Saturday, March 29, 2014

Handle Heist

This past week, Dr. Robert Deustch reported that the handle shown below was stolen from his Archaeological Center gallery in the Old City of Jaffa:

It bears an excellent impression from the personal seal of someone named Nahum 'Abdi (LNHM_OBDY; Sass/Avigad's #684; Vaughn's #21a). The name roughly translates to "Comfort/Consolation Servants" or "Comfort/Consolation, My Servant".

G.M. Grena

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finkelstein's Downhill Slide

So far 2014's been a great year for me ... health (the 50-something kind), wealth (i.e. steady employment), fame (courtesy of Dr. Gabriel Barkay), & achieving my stair-climbing goal for the entire year after the 1st race earlier this month!

Last year my national ranking began at 75 (out of 14,575 men in America), & ended at 60 (of 15,078). So my main goal for this year was to do well enough to get under 50 ... admittedly arbitrary, but it sounds cool: "Top Fifty." After coming in 28th place at our national championship race at the Strat in Vegas, I became #38 (of 13,328; #8 of 1,363 for my age division)! Even though I regularly listened Casey Kasem's "American Top Forty" radio show during the '70s, until now I didn't realize how cool it would be to apply that to my stair-race ranking!

Unlike this athletic hobby of mine, where the emphasis is on going up, Dr. Israel Finkelstein's ethical reputation continues an embarrassing descent.

After being awarded the Delalande-Guerineau Prize this month for a book he published last year, he reportedly said, "A scholar is always happy to know that his/her work is acknowledged and appreciated."

I agree. But according to the standard by which Dr. Finkelstein lives, occasionally a scholar needs to steal ideas from someone else's work. And if the thief happens to be a friend, this might also necessitate lying on behalf of the friend. Don't believe me?

And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?" (Job 24:25).

I ended my previous entry here with a 2005 quotation from Dr. Barkay. In the same interview Dr. Finkelstein claimed, "There are rules of the game in the university, and those who do not play by them and above all, do not publish cannot get ahead and find themselves outside."

Notice his not-so-subtle assertion that academic publication is "above all". Did you catch that? In his mind, it's even above the university's rules!!! Just publish anything (as long as you treat God's Word as a myth, of course), even if it's not true, or not the product of your own mind & your own work. Above all the rules, just publish it. If you somehow managed to slip into Tel Aviv University (after obtaining a PhD therefrom, & are more knowledgeable about Jerusalem's archeology than anyone else in the world) & don't publish, you'll find yourself looking for employment outside of TAU. Take that, you maximalist you!

And as astonishing as this may seem on its own accord, he made this remark a mere year after I had published my LMLK book, & more importantly just 6 months after his colleague, Oded Lipschits, excitedly acknowledged receiving a copy of it, assuring me its content would help him & his assistant with their excavation work at Ramat Rahel & additional research in Rome!

Finkelstein's descent continued on p. 24 of Antiguo Oriente 10 (2012), where he (along with Nadav Na'aman) claimed that when an author (yours truly in this instance) relinquishes a copyright, "anyone can cite or copy whatever he/she likes." Again, as I & Prof. Emeritus Ussishkin have emphasized elsewhere, to equivocate the citing/copying of someone else's content with claiming it's your own content (e.g., "we challenged a 30-year scholarly consensus"), is not just a philosophically egregious mistake for any PhD university professor to make; it's a premeditated lie.

Last month in his Tel Aviv (journal) editorial role, he authorized the publication of another embarrassing article about southern-Levant camel domestication beginning in the 9th century BC instead of the 12th. As Todd Bolen succinctly mocked the pulp-fiction propaganda, "We didn’t find any camels being used at two copper-mining sites in the early 10th century; therefore, no camels were domesticated anywhere in the ANE before that time."

Then the Winter 2014 issue of Artifax contained a scathing rebuttal/review from Clyde Billington, of Finkelstein's (along with Alexander Fantalkin) 2013 article on Khirbet Qeiyafa:

"[His theory] has so many problems ... fatally flawed ... It makes no sense ... It certainly does not fit ... The Elah Fortress, if built by David, is a major problem for Finkelstein ... Finkelstein accepts a 10th century date for the Elah Fortress which makes it older than his six-chambered gates at Megiddo which he has dated--in error--to the 9th century ... fails to explain ... Finkelstein fails ... Finkelstein's disparagement of Garfinkel's views was inappropriate and unprofessional."

How can Dr. Finkelstein continue to get away with all this?

Earlier this week, I received the 2014 issue of TAU Review. Lo & behold, the title for one of its articles on the cover is "Ethics Today"! I thought for sure that this would contain something about the Lipschits Scandal ... especially Finkelstein's role, or even TAU's president, Prof. Joseph Klafter, or rector, Prof. Aron Shai.

Page 1 contains a happy-faced Klafter posing with engineering students, & he lauds all of TAU's students for "pioneering new historical insight". Apparently he's never read anything critical of TA (journal)!

Or maybe he has some sort of attention deficit disorder that acts up when he's not receiving huge sums of money from wealthy donors. A note on p. 3 about "Meditation in the Classroom" encourages students to engage in mental exercise such as the "repetition of a mantra". Please permit me to suggest a couple:

  • "Thou shalt not steal."
  • "Thou shalt not bear false witness."

Or for those who despise the rules set by their Maker, here's TAU's own version from their Code of Honor:

  • "TAU will not under any circumstance tolerate plagiarism."
  • "TAU will not under any circumstance tolerate aiding and abetting dishonesty."

The full title of the article on p. 21 is, "The Good, the Bad and the Ethical" by Tiffany Roberts. It's about a grad student named Hagar Weinberger, "who wants doctors to make better moral judgments". Please permit me to suggest a couple of test subjects:

  • DOCTOR Oded Lipschits
  • DOCTOR Israel Finkelstein

According to the article, "Hagar is deeply involved in the activities at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics." The center's director, Prof. Shai Lavi says its mission "is to promote new ways of thinking and to encourage dialogue between researchers and professionals from diverse backgrounds."

Well, if either of them would like to start a dialogue with me about how Dr. Lipschits stole my intellectual property, & how Dr. Finkelstein deliberately aided & abetted his dishonesty, & how President Klafter & Rector Shai ignored Ussishkin's formal inquiry, they're welcome to call or even visit me. I painted the world's largest Paleo-Hebrew inscription on my roof to make it easy for anyone to find!

The last thing you'd expect to find on the very next page (p. 22) following an article about ethics research at TAU is a smiling photo of Finkelstein ... but by golly, there he is!

In "Ancient Israel under the Microscope" by Lisa Kremer, Finkelstein says that by setting up a field lab, he no longer has to "wait days or weeks for answers. Within a few hours, sometimes minutes, I have information that can change the direction of the dig."

I wonder if TAU will ever consider setting up a lab on its own campus so that when one of its faculty members violates its Code of Honor, the victim won't have to wait months or years before seeing moral judgments change the direction of its faculty for the better: upward, not downward.

G.M. Grena