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Right-Wing Academic Values

by JEFFREY KLEIN

Plagiarism encompasses the following:

1. Presenting as one’s own the words, the work, or the opinions of someone else without proper acknowledgment.

2. Borrowing the sequence of ideas, the arrangement of material, or the pattern of thought of someone else without proper acknowledgment.

Plagiarism is the equivalent of intellectual robbery and cannot be tolerated in an academic setting.

From the George Mason University Honor Code

David Horowitz is on a mission. The former leftist author — now a well-paid Right-Wing Guru — has been campaigning coast-to-coast against abuses of academic standards, partisan scholarship and liberal indoctrination on university campuses. His latest books are The Professors, which “documents the debasement of the academic curriculum by tenured leftists,” and Indoctrination U: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom.

The David Horowitz Freedom Center (“It is a battle-tank, not just a think-tank.”), had a budget of almost $5million in 2005 to wage this struggle, of which a bit more than $350,000 went to compensate its Dear Leader. But for all his agitation about academic standards, the internet house organ published by the DHFC, seems to regard plagiarism in the service of Israeli propaganda as just fine.

FrontPageMagazine.com features regular denunciations of academic sinners by Horowitz, appearing side-by-side with frothing rants against various other enemies, domestic and foreign. Alan Dershowitz and Daniel Pipes publish there, along with Christopher Hitchens and a lesser constellation of would-be freedom fighters, terrorism experts and expatriate authors based in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Predictably, FPM promotes an obsessive Kulturkampf against “Islamofascism” combined with unwavering support for Israel.

Given these political and cultural leanings it wasn’t surprising to see an article “The Dark Fate of Christians Under Palestinian Rule” posted at FPM on December 25, 2006. Christmastime, you see, promotes a certain anxiety among Israel’s defenders. While others are wrapping gifts and turning their thoughts to the little West Bank town of Bethlehem, Zionists must work overtime to blur an ugly reality — that the birthplace of Jesus is facing slow strangulation behind a 25-foot high Israeli occupation Wall. Bethlehem has lost much of its commercially important tourism industry, while economic hardship has swelled the emigration of its beleaguered Christian Arab population.

Enter authors Michael I. Krauss, Professor at George Mason University School of Law and J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. (Both are also identified as “adjunct fellows” with the neo-con Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.) After an introductory attack on the supposed terrorist connections of Bethlehem’s Catholic mayor, the Professors article goes on to recite a litany of talking points praising the efforts of the Israeli occupiers to ensure a Merry Christmas for all. If there is suffering in Bethlehem, the authors tell us, it is the fault of persecution from anti-Christian Palestinian Muslim extremists. A familiar and comforting fairy tale for Israel’s Christian Fundamentalist supporters.

But rendering these arguments in their own words must have proved overly taxing for the authors during the busy Holiday Season. Not to worry. The Israel Project — an Israeli PR machine posing as a non-profit organization — had issued a press release, “Israeli Government Works to Make Christmas Merry for Tens of Thousands of Pilgrims and Citizens,” just a few days earlier, which our good professors simply re-published as their own work.

It would be tedious to illustrate all the copied passages, but a typical example should suffice:

From Krause and Pham in FPM:

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism is operating complimentary shuttles running every half hour from Mar Elias Monastery in southern Jerusalem to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. To help ease pilgrims’ travels, Israeli security has arranged to check passports before travelers disembark from the shuttles. The measures were implemented this year to prevent traffic jams at the Rachel border crossing between Jerusalem and Bethlehem as 15,000 to 18,000 pilgrims are expected to travel between the two cities this Christmas.

From the Israel Project press release:

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism will operate complimentary shuttles running every half hour from Mar Elias Monastery in southern Jerusalem to Bethlehem on Dec. 24 and Christmas Day. To help ease pilgrims’ travels, Israeli security has arranged to check the travelers’ passports even before they disembark from the shuttles. The measures were implemented this year to prevent traffic jams at the Rachel border crossing between Jerusalem and Bethlehem as an estimated 15,000 to 18,000 pilgrims are expected to travel between the two cities on Christmas Day.

The rest of the FPM article proceeds in the same manner, relentlessly lifting paragraph after paragraph from the Israel Project text, without quotes and without any acknowledgement or attribution.

A clearer and more brazen case of plagiarism could hardly be imagined. Can anyone doubt that a student found to have cribbed a paper in like manner would face serious disciplinary action?

So I emailed nearly identical letters to the academic institutions where the authors worked, to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies where they were affiliated, and to FPM (with a copy to Dear Leader Horowitz) informing them about the plagiarism. Providing full parallel documentation of the copied passages, I asked, politely, what they were prepared to do regarding the obvious scholarly wrongdoing.

The initial response was heartening. All parties professed to take the issue of plagiarism very seriously, each of them promising a swift and thorough investigation of the matter. The editors of FPM were at first the most forthcoming.

we are extremely grateful to you for giving us a heads up on this matter, which we take extremely seriously. There does in fact appear to be a problem. We have taken the article off of our site immediately and will be looking very seriously into this matter with the authors of the article. Thank you kindly for bringing this to our attention.

The offending article did indeed vanish, with the original FPM link, now yielding a cryptic message: “Please check back soon for updated data.”

After some further prodding, however, GMU and FDD indicated that they found no wrong-doing:

Per my email to you of February 15th instant, be advised that a serious inquiry was conducted and concluded with a finding of no significant scientific misconduct.

Thomas M. Moncure, Jr.
University Counsel
Office of University Counsel
George Mason University

* * * *

I have looked into the matter and I am satisfied that there was no plagiarism involved.

Thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,

Clifford D. May [FDD Director]

 

(At the time of this writing JMU had not responded with a conclusion to their investigation.)

Meanwhile, I discovered that FPM continued to archive the Krause/Pham article on their site, now with a note appended which, significantly, had not appeared in the original version:

[The authors thank The Israel Project for its contribution to this essay. The Israel Project provided research to the authors and gave them advance approval to use it in any manner they deemed fit.]

The addition of this retroactive indulgence, allowed the editor of FPM to answer further inquiry by giving the professors a clean bill of health:

we resolved it. it turned out that the group had given the authors full permission to use their press release in any way they sought fit. so there was no plagiarism.

Oh. Students take note: if you are charged with plagiarism you can clear yourself by submitting a new version of the offending paper with a footnote claiming permission to copy. If this defense is greeted with skepticism by a college disciplinary committee you can cite as precedent the opinions of George Mason University’s general counsel and the editors of FPM.

Back at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the holy war for academic reform surges on. “Since 2003,” boasts the Dear Leader, we have “promoted an Academic Bill of Rights to support students’ academic freedom, free the American university from political indoctrination and renew its commitment to true intellectual diversity.”

Apparently plagiarists are considered an under-represented class among university faculty. Who knew?

Jeff Klein can be reached at: jjk123@comcast.net

 

 

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Jeff Klein is a writer and speaker on Middle East issues who travels frequently to the region.  An earlier version of this piece, with illustrations, can be found in his occasional blog: “At a Slight Angle to the Universe.” He can be reached at jjk123@comcast.net.

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