The editor of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies (JNES), Wadad Kadi, wrote to me today expressing concern with the circumstances of Alexander Joffe’s 2005 JNES review of Facts on the Ground. I’m gratified that Dr. Kadi understands both the issue of Joffe’s potential conflict and is concerned by the misuse of the Joffe review in the campaign against Abu El Haj’s tenure process:
As Editor of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies (JNES), I am deeply disturbed to learn that Alexander Joffe’s review of Nadia Abu El Haj’s book “Facts on the Ground”…could have been written when he was in a position that creates a conflict of interest, and that his review could have had an effect on her academic appointment. At that time, the editor of JNES was my predecessor…who, I am certain, had no idea about the conflict of interest you point out in your message. I know for a fact that a number of times scholars to whom he offered a book for review wrote back declining because of a real conflict of interest or what they thought might be perceived as a conflict of interest (being a personal friend, having had a course from a person, having been on a particular dig, having seen a draft of a chapter, etc.); Joffe made no such comment, as scholars of unimpeachable integrity normally do.
You are right: it is difficult for editors to be aware of all conflicts of interest, but they should be vigilant in order to avoid such unfortunate situations in the future.
Thanking you for attracting our attention to this very regrettable situation, I remain.
Shulamit Reinharz is one of the latest academics to exploit Joffe’s review for the purpose that Kadi decries as I posted here yesterday. This should put anyone on notice who does the same that the Journal itself has distanced itself from Joffe and this abuse of his review.
Further, at least one author has come forward to decry copyright violations at the Deny Nadia Abu El Haj Tenure website. Ralph Harrington, whose own review of Facts on the Ground was appropriated in its entirely without permission at the site, wrote to me referring to this statement at his own website:
It has come to my notice that my Israeli ‘bulldozer archaeology’ essay is featured on the website of the ‘Deny Abu El Haj Tenure Committee’. I would like to make it clear that I have not given permission for my essay to be included on this site, and that its presence there represents no endorsement whatsoever on my part of that site or of the campaign of which it is part.
It is very noticeable that those behind the ‘Deny Abu El Haj Tenure Committee’ have been careful to conceal their own identities, while taking Nadia Abu El Haj’s own name and registering it as the domain for a website dedicated to attacking and denigrating her. This strikes me as questionable behaviour, coming from people who claim to be standing up for academic integrity.
I couldn’t have said it any better myself. And this is from someone who wrote a review that was critical of the book and who has no vested interest in whether or not she receives tenure. By the way, his review is still at the anti Abu El Haj site despite his public notice that he disapproves of its display there. This is now a blatant copyright violation among other sins of this site.
Apparently, one academic is pleased her work is being used in the partisan political campaign to oust Abu El Haj. And she’s none to happy with yesterday’s critique of the Barnard alumni ‘hit-man’ website. If she reads this, she may want to retract the following portion of her comment:
Judging by how I was treated, I can only assume the website owners were as careful with others as they were with my article.
Wrong, Professor. Dead wrong.