BOSTON - Alan Dershowitz is no stranger to feuds, but the outspoken Harvard Law School professor is in the middle of a particularly nasty spat with an author who accuses him of plagiarism.
Hoodlum. Nut job. Sleaze. Those are just a few of the names Mr. Dershowitz and DePaul University political science professor Norman Finkelstein called each other last week.
At the center of the argument is a book by Mr. Finkelstein claiming that Mr. Dershowitz — the lawyer famous for representing O.J. Simpson and other high-profile clients — inappropriately lifted material from another author when writing the book “The Case for Israel.”
The University of California Press plans to publish Mr. Finkelstein’s book, “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History,” in late August despite an aggressive campaign by Mr. Dershowitz to get them to drop it.
In letters to California officials, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Dershowitz accused Mr. Finkelstein of shoddy scholarship and threatened to sue for libel. The governor declined to intervene because of the “clear, academic freedom issue it presents,” his legal-affairs secretary told Mr. Dershowitz in a Feb. 8 letter.
Mr. Dershowitz said he warned the publishing house that he would “own the company” if the book accused him of plagiarism or included Mr. Finkelstein’s charge that he didn’t write the book in the first place.
Mr. Dershowitz also rejected Mr. Finkelstein’s accusation that he plagiarized parts of Joan Peters’ 1984 book “From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine.”
Mr. Finkelstein said he agreed to delete all references to “plagiarism,” changing the wording to say that Mr. Dershowitz “lifted” or “appropriated” material from Miss Peters, but he said the changes were only made to head off costly litigation.
Mr. Finkelstein’s book says that “fully 22 of the 52 quotations and endnotes in chapters 1 and 2 of ‘The Case for Israel’ match almost exactly — including, in long quotes, the placement of ellipses — those in ‘From Time Immemorial.’”