chicago maroon: e-mails in dead sea scrolls case may implicate prof norman golb

ilana kowarski of the chicago maroon (the university of chicago’s newspaper) has run a new story on the raphael golb / dead sea scrolls / identity theft scandal entitled, ‘e-mails in scrolls case may implicate prof.’ university of chicago oriental institute historian, norman golb, is quoted regarding the arrest and prosecution of his son, raphael golb, on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, the unauthorized use of a computer, and aggravated harassment.

the article states:

Raphael allegedly targeted and harassed intellectuals who disputed his father’s theory that the Dead Sea Scrolls originate in Jerusalem, rather than in Qumran, where the Scrolls were found. He allegedly harassed scholars by disseminating false accusations about them in public blogs and through e-mails to their friends and colleagues. The prosecution wrote that this allegation is supported by e-mails to other members of the family, including Dr. Golb, in a January 19 pre-trial motion.

norman golb responded with a cleverly-worded comment:

Dr. Golb wrote in a statement Friday that the evidence does not prove his involvement.

that is to say, norman golb is not denying that he was involved, but rather is saying that the evidence released in the new york district attorney’s response to his son’s motion to dismiss the charges against him does not prove his involvement.

norman golb’s response is not unlike the response he gave to canada’s national post in response to san diego natural history museum director mick hager, when hager stated:

“It seems curious at best, that untraceable e-mails were sent to the board of directors of the San Diego Natural History Museum prior to the opening of our Dead Sea scrolls exhibition, making unfounded claims and citing Norman Golb as an expert. Even more curious is that the same thing happened in Seattle, Kansas City, Charlotte and now Toronto.”

to this, golb replied via a letter to the editor of canada’s national post:

“I am unaware of any facts supporting these unusual assertions.”

that is to say, golb then did not deny involvement prior to his son’s arrest, but stated that he was ‘unaware of any facts’ to support that allegation. of course, once his son was arrested, the ‘facts supporting these unusual assertions’ were made public via indictments and other publicly available court documents. thus, golb’s statement to the chicago maroon is not a denial, but rather is his understanding of the evidence that will be presented in the coming trial of his son. he feels that the facts/evidence does not prove his involvement. a jury will decide.

likewise, according to the article, norman golb is now claiming that he is the victim in this case:

Dr. Golb suggested Cargill had taken issue with a sour turn in a scholarly debate, leading to the court case. “As the consequence of a long-standing academic dispute, a campaign of personal attacks is now being waged against me and my family. Claimed ‘evidence’ is being grossly distorted for unworthy purposes and removed from context,” Dr. Golb wrote in the statement.

so apparently, as long as one is on the offensive attacking other scholars behind a veil on anonymity, it is a legitimate endeavor. but, as soon as the curtain is pulled back and the true identity of those behind the green curtain is exposed, and the perpetrators are rightly prosecuted for their alleged crimes, this is a personal attack.  this is a victim mentality at it’s finest. go figure.

norman golb also stated:

“It is perfectly normal for any academic family to express indignation in the case of its members being silenced, excluded, and misrepresented or, to all appearances, plagiarized. In the present case, fair-minded people with knowledge of the circumstances will quite readily come to understand who the victims and the victimizers are.”

again, golb is apparently attempting to frame his son’s defense about his ongoing claim that he and his views have been unfairly ‘silenced, excluded, and misrepresented or, to all appearances, plagiarized,’ and not about the crimes allegedly committed by his son, raphael, in this specific case. it appears as if golb is either attempting to justify his and his son’s actions as just retaliation for the treatment he believes he has received over the past few decades, or, that he is attempting to divert attention from the criminal charges in the case against his son by arguing the defense one might expect in a civil suit against him, his sons, and his employer, the university of chicago.

it is also interesting to note that this is the first time (that i can recall) that norman golb himself suggests that he has been ‘to all appearances, plagiarized.’ his son accused someone of it, but this is the first time i’ve seen norman golb himself use the word in this case.

i replied in the article:

“A little professional jealousy can be a powerful motivator for scholars, encouraging them to focus on their work and produce new and better scholarship. However, when this jealousy, greed, or malice reaches a point where an individual is furtively, yet tenaciously and ubiquitously attempting to smear another scholar to the extent that Raphael Golb and perhaps members of his family are alleged to have done, it runs the danger of crossing into civilly actionable and even criminally actionable activity,” Cargill said in an e-mail interview.

the article also mentions one of the most implicating emails in the scandal:

The court documents allege Raphael sent e-mails to his brother and mother from alias accounts, including one dated July 24, 2008, that says, “By the way, if Dad has some comment on the latest Charles Gadda [an alleged alias of Raphael’s] exchange, he can send it through your e-mail, that way there would be no trace of it in his account.”

the full extent of the publicly available evidence against golb is available here and here.


interestingly, the article did not include some of the answers i gave in response to questions asked by the article’s author regarding the case.

i was asked about our notifying the oriental institute and university of chicago administrators about norman golb’s activities. specifically, i was asked about an exchange of letters between me and oi administrators and the university’s general counsel. the questions and answers were as follows:

>>When were letters sent to the Oriental Institute?

we first contacted the oi about norman golb in late in 2007. beyond that, i have no comment.

>>What did those letters say?

out of respect for the private correspondence between us and the oi, i shall not divulge the contents of the email.

>>To your knowledge, did the Oriental Institute take any action as a result of this correspondence?

i have no knowledge of whether or not the oi or the university of chicago have opened an ethical misconduct investigation or a criminal activity investigation into the actions of norman golb.

shortly after our exchange of letters in feb. 2009, the oi promptly removed a document dr. golb had written about me from the oi website. a few weeks later, raphael golb was arrested.

(the oi’s announcement noting the removal of the document is here: http://oi.uchicago.edu/pdf/san_diego_virtual_reality_2007.pdf)

>>If the allegations against Raphael Golb are true, do you think Prof. Golb or the University of Chicago are at all responsible for the alleged crimes?

no comment.

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2 Responses

  1. it’s just all so repulsive.

  2. [...] chicago maroon: e-mails in dead sea scrolls case may implicate prof norman golb (2/16/2010) [...]

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