Sunday, November 04, 2007

Tenure for a bigot

Nadia Abu El-Haj, who teaches anthropology at Barnard College, has received tenure from that institution.

Much has already been written about her book criticizing any archaeology that indicates a presence of an Jewish kingdom in what is now Israel, even though she has no archaeology experience herself. Her pre-conceived notion that there were never ancient Jews in the Middle East is so overpowering that she essentially dismisses the entire field of archaeology as being hopelessly biased against her version of the truth.

This was the only book she ever wrote, and it seems on its own to be pretty powerful evidence that her scholarship is suspect, to say the least. But what most people haven't caught on to is that more recently she has been doing to the field of genetics what she had previously done to archaeology - to reach the identical conclusion. In an article in American Ethnologist she says modern genetics has disproved the idea that the Jewish maternal line originated in ancient Israel (what she calls "Palestine" even when she is talking about a kingdom that predates that term.)

It is an amazing coincidence that she has looked at two disparate fields, neither of which she is an expert in, and reached the identical conclusion - the Jews have no historic right to live in Israel. The fact that she is of Palestinian Arab origin surely has nothing to do with this eerie juxtaposition of separate proofs by assertion.

Perhaps if her only "scholarship" was concentrated in deconstructing archaeology, a case could be made that she is just doing the same as what other postmodernists do. But the fact that she uses her anthropology background as a blunt instrument to pretend to be a scholar in two separate, specialized fields of which she has no real knowledge shows not only that El-Haj is no scholar, but that she has a purely Jew-hating agenda. It is almost beyond belief that such a person, who can only be described as a bigot, can reach such a level at any university, let alone one as formerly prestigious as this one.

Columbia University (of which Barnard is part) certainly has seen its reputation collapse in the past year.