Tag Archives: Chronicle of Higher Education

The Story of Jewish Origins- As Told By DNA

There’s an intriguing report in the Chronicle of Higher Education that will, I think, be of interest to folk.

The story of Jewish origins, once the province of historians and religion scholars, is now being told by DNA.

Who is a Jew and where do Jews originate?

… Shlomo Sand, a professor at Tel Aviv University whose 2009 book, The Invention of the Jews (Verso Books), argued that Jews arose from converting many local communities in Europe and elsewhere. His argument is contradicted by [Harry] Ostrer’s work, which shows that geographically and culturally distant Jews still have more genes in common than they do with non-Jews around them, and that those genes can be traced back to the Levant, an area including modern-day Israel.

Give it a look if you’re so inclined.

The Chronicle of Higher Education: On the Verdict

Matthew Kalman has another report with more information and opinion in the wake of the verdict in The Chronicle of Higher Education including those asserting the authenticity of the inscriptions (in the middle of the essay) followed by those who don’t (at the end).  We pick up with the latter –

Across the Tel Aviv University campus, Yuval Goren, a prosecution witness and professor in the department of archaeology and ancient Near Eastern civilizations, was equally insistent in the opposite direction.

“I examined the materials covering the ossuary and the inscription, and we found out that the materials covering the inscription were not created in the natural processes typical of the Judean mountains area over the last 2,000 years,” said Mr. Goren.

“Since the verdict is not guilty, it means the accused had, first of all, very good lawyers but also there was no legal way to connect between them and the fraud. But it doesn’t really change much about the scientific conclusions because they are unrelated,” he insisted. “I think the scientific data still stands for itself.”

His view is supported by James E. West, adjunct professor of biblical studies at the Quartz Hill School of Theology and moderator of an influential online forum on biblical archaeology.

“Golan has harmed the field of archaeology in incalculable ways,” said Mr. West. “Whenever real, and important, discoveries are made, the public will view them with skepticism because now there will always underlie them the potential that they too are fakes. It may have been a good verdict for Golan personally—but for the field of ‘biblical archaeology’, this is a sad day, a bad day, and in truth, a tragic day.”

Israel Finkelstein, another professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University, was also a prosecution witness. He continues to believe the items are fakes and says archaeologists should avoid any item not found in a supervised excavation.

“A judicial procedure is one thing and an academic investigation—and debate—is another,” said Mr. Finkelstein. “As far as I can judge, there is enough evidence against the authenticity of the inscription on the ossuary and the Jehoash inscription.”

Eric M. Meyers, director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Duke University, said the failure to prove the items were forged “in no way means that they are authentic. The burden of proof that falls on the prosecution in a criminal case must rise to a high level of proof beyond reasonable doubt. The fact that the defendants have been acquitted thus does not end the matter of the quest to decide authenticity. This leaves much opportunity for academic opinion to continue to believe that these artifacts are not authentic and to question their provenance.”

Antonio Lombatti, an Italian church historian, said he expected the debate to continue. “If the carbon dating of the Turin shroud in 1988 didn’t put the word ‘end’ to the debate, I won’t expect a trial verdict to have the last word on a Jewish ossuary,” he said.

Antonio, you’re right…

More Professorial Misconduct

The University of Northern Virginia had already made news over an immigration raid last month of its Annandale office-mall headquarters.

Then, the story got stranger. Someone, presumably conducting a journalistic background sweep on university Chancellor David Lee, unearthed pictures and ads posted by the academician on an S&M Web site.

The revelation prompted little serious news coverage but fired up a whole ‘nother sector of the news media, drawing headlines such as this one, from Britain’s Daily Mail: “University chancellor, 64, exposed as sadomasochistic, suburban sex-dungeon master.”

In a letter dated Aug. 19 and posted to the university’s Web site, Lee wrote that he was stepping down immediately: “Discussions of my personal life have become a distraction,” he said, at a time when the campus faces “much more significant issues.” Lee’s replacement is Habib Khan.

Perv much?

The account stated that 64-year-old Lee had “transformed his basement into a suburban dungeon complete with bondage racks.” It said Lee and his companion posted ads seeking “attractive submissive” women to “be part of our poly family. Ideally you will consider yourself a slave or a sub with slave tendencies.”


Israeli Professors Protest Calls for Increased Zionism in Teaching

Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean sea in t...

That’s the title of Matthew Kalman’s article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Here’s how it starts-

Israeli professors took to the pages of the country’s leading Hebrew newspaper on Friday with a large advertisement denouncing “political pressures brought to bear on universities recently, which are tantamount to blatant interference in academic freedom.” The statement, which appeared in Haaretz, represented the faculties at all of Israel’s seven research universities and was the latest salvo in an increasingly bitter debate about the role of politics in university teaching. The vast majority of Israeli academics support the basic tenets of Zionism, the founding ideology of the state of Israel, which claims the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their historic homeland. Internal debates about the nature of Zionism, the role of religion and democracy, and relations with Arab neighbors are as old as the movement itself.

It’s a very interesting piece.