Assistant Professor Nadia El-Haj at Barnard College-sister institution at
Columbia University's Mornignside Heights campus- is up for tenure.
Professor Nadia El-Haj is a purveyor of denial of Jewish heritage and
provenance to the Land of Israel. She is the author of the controversial
book:Facts on the Ground; Archaeological Practice and Territorial
Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society. It is a specious work as it aims to
pepetuate under the guise of 'scholarship" the noxious lies perpetrated by
Palestinain apologists, such as herself and others at my alma mater like
Professors, Rashid Khalidi, Joseph Massad and others in the Middle East Arts
Language and Culture (MEALAC) and Middle East Institute at Columbia.
This is crunch time for Barnard College President Judith Shapiro who feigned
being 'shocked, shocked' by the revelations of the controversial David
project film, Columbia Unbecoming in the winter andspring of 2005-2006.
Frankly, I was shocked by Professor Abu El-Naj's comments at an infamous
School of International public affairs conference on Israel and South
African Apartheid Experience back in September 2002. I had risen during a
Q+A period and made note of the expulsion of nearly 900,000 Jews expelled
from Arab lands. Professor El-Naj's pooh poohed the allegations and
suggested that any claims for compensation were baseless.
So, I ask you, should Professor Abu-El Naj gets tenure at Barnard College?
Will Barnard President Judith Shapiro have the courage of her academic
convictions? As alumna Paula Stern says in this letter, please circulate
this posting and her letter widely. This will help to stir up a real
controversy to add to the pot already boiling over at Columbia with the
Minuteman protests and the Walid Shoebat and Friends ‘event' betrayal of
Read Barnard alumna Paula Stern's letter below and be inflammed that this is
happening at one of the august academic institutions in the United States
and the world. But then it's Columbia university, isn't it?
Dear fellow Barnard grad,
A young professor at Barnard has written a book denying that the ancient
Jewish or Israelite kingdoms existed. "What was considered to have been
ancient Jewish national existence and sovereignty in their homeland is a
tale best understood as the modern nation's origin myth¦ transported into
the realm of history." The Hasmonean and Davidic dynasties are a mere
"belief, an ideological assertion, a pure political fabrication."
This absurd and unsupported assertion is the theme of Facts on the Ground;
Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society
by Nadia Abu El Haj, Assistant Professor of Anthroplogy at Barnard College
[sister institution at Columbia University].
Although it my seen incredible that a book could commit a more flagrant
violation of scholarly standards than to dismiss the vast body of
archaeological and documentary evidence for the existence of the ancient
Jewish and Israelite kingdoms, Abu El Haj manages to do so when she excuses
the deliberate destruction of archaeological sites when it is done by
Palestinians for political purposes. In Abu El Haj's view, deliberately
destroying ancient buildings is not to be condemned, it is to be "analyzed
as a form of resistance to the Israeli state."
The deliberate destruction of archaeological artifacts, "Needs to be
understood in relation to a colonial-national history in which modern
political rights have been substantiated in and expanded through the
material signs of historic presence. In destroying the tomb, Palestinian
demonstrators eradicated one fact on the ground."
Abu El Haj is not an anthropologist in the tradition of Ruth Benedict and
Margaret Mead, scholars who went into the field, learned the language, and
interacted with the people they wrote about. Nadia Abu El Haj does none of
this. She has written an anthropology of the role of archaeological
knowledge in Israeli society based almost exclusively on published sources
in English. Her anthropology of Israeli archaeology is based on a single,
one-day visit to a single dig, visits to a handful of archaeological museums
in Jerusalem, and a standard tourist walking tour of the Old City - Abu El
Haj cites the walking tour guide repeatedly. Israelis speak Hebrew; Abu El
Haj does not. There is almost no citation of Hebrew sources, no field work,
no fluency in the language of the culture being studied - this is
Abu El Haj scorn for evidence-based scholarship is explicit. In her own
words, she writes within a scholarly tradition that "Reject(s) a positivist
commitment to scientific methods." Rather, her work is "rooted in post
structuralism, philosophical critiques of foundationalism, Marxism and
critical theory and developed in response to specific postcolonial political
This, apparently, entitles her to write about Israeli archaeology with no
respect for the inconvenient evidence presented by mountains of ostraca,
numerous inscribed stele, and all those large, well-documented tells. And to
write an anthropology of a society, Israel , which she has visited only
briefly and whose language she does not speak.
In addition to rejecting scientific methods and rooting herself in
post-colonial scholarship, Abu El Haj is rooted in a political tradition
that rejects the right of the Jewish people to have a state. She
conceptualizes Israel as an illegitimate "colonial settler" enterprise. She
has urged Columbia to "divest from all companies" that sell even defensive
military supplies to Israel . In 2002 she condemned Israel in advance for an
"ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians during the Iraq war, an event that was
never planned and never occurred.
Below, you will find excerpts from and links to scholarly reviews of this
book. Her work has been well received by scholars who share Abu El Haj's
rejection of scientific methods, commitment to postcolonial politics, and
hatred of Israel .
She is currently under consideration for tenure
If you share my concern about the implications of hiring a young scholars
who writes with so little respect for the use of evidence, I urge you to
contact President Shapiro Barnard (212) 854-2021 and share your opinion of
what the scholarly standards for tenure at Barnard should be.
Feel free to pass this letter on.
Paula (Rubenstein) Stern, Barnard, Class of 1982Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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