By all accounts, Yehuda Reinharz seems to be a pretty decent university president (Brandeis) and a distinguished scholar in his field. However, Shulamit Reinharz, his spouse and a scholar of women’s studies is a horse of a different color. Reinhharz is a dyed in the wool neocon of the Lynn Cheney-Diane Ravitch type. When Pres. Reinharz cravenly invited the Jewish Islamophobe, Daniel Pipes to join him in his office after his Brandeis speaking engagement one could only imagine Shulamit whispering in his ear that he should make nice to the Campus Watch founder after he boasted that he would cost Brandeis a $5-million gift if it allowed Norman Finkelstein to speak on campus.
Now, Ms. Dr. Reinharz has taken the rather extraordinary step of, Dershowitz-like, intervening in the tenure process of a Barnard College anthropologist, Nadia Abu El Haj. Of course, Reinharz, in a Jewish Advocate article, doesn’t explicitly say she opposes tenure. But she does everything but confirm her position. And she does so in a strange awkward way that hints at her opposition to Abu El Haj on racist grounds:
I did not go to my 40th Barnard College reunion last month, although friends and the college development office urged me to attend. I chose not to go because I could not get an answer to a question I was asking concerning the tenure case of assistant anthropology professor Nadia Abu El-Haj.
According to information on the Web, El-Haj is a Palestinian. I was unsuccessful in my efforts to find exactly where she was born, a topic that interested me because I am not sure if she identifies as a Palestinian as a consequence of being born in what some people now call Palestine or because she identifies with Palestinians and was born elsewhere. I couldn’t find the facts.
Reinharz doesn’t explain why where Abu El Haj was born should have any bearing on the credibility of her scholarly research. And by the way, considering she’s a hot shot academic I’d say her research methods are sorely lacking. I don’t even have a PhD and I discovered that Abu El Haj was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. So what difference does it make?
In her hit job on Abu El Haj, Reinharz quotes the usual suspects including the alleged “Hugh Fitzgerald” (no one I know has been able to confirm there is a real person by that name who wrote articles under that name) of the undoubtedly unbiased Jihad Watch site. Fitzgerald’s trash against Abu El Haj (not a single quote from her work in his piece) appeared jointly at Campus Watch and Frontpagemagazine. She also quotes the omnipresent Alexander Joffe, academic manque, without acknowledging that he currently works for the David Project, a Boston group dedicated to ferreting out alleged anti-Semitic bias in academia.
I found this passage laughable:
Does El-Haj have the credentials to do a study that would make such an attack credible? Apparently not, according to Fitzgerald and many others.
Fitzgerald himself has no known scholarly credentials and none have ever been cited in any articles he has published. Joffe is no longer an archaeologist and even when he published his attack on Abu El Haj he was director of Campus Watch. Talk about doubtful scholarly credentials!
Reinharz knows how unseemly it would be to state straight out she opposes Abu El Haj’s tenure but she does everything but here:
As a Barnard alumna, I am understandably interested in the way my alma mater builds its faculty and teaches current students. Thus, I inquired repeatedly if El-Haj had received tenure. At first, I was told I should not meddle. I was not meddling, just asking a question, but my ivory tower was turning into an ivory fortress. Finally, I learned that a decision will be made in the fall. I’ll be watching.
All I can is she has a lot of nerve. If the wife of the president of Brandeis University wants to stick her snout into Barnard’s tenure process I hope she’s prepared for Barnard faculty sticking their snouts into Brandeis’ tenure process. I hope she’s prepared for her graduate student’s to be raked over the coals if they ever apply for a job at Columbia or Barnard. Personally, I’m not advocating that this happen. But Lord, do unto others and they damn well might do unto you too.
How did I run into this column? It’s linked at the equally sleazy Barnard alumni anti-Abu El Haj website. Figures.