The New York Times Weighs In

May 23, 2005

In News


A feud between Alan M. Dershowitz of Harvard Law School and Norman G. Finkelstein of DePaul University has prompted a change in publishers.

At issue is a coming book by Mr. Finkelstein, “Beyond Chutzpah,” which charges Mr. Dershowitz with distorting facts in his 2003 book “The Case for Israel.” Mr. Dershowitz’s book sought to counter many modern criticisms of Israel; much of “Beyond Chutzpah” consists of point-by-point responses. Mr. Finkelstein also accuses Mr. Dershowitz of copying extensively from others authors’ quotations of primary sources without checking those sources himself.

Mr. Dershowitz objects fiercely. “He just makes up quotes, he makes up facts,” he said of Mr. Finkelstein.

In an essay on, Mr. Dershowitz called Mr. Finkelstein a “transient academic” bent on discrediting any book supporting Israel. Publishers Weekly reported on Tuesday that Mr. Dershowitz sent letters to New Press, which was to publish “Beyond Chutzpah.”

New Press postponed the book to the fall of 2005, from the spring. “Because we’d had these very aggressive letters from Dershowitz, we were aware that it was going to be a controversial book,” said Colin Robinson, publisher of New Press. “We wanted to make sure that we had all of our arguments marshaled.”

Rather than wait for publication, Mr. Finkelstein took “Beyond Chutzpah” to the University of California Press, which will publish it in August. “Because of the timeliness of the book, I didn’t want to lose an extra few months,” he said.

As for Mr. Dershowitz’s essay, Mr. Finkelstein reprinted it on his own Web site with the headline “Dershowitz in panic mode.” ALEX MINDLIN