I don't like being the harbinger of bad news, but the enlightened public took another
beating the other day, and I think that you all should know about it. Our beloved Theodore
(Teddy) Katz, - who has been described as "a long-time peace activist, coming from his
kibbutz to demonstrations in short trousers, summer and winter", suffered a serious setback
in the Tel Aviv District Court. Judge Drora Pilpel refused his request to renege on the
settlement agreement he signed with the Alexandroni brigade veterans, in the matter of a
1.1 million shekel libel suit that they had initiated against him. The suit was presented
following statements made in Teddy Katz' master's thesis(which made big news in January
2000), where he accused the soldiers of the brigade of butchering 200 people, residents of
the Arab village Tantura after its conquest in May 1948. Haifa University, a
co-respondent in the suit, awarded him a mark of 97% for the study. Our hero Teddy
Katz is a student of self-proclaimed "new historian" Dr. Ilan Pappe.
Before I tell you more details of the case, I would like to express the importance of the new historians to the Church of Rabin and Peace:
"NEW HISTORIANS" ARE ANTI-HISTORIANS
That Tantura tale, that the IDF had slain more than 200 unarmed and surrendered residents on May 22-23, was Teddy Katz' master's thesis. No such massacre had been recorded there nor was any like it anywhere else in Israel. "Maariv" published a summary of the thesis, to the astonishment of veterans of the Israeli Alexandroni Brigade, that had captured the village.
The thesis quoted two Arab survivors attesting to the massacre. However, neither the interview notes nor Katz' recording contained such statements. It took only two days of cross-examination in libel court for Katz to sign a statement, "After checking and re-checking the evidence, it is clear to me now, beyond any doubt, that there is no basis whatsoever to the allegation that the Alexandroni Brigade, or any other fighting unit of the Jewish forces, committed the killing of people in Tantura after the village surrendered." Within a day, Katz retracted his statement and sought to continue the trial, but the judges refused. The University found that Katz had falsified "gravely and severely" testimony at 14 different places in his thesis.
His thesis advisor, Dr. Ilan Pappe, insists that Katz' conclusions were correct, even if his alleged facts were not. Historical research need not be based on facts -- Katz understood the overall picture, "leaving behind, perhaps forever, certainties about exact chronology and names and precise numbers." The Left and the Arabs now cite this non-existent massacre, which Pappe claims was typical in 1948.
Post-Zionist historians now accept admitted falsehoods as historical evidence. Not only in political discussion but even in scholarship, truth has become relative. Everyone has his own 'narrative.' The line between subjective and objective, between fiction and fact, has been blurred, if not obliterated. All academic standards are bent to demonstrate the "unjust and immoral" nature of Zionism and the State of Israel. Post-Zionist historians, who proudly style themselves slayers of the propagandistic 'myths' of Israel's creation and witnesses of truth, are actually the opposite: falsifiers of facts, for which they substitute a new mythology.
Sunday, 26/11/00 Time: 20:00 Where: TEL AVIV
WHAT: BACK TO 1948 : MEMORY, RESEARCH & CURRENT AFFAIRS
A fundraising incl. discussion and film to assist peace activist Teddy Katz in his juridical struggle against a libel case following his historical research on Palestinian villages in the South Mount Carmel region during 1948 ("The Tantura Case").
Participants: Shulamit Aloni, Salem Jubran, Dov Yirmiya, Me'ir Pa'il, Ilan Pappe, As'ad Ranem, Maya Rosenfeld
M.C. : Uri Avneri
Film : "1948" by Muhamad Bakri
Where: Tzavta, 30 Ibn Gvirol St., Tel Aviv
Entrance Fee: 20 NIS
"This was a village, very close to the Mediterranean Sea and to train tracks [between Caesarea and Haifa], that was used for delivering supplies. This was the reason why it was decided to capture it... The elders of the village were willing to negotiate, as proposed by the nearby Jewish town of Zikhron Yaakov, and in such a case Tantura would have become just like the present-day [Arab] town of Faradis [right nearby]. But the younger people there refused to negotiate, and continued fighting. Their snipers shot at us from rooftops and from within buildings, and we had a difficult house-to-house fight. Many were killed in the battle - I would say about 70 Arabs and 14 of our soldiers. Their wounded were cared for in Jewish hospitals..." He emphasized that his battalion, #33 of the Alexandroni Brigade [Arik Sharon fought in Battalion #32], placed great importance in the Israeli military custom of "purity of weapons," i.e., military ethics.
Pridan said that he and his fellow soldiers are attempting to have the MA degree Katz received for his work revoked - "but this is hard, because Ilan Pappe is his mentor and he is fighting for him." Dr. Ilan Pappe is a senior lecturer of Political Science at Haifa University and a senior director at the left-wing Givat Haviva Research Institute for Peace. He is a self-proclaimed "new historian" and "post-Zionist" who told the Associated Press, "Jews came and took, by means of uprooting and expulsion, a land that was Arab" and who believes there is no need for a Jewish state: "Jews are nothing more than a religion. To have a 'Jewish state' is like having 'a Catholic state' in France."And indeed, Haifa University suspended Teddy's MA Thesis as can be seen from the following letter which was posted to the Academia, Israel Forum For Higher Education list:
To members of the Academia,We at the Church of Rabin And Peace bear to disagree with the Rector. Katz's thesis deserves a place of honor on the shelves of the University of Haifa Library, next to Mein Kampf and The Protocols of The Elders of Zion.
Herewith is the decision of the Graduate School Council regarding Teddy Katz's thesis as well as a further decision by the Rector.
Decision of the Graduate School Council of 18.11.2001 as to Teddy Katz's thesis
The material (including the remarks of the student, the adviser, and the department chair) that was submitted to the Graduate School Council, leads to the conclusion that there are substantive defects in the work. The Graduate School Council has decided therefore that the thesis cannot be accepted in its current form.
It was decided, therefore, to suspend approval of the thesis and the grade it received for six months.
During this period, the student will be entitled to submit a revised version of the thesis, taking into consideration the material that was submitted to the Council and all other material found appropriate.
If the work is not revised, recognition of the thesis will be withdrawn permanently.
The Graduate School Council will serve as the M.A. Committee for the purposes of refereeing the corrected version.
In light of the Council's decision, the Rector has instructed the removal of the work from the shelves of the University of Haifa Library and requested that other university libraries follow suit.
Secretary to the Rector
From: email@example.comWe at the Church of Rabin And Peace would like to commend the pious Dr. Pappe for not letting the facts confuse him!
Sent: Monday, November 19, 2001 11:26 PM
Subject: ALEF: a letter to the American historical society
To the president of the American Historical Society
To the president of the British Middle Eastern Society
To the president of the American Middle Eastern Association
I appeal to you as a member and as a colleague to voice your opinion and protest against a shameful decision taken by Haifa University on November 18, 2001. On that date, the university decided to disqualify an MA thesis that has originally passed cum laude in the department of Middle Eastern History. I attach my article in the Journal of Palestine Studies that describes the chronicles of this sad affair, and I beseech you to read it so that you can be updated with the events surrounding this thesis.
The article describes how the student revealed in his thesis the occurrence of a terrible massacre a Jewish military unit committed in the Palestinian village of Tantura on the night between the 22ed(sic) and the 23rd of May. This was probably one of the worst massacres in the war. The veterans of this unit have exerted pressure on the university to disqualify the thesis and succeeded in doing so, by that trampling the very elementary freedoms of academic research and expression. This may not come to you as a surprise given the present atmosphere in Israel, a consensual nationalist and jingoist mood, and yet the Israeli academia depends very much on the opinion of your members and association (if not for anything else, you are badly needed for the completion of promotion and tenure procedures). You can not possibly allow them to evade the basic rules of decency and honesty even when the issue at hand is the Palestinian catastrophe, the history of which has bearings on the present conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Your intervention and assistance would be most welcome and appreciated at these dark hours when Israeli academics can not find in themselves the courage to remain loyal to the basics rules of academic research and freedom.
Dr. Ilan Pappe
Department of Political Science
"We are unable, as far as existing data show, to establish definitely who were, at least in Tantura, those who killed the inhabitants of the village that capitulated, according to the evidence we have. Were they soldiers of "Alexandroni", soldiers of "Chim" or people from Zichron Ya'akov. We don't know."(CRAP comment: Sounds like someone is trying to avoid a law suit!)
"We have no way of establishing in a decisive and final manner, how many, precisely, of Tantura inhabitants were killed during and after the occupation of the village, because about this matter we heard a large number of versions: from 40 or 50 up to 230."(CRAP comment: So why did Teddy write in chapter 4 of the first version of his thesis that the Alexandroni Brigade soldiers killed more than two hundred Tantura residents after the village's surrender?)
In March 1998 Mr. Teddy Katz submitted an M.A. thesis to the department of History of the Middle East at the University of Haifa. The subject of the thesis was: "The exodus of Arabs from villages at the foot of the southern Carmel in 1948".(CRAP comment: This just proves that one get an M.A. even if he writes B.S.!)
Upon the receipt of the thesis at the library, some of its findings - specifically, that members of the Alexandroni brigade allegedly committed a massacre of Arabs in the village of Tantura -- caused considerable controversy in the media. Representatives of the Alexandroni brigade filed a libel suit against Mr. Teddy Katz, charging systematic and tendentious distortion of facts in his transcripts concerning the occupation of Tantura by the brigade's soldiers. These accusations were based on a study of transcripts of the recordings made by Katz during the course of interviews he held with eye- witnesses, and following the comparison of the transcripts with the actual citations in his thesis.
A compromise was reached in court, according to which Teddy Katz retracted his accusations and rendered an apology. After the agreement was reached, Teddy Katz changed his mind and asked that the agreement be revoked. The court, however, refused and declared the agreement legally binding.
At the conclusion of the legal procedure the university decided upon the following steps:
1. Establishing a committee to examine whether the contents of the recordings and the transcripts were faithfully rendered in the text of Mr. Teddy Katz's thesis paper.
2. Establishing a committee to examine the university procedures for supervising theses and Ph.D. dissertations.
3. Conducting academic discussions within the School of History on the issue of the methodology of oral history.In conducting these three measures, the university signaled its determination to investigate this case comprehensively.
The committee that examined the reliability of the contents of testimonies as presented in the thesis submitted a report to the Rector. On the whole, the committee pointed out that the thesis "failed at the stage of presenting the raw material for the reader's judgement, both in terms of its organization according to strict criteria of classification and criticism , and in terms of the apparent instances of disregard for the interviewees' testimony." The committee also harshly criticized the scientific merit of the thesis.
The committee's report was conveyed to Mr. Teddy Katz, the thesis supervisor, and several of the office holders in the Department of the History of the Middle East. Each recipient of the report was given the chance to respond. In addition, the entire report was brought to the attention of the University faculty as well as the public at large.
The Rector instructed the Council for Advanced Studies at the University of Haifa to discuss the committee's report, including the various responses, as well as to formulate appropriate conclusions. After an exhaustive discussion, the council determined that, due to the fundamental faults permeating the thesis, the council could not accept it in its current version. Therefore, the council suspended approval of the thesis and the grade awarded it. The council further decided that the student could submit a revised version, taking into account the material submitted to the council and any other pertinent material.
Mr. Teddy Katz revised his thesis, which was duly sent to five senior academic referees. The summary of the referees' comments revealed the following:
Two referees rejected the amended thesis out of hand, and three referees accepted the paper with highly critical and harsh reservations. Some of the referees commended the information-gathering process invested in the paper and its extent, but all five referees noted essential failures in the research process, its methodology and the standard of data analysis. Specifically, the referees indicated major research failures, such as: the very serious failure in verifying the reliability of the testimonies; lack of distinction between different types of testimony, such as visual and oral testimonies; the lack of any criteria for assessment of the testimonies' validity, reliability and importance; the lack of criteria for accepting some of the testimonies while rejecting others, and furthermore for choosing certain versions over contradictory ones; the lack of a systematic method for analyzing the testimonies and the absence of in-depth analysis - methods that are a sine qua non for qualitative research.
There is no doubt that the problems in the research identified by the referees cast grave doubts concerning the validity of the conclusions in the amended thesis. These fundamental problems were at the basis of the committee's criticism of the thesis's original version and led to the council's original decision to suspend the thesis and require its revision. Moreover, some of the referees cite the writer's obvious lack of the most basic methodology tools used in historical research. This lacuna may reflect a failure in the process of supervision and approval of the thesis.
The harsh criticism evident in all the referees' reactions precluded the approval of Mr. Katz's amended thesis and the award of a research-track Master's degree by the council. In accordance with another council decision, Mr. Teddy Katz will receive a non-research track M.A. degree, based on his scholastic achievements during the course of his graduate studies.
Despite immense pressures from various sources, the University of Haifa took the utmost care to conduct the process in accordance with strict academic criteria.
Prof. Aaron Ben-Ze'ev
Copyright 2001-2003 by The Church of Rabin And Peace.
All rights reserved.