NY Court of Appeals Upholds Raphael Golb’s Conviction on 29 of 30 Counts

Still Guilty - Raphael Golb

Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was found guilty on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer in the Criminal Division of the New York Supreme Court, September 30, 2010. On January 29, 2013, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department upheld the convictions on 29 of 30 counts for which Golb was convicted.

Word from the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department this evening is that a three-judge panel ruled unanimously to uphold the convictions on 29 of 30 felony and misdemeanor counts for which Raphael Golb was convicted in 2010.

In November of 2010, the Criminal Division of the New York Supreme Court found Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, guilty of 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer.

Prior to the trial, Golb turned down a plea bargain agreement in which he would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, paid a fine, served 80 hours of community service, and been placed on three years probation.

Instead, Golb was convicted of 2 felony counts and 28 misdemeanors, and was sentenced to six months in prison and five years of probation, in addition to incurring the cost of a jury trial defense and an appeal.

The Court of Appeals issued this decision:

People v Golb
2013 NY Slip Op 00436
Decided on January 29, 2013
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Decided on January 29, 2013
Mazzarelli, J.P., Renwick, Richter, Gische, Clark, JJ.
9101 2721/09

[*1]The People of the State of New York, Respondent,
v
Raphael Golb, Defendant-Appellant.

Ronald L. Kuby, New York, for appellant.
Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York (Vincent
Rivellese of counsel), for respondent.

Judgment, Supreme Court, New York County (Carol Berkman, J.), rendered November 18, 2010, convicting defendant, after a jury trial, of identity theft in the second degree (2 counts), criminal impersonation in the second degree (14 counts), forgery in the third degree (10 counts), aggravated harassment in the second degree (3 counts), and unauthorized use of a computer, and sentencing him to an aggregate term of six months, unanimously modified, on the law and facts, to the extent of vacating the identity theft conviction under the first count of the indictment and dismissing that count, and otherwise affirmed. The matter is remitted to Supreme Court, New York County, for further proceedings pursuant to CPL 460.50(5).

One of the two felony counts was vacated and dismissed, but the Appellate Division unanimously denied Golb’s appeal and reaffirmed the guilty verdict on the other 29 counts, including one felony.

The chart below (updated from the who-is-charles-gadda.com website) lists each charge, conviction, and appellate decision of the convicted felon Raphael Golb.

CHARGE
DATE
CHARGE
SUMMARY
VERDICT (Sept. 30, 2010)
APPEAL DECISION (Jan. 29, 2013)
1. 7/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL 190.79(3). Identity theft in the second degree
(E-CLASS FELONY) (1 of 2 counts)
Assumed identity of Lawrence Schiffman and committed/attempted to commit felony of Scheme to Defraud 1st Degree.
GUILTY
Vacated and Dismissed
2. 7/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL 190.79(3). Identity theft in the second degree
(E-CLASS FELONY) (2 of 2 counts)
Assumed identity of Lawrence Schiffman and committed/attempted to commit felony of Falsifying Business Records 1st Degree
GUILTY
UPHELD
3. 8/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL 240.30(l)(a) Aggravated harassment in the second degree
(1 of 3 counts)
Aggravated harassment of Dr. Lawrence Schiffman
GUILTY
UPHELD
4. 8/3/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(1 of 14 counts)
Created larry.schiffman@gmail.com email account
GUILTY
UPHELD
5. 8/4/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(2 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffrnan@gmail.com to Dr. Schiffman’s students
GUILTY
UPHELD
6. 8/4/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(1 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffrnan@gmail.com to Dr. Schiffman’s students
GUILTY
UPHELD
7. 8/5/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(3 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to multiple NYU email addresses
GUILTY
UPHELD
8. 8/5/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(2 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to multiple NYU email addresses
GUILTY
UPHELD
9. 8/5/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(4 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU Dean Stimpson
GUILTY
UPHELD
10. 8/5/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(3 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU Dean Stimpson
GUILTY
UPHELD
11. 8/5/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(5 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU provost
GUILTY
UPHELD
12. 8/5/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(4 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU provost
GUILTY
UPHELD
13. 8/6/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(6 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYUNews.com, forwarding email from Provost office.
GUILTY
UPHELD
14. 8/6/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(5 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYUNews.com, forwarding email from Provost office.
GUILTY
UPHELD
15. 11/22/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(7 of 14 counts)
Created email account seidel.jonathan@gmail.com
GUILTY
UPHELD
16. 11/22/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(8 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
GUILTY
UPHELD
17. 11/22/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(6 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
GUILTY
UPHELD
18. 11/24/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(9 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Risa Kohn (ROM’s curator for Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit)
GUILTY
UPHELD
19. 11/24/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(7 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Risa Kohn (ROM’s curator for Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit)
GUILTY
UPHELD
20. 11/24/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(10 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Norman Golb
GUILTY
UPHELD
21. 11/24/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(8 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Norman Golb
GUILTY
UPHELD
22. 12/6/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(11 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Stephen Goranson internet post
GUILTY
UPHELD
23. 12/6/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(9 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Stephen Goranson internet post
GUILTY
UPHELD
24. 7/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL240.30(l)(a) Aggravated harassment in the second degree
(2 of 3 counts)
Aggravated Harassment of Stephen Goranson
GUILTY
UPHELD
25. 8/7/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(12 of 14 counts)
Created email account steve.goranson@gmail.com
GUILTY
UPHELD
26. 7/20/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(13 of 14 counts)
Created email account frank.cross2@gmail.com
GUILTY
UPHELD
27. 7/20/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(14 of 14 counts)
Sent email from frank.cross2@gmail.com regarding Bart Ehrman and the Jewish Museum
GUILTY
UPHELD
28. 7/20/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(10 of 10 counts)
Sent email from frank.cross2@gmail.com regarding Bart Ehrman and the Jewish Museum
GUILTY
UPHELD
29. 6/1/2007 – 3/1/2009 PL 240.30(l)(a) Aggravated harassment in the second degree
(3 of 3 counts)
Aggravated harassment of Robert Cargill
GUILTY
UPHELD
30. 7/1/2008 – 3/1/2009 PL 156.05 Unauthorized use of a Computer
(1 count)
Unauthorized use of NYU computers to commit criminal offenses and otherwise in violation of NYU computer use policy
GUILTY
UPHELD

The rest of the appellate court’s decision reads as follows:

Defendant’s convictions arise out of his use of emails to impersonate actual persons. Nothing in this prosecution, or in the court’s jury charge, violated defendant’s First Amendment or other constitutional rights.

Defendant is the son of an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Defendant set up email accounts in which he pretended to be other scholars who disagreed with defendant’s father’s opinion on the origin of the Scrolls. Among other things, defendant sent emails in which one of his father’s rivals purportedly admitted to acts of plagiarism.

Defendant’s principal defense was that these emails were only intended to be satiric hoaxes or pranks. However, as it has been observed in the context of trademark law, “[a] parody must convey two simultaneous – and contradictory – messages: that it is the original, but also that it is not the original and is instead a parody” (Cliffs Notes, Inc. v Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub. Group, Inc., 886 F2d 490, 494 [2d Cir 1989]). Here, the evidence clearly established that defendant never intended any kind of parody. Instead, he only intended to convey the first message to the readers of the emails, that is, that the purported authors were the actual authors. It was equally clear that defendant intended that the recipients’ reliance on this deception would cause harm to the purported authors and benefits to defendant or his father.

The court’s charge, which incorporated many of defendant’s requests, fully protected his constitutional rights, and the court was not required to grant defendant’s requests for additional instructions. The court carefully informed the jury that academic discussion, parody, satire and the use of pseudonyms were protected by the First Amendment.

The court also ensured that the jury understood the terms “fraud” and “defraud” by [*2]expanding their definition and advised the jury that “without the intent to deceive or defraud as to the source of the speech with the intent to reap a benefit from that deceit, there is no crime.” The court was under no obligation to limit the definitions of “injure” or “defraud” – terms used in the forgery and criminal impersonation statutes – to tangible harms such as financial harm (see People v Kase, 76 AD2d 532, 537-538 [1st Dept 1980], affd 53 NY2d 989 [1981]). The court also properly employed the statutory definition of “benefit” as “any gain or advantage” to defendant or to another person (Penal Law § 10.00[17]).

Defendant argues that it is constitutionally impermissible to include an intent to influence a constitutionally-protected academic debate within the concept of fraud, injury or benefit, that allowing injury to reputation to satisfy the injury element would effectively revive the long-abandoned offense of criminal libel, and that, in any event, the alleged truth of the content of the emails should have been permitted as a defense. However, the evidence established that defendant intended harm that fell within the plain meaning of the term “injure,” and that was not protected by the First Amendment, including damage to the careers and livelihoods of the scholars he impersonated. Defendant also intended to create specific benefits for his father’s career. The fact that the underlying dispute between defendant and his father’s rivals was a constitutionally-protected debate does not provide any First Amendment protection for acts that were otherwise unlawful.

Defendant was not prosecuted for the content of any of the emails, but only for giving the false impression that his victims were the actual authors of the emails. The First Amendment protects the right to criticize another person, but it does not permit anyone to give an intentionally false impression that the source of the message is that other person (see SMJ Group, Inc. v 417 Lafayette Restaurant LLC, 439 F Supp 2d 281 (SD NY 2006]).

We have considered and rejected defendant’s remaining arguments concerning the court’s charge. We similarly reject his claims that the statutes under which he was convicted were unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. None of these statutes was vague or overbroad on its face or as applied (see People v Shack, 86 NY2d 529, 538 [1995]; Broadrick v Oklahoma, 413 US 601, 611-616 [1973]). The People were required to prove that defendant had the specific fraudulent intent to deceive email recipients about his identity, and to obtain benefits or cause injuries as a result of the recipients’ reliance on that deception. The statutes criminalized the act of impersonation and its unlawful intent, not the content of speech falsely imputed to the victims.

The verdict was based on legally sufficient evidence and was not against the weight of the evidence, with the exception of the identity theft conviction under the first count. The theory of that count was that in the commission of identity theft in the second degree (Penal Law § 190.79[3]), defendant attempted to commit the felony of scheme to defraud in the first degree [*3](Penal Law § 190.65[1][b]). However, there was no evidence that defendant intended to defraud one or more persons of property in excess of $1,000 or that he attempted to do so (see id.). The People’s assertions in this regard rest on speculation.

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER
OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: JANUARY 29, 2013

CLERK

(emphases mine)

If Dr. Golb stays true to form, he will almost certainly appeal this again, perhaps in some other jurisdiction. If nothing else, this case has demonstrated that certain people have tremendous difficulty putting down the shovel after digging themselves into a hole.

Still, I am pleased with the court’s decision. While the wheels of justice turn slowly, and afford the guilty every possible avenue of defense, the process has demonstrated that it works in the end.

on recent erroneous claims made by the minnesota dead sea scrolls exhibition

Science Museum of Minnesotaa point of order, mr. speaker.

i recently came across the march 13, 2010 associated press article on the kstp.com website entitled, ‘dead sea scrolls exhibit goes on display in minn.‘ the article is publicizing the latest dead sea scrolls exhibition at the science museum of minnesota in st. paul, minnesota. before i could even get a couple of paragraphs into the article, i noticed some glaring mistakes.

i must take issue with the ap’s article on two matters. first, the article claims the following incorrect statement:

By incorporating new archaeological finds and recent scholarship, the exhibit is the first to fully present two competing theories: Were the scrolls written and collected by an ultra-religious Jewish group living in the desert? Or were the manuscripts smuggled out of Jerusalem on the eve of the Roman invasion in A.D. 70 and hidden for safekeeping in the wilderness?

this statement is not only misleading, it is downright false. and not only is the statement untrue, it is guilty of the very overly-simplistic, either-or dichotomy that has plagued dead sea scrolls scholarship for the past six decades.

let’s deal with the first problem first.

as a matter of fact, previous exhibitions have indeed discussed the multiple theories concerning the origins of the dead sea scrolls and the nature of the settlement at qumran. in my ‘ancient qumran: a virtual reality tour‘ movie that was on exhibit at the san diego natural history museum in 2007, i specifically noted that some scholars argue that the dead sea scrolls came from elsewhere and that qumran was established as a hasmonean fort. in addition, i also mentioned the multiple other theories concerning the nature of qumran, including a pottery factory, a trading depot, a tannery, a pilgrimage site, all in addition to the identification as a sectarian center. likewise, i asked who the residents of the cave were and what that meant for the origin of the dead sea scrolls.

don’t believe me? here’s a clip from the movie’s trailer:

thus, the minnesota exhibit is certainly not ‘the first to fully present two competing theories.’ it was done at san diego in 2007.

likewise, there aren’t just two theories! this ‘two salient theories’ argument has been the mantra of norman golb and his indicted son, raphael, since the dead sea scrolls began touring the united states years ago. in one of raphael golb’s anonymous blogs written under the now notorious alias ‘charles gadda,’ golb points out that the language of a simple dichotomy of ‘two salient theories’ comes, in fact, from a cambridge history of judaism article (1999, vol. 3, chap. 25) on the dead sea scrolls written by none other than norman golb himself!! here we have an example of a scholar (golb in this case) writing an article about his particular theory, using an anonymous alias to promote the article and the theory while discrediting other museum exhibitions that do not talk enough about said scholar, and a museum being influenced by a student of said scholar (in this case michael wise) to frame their exhibit in the form of the very dichotomy which was set forth by the very scholar who originally wrote the article. if that sounds confusing (and self-serving), that’s because it’s supposed to be! one of the purposes of using aliases is to disguise the origins of something to make it look objective, when in reality it is nothing more than self-citation. apparently, the minnesota dead sea scrolls exhibition was circularly talked into framing its exhibit in a manner that promotes the very scholar (golb) who originally came up with the framework adopted by the museum. thus, while multiple other museums presenting other dead sea scrolls exhibits managed to see through the charade of aliases and anonymous reports that according to the new york district attorney’s office were the product of the golbs (see here and here), the administrators of the science museum of minnesota fell prey to it. and, in an attempt to justify their decision, they have claimed to be ‘the first to fully present two competing theories,’ when, as has been shown above, that is simply not the case.

this, of course, is precisely why we’ve seen no massive, negative online campaign criticizing this minnesota exhibition like we did with seattle, san diego, north carolina, and toronto. for one, norman golb, the ludwig rosenberger professor of jewish history and civilization at the university of chicago’s oriental institute, has finally been invited to speak as a part of a dead sea scrolls exhibition. that norman golb was repeatedly not invited to speak at the various exhibitions was a major point of contention for the golbs (see here and here). second, golb’s son, raphael, was arrested on 50+ felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and unauthorized use of a computer in connection with his participation in an online smear campaign that attacked various museums and administrators, their dead sea scrolls exhibitions, and the scholars that participated in them (like lawrence schiffman, jodi magness, william schniedewind, david noel freedman, risa levitt kohn, bart erhman, myself, and others) because, in part, he felt the exhibitions did not adequately represent his father, norman’s, point of view regarding the dead sea scrolls. when golb was arrested on march 5, 2009, all online hostilities immediately ceased (with the exception of a few anonymous comments on a few articles a few months later). court documents recently made available to the public have shown that raphael, his father, norman golb, and his brother, joel golb, exchanged emails regarding critiques of the exhibitions and comments made about other scholars, and demonstrate that the golbs employed numerous aliases to propagate a campaign of criticism and harassment against scholars that disagreed with norman golb’s theories. thus, the combination of norman golb being invited to speak, the science museum of minnesota following a simplistic paradigm that golb created, and the indictment of golb’s son mean that criticism of the science museum of minnesota is not surprisingly lacking.

Michael Wise

Dr. Michael Wise, student of Norman Golb, is advisor to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Norman Golb

Dr. Norman Golb was Michael Wise's teacher at the University of Chicago.

this leads us to ask: why has the minnesota exhibition taken this ‘new’ approach, which they claim to be original? the answer may lie in the fact that one of norman golb’s former university of chicago doctoral students, michael wise, is listed as a ‘museum consultant’ and advisor to the exhibit. now, michael wise is a fine scholar and an excellent choice as an advisor for the minnesota dead sea scrolls exhibit. he has spent his career studying the scrolls and i am certain he will be an asset to the success of the minnesota exhibition. but let us not forget that michael wise was a student of norman golb at the university of chicago. it should therefore be of no surprise that norman golb has finally been invited to speak as a distinguished lecturer at the minnesota exhibition – a demand his son, raphael, has been making anonymously on his behalf for years now. at the same time, it is unfortunate that the science museum of minnesota’s administrators have apparently (at least, accorting to the associated press’ article) bought into golb’s straw man argument that there are only two theories concerning qumran: golb’s theory and the ‘traditional’ theory.

specifically, there is a third ‘salient’ theory that essentially blends the two polar opposite approaches. it is a theory that has been researched and advanced by scholars like stephen pfann (see his articles here, where i first encountered the theory). the theory works well with the research of lawrence schiffman (nyu) and john collins (yale). i adopted this approach in my recent book, qumran through (real) time. this theory is alternatively called the ‘multi-cave’ theory, the ‘cave cluster’ theory, or the ‘multi-party’ theory (or make up your own name). but in the long run, i am convinced it will be known as the dominant theory concerning the origin of the dead sea scrolls: that different groups (including essenes, priests, zadokites, sadducees, zealots, pharisees, and/or other unknown jewish groups) hid different scrolls (including the damascus rule, the serekhs (1qs, 1qsa, and 1qsb), biblical literature, and extra-biblical/pseudepigraphical literature) in different caves or cave clusters (caves 4-5 and 7-9 immediately surrounding the qumran settlement vs. cave 1 and 2 farther away vs. cave 11 vs. cave 3, etc.) near qumran. the cave cluster theory (as pfann has dubbed it) allows for a small sectarian group (perhaps the essenes or a sub-group identifying with the essenes) at qumran to have hidden scrolls in caves 4, 5, and 7-9, while a different group (like zealots) to have hidden their scrolls in cave 11, priests (of some origin) to have hidden scrolls in caves 1 and 6, while still other unknown jewish groups to have hidden completely different scrolls in cave 3 (for example, no copies or fragments from the serekhs or the damascus rule were discovered in cave 3 with the copper scroll).

it is worth noting that this multiple cave/multiple peoples theory will be the focus of a forthcoming documentary on national geographic channel in april. of course, the great irony is that one of dr. golb’s contributions to dead sea scrolls research is the suggestion that some (not all) of the dead sea scrolls may have come from outside qumran, an idea that is now widely accepted (despite the fact that golb’s son often intentionally mischaracterized the original theory for rhetorical purposes, claiming that those who believe there was a sectarian group living at the site believed that all scrolls came from qumran, which golb held up as a straw man argument to knock down). likewise, dr. golb was correct (imho) in his understanding of qumran as having initially been constructed as a fortress, a position that yuval peleg, i, and others have accepted and that many scholars and explorers prior to dr. golb also published, such as bar-adon, masterman, dalman, among others. however, some of dr. golb’s conclusions also appear to have been in err, like his suggestion that qumran was always a fort, or the suggestion that absolutely none of the dead sea scrolls came from qumran. thus, there is evidence that some of the scrolls may have come from qumran, and evidence that some (like the copper scroll) may have not.

of course, this entire argument is lost on the science museum of minnesota’s curator of archaeology, dr. ed fleming, who later states in the article:

“Really there is no serious evidence, in my mind,” he said.

Handwriting analysis suggests the manuscripts were written by several hundred people, too many to have lived in one location. And the texts represent more than one community’s point of view.

this is the analysis from the museum curator who, according to press and with all due respect:

received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota. Most of his research is focused on material culture of the Late Prehistoric period in the Upper Mississippi River.

according to fleming’s analysis, there were too many different scribal hands used in writing the scrolls (which, by the way, has been one of norman golb’s central arguments for decades) for all of the authors to have lived at qumran. but this assumes all the scrolls were written by sectarians at the same time! and yet, we know that the scrolls were not all authored all at the same time, but from the late third century bce down until 68 ce – a period of nearly 300 years! and, lest we forget, there is a cemetery adjacent to qumran consisting of nearly 1000 tombs. given magen and peleg’s (and everyone else’s except magness) calculation that the site was occupied form the mid-hasmonean period until 68 ce, if there were enough time to fill a cemetery with 1000 people, then probably more than a few of them could write over these many generations, thus explaining the diversity of scribal hands. if we add to the mix the fact that inkwells were found in a site surrounded by a tannery used for making parchment, animal bones and stables located on site that provided the leather, pottery of the same chemical composition as those ceramic vessels discovered in the caves with the scrolls, and, lest we forget, a bunch of scrolls discovered in caves 7-9 in the qumran settlement’s backyard and caves 4-5 right next to the site, then i’d say, with all due respect to dr. fleming, that there is perhaps some evidence to support a claim that some of the scrolls were created at qumran. further more, if after reading the scrolls, we read about a community of initiates (that is, not born into the sect, but joining from the outside) that sought to remove itself from what it considered a corrupt temple and into the desert, pooled their assets (explaining the wealth of coins found at the site and further explaining the diversity of scrolls brought from outside the site), and obsessed with ritual purity (explaining the presence of at least two miqva’ot or rital baths), then maybe we can explain why so many scrolls from so many different time periods from so many scribal hands could be found in the caves next to qumran. some were written there, some were brought to the site over the 150-200 years of its occupation, and some had nothing to do with the site.

but to dr. fleming, ‘really there is no serious evidence.’

alex jassen, on the other hand, the fine dead sea scrolls scholar from the university of minnesota whom i had the pleasure of sitting on a panel with this past december at the association for jewish studies annual meeting in los angeles, understands that were the scrolls all from disparate libraries throughout jerusalem and none from qumran, one would have an even harder time explaining the congruency of the scrolls (especially the sectarian manscripts), and the loathing of the contemporary jerusalem temple leadership and the sanhedrin in scrolls originating from jerusalem. simply put, arguing that all the dead sea scrolls come from jerusalem creates more problems than it solves.

the article states:

Jassen subscribes to a variation on this theory – that a religious group lived and wrote at Qumran but also brought manuscripts from other groups and places. When the Romans threatened their community, they hid their library in the caves.

“I think the evidence seems to be pretty strong that this is a unified collection that represents the distinct library of a community of ancient Jews who were quite devout in their observance of Jewish law and ritual,” he said.

the conclusion is, of course, that some of the scrolls originated from or were brought to qumran by sectarians, while other scrolls, like the scrolls from cave 3 like the copper scroll were placed there by other jews. there is no reason to force a choice between two equally bad extreme choices.

in sum, the curator of the minnesota dead sea scrolls exhibition has apparently caved in to the demands of norman golb, who along with his student, michael wise (a consultant to the exhibition), has apparently convinced museum administrators that the exhibition should follow golb’s approach to the dead sea scrolls. these museum curators are either ignorant of the contents of previous dead sea scrolls exhibitions (as demonstrated above), or have knowingly turned a blind eye to the other exhibitions and have made false claims about the nature of their exhibition. the curator of the minnesota dead sea scrolls exhibit has erroneously characterized previous scrolls exhibitions as negligent of the different theories surrounding qumran (specifically of golb’s theory), a claim that has principally been made over the years by none other than norman golb himself.

enjoy the exhibit.

(for tickets visit the science museum of minnesota website.)

rom dead sea scrolls exhibition breaks record

in the midst of a global economic downturn, toronto has something about which to be very excited: the royal ontairo museum’s exhibition of the dead sea scrolls was a huge success. according to canada’s national post:

“Words that Changed the World,” is the most popular exhibition staged at the Royal Ontario Museum in the past nine years.

the numbers are quite impressive:

331,500 people visited the exhibit between its opening on June 27, 2009 and its January 3 closing earlier this year. That makes the exhibit the most successful since Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids almost a decade ago.

according to the museum’s press release,

From the exhibition’s June 27, 2009 opening to its January 3, 2010 closing, an exceptional 331, 500 visitors responded to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century. This attendance includes those viewing the Ten Commandments Scroll, on display at the ROM for only 80 hours from October 10 through October 18, 2009. The great appeal of these presentations led to the Royal Ontario Museum’s 2009 attendance reaching 1,024,964 visitors. This figure includes Dead Sea Scrolls’school visits of approximately 12,000 students and accompanying adults, as well as over 790 organized groups representing approximately 23,000 visitors.

it is encouraging to see that 12,000 students got to see the scrolls. i’m always encouraged when young minds get to see anything ancient.

according to the press release the distinguished lecture series was also highly successful:

Approximately 4,500 people attended the Anne Tanenbaum Lecture Series, making it the largest, most successful lecture series in the ROM’s history.

the fact that 4,500 people were willing to pay to come and hear professional nerds talk about the scrolls also speaks to the intelligence of the toronto residents and visitors. imho, the distinguished lecturer series was a perfect blend of dss scholars, and one of the best and most relevant programs ever assembled.

so, despite drummed up protests across from the entrance, the rom experienced record attendance. i’m trying to determine what was different about the toronto exhibition that was not present in san diego and raleigh/durham. why was the toronto exhibition so positive? can anyone think of anything?

anywho, congrats to the rom, its administration, all the participants, and the curator, dr. risa levitt kohn for all their hard work. your success is well deserved!

oh… so you were just kidding this whole time

Raphael Golb

Raphael Golb, accused of multiple counts of forgery, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and impersonation

direct from the ‘you have got to be kidding me’ wing of the lawyering hall of shame comes this, as reported by the chronicle of higher education on november 7, 2009:

A novel legal argument is being used to defend a New York man accused of stealing identities and using them to send e-mail messages and make online comments designed to discredit his father’s academic rivals over their interpretations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Associated Press reports. The defense lawyer for the accused man, Raphael Golb, says that most of the charges against his client should be dismissed because to uphold them would imperil pranks, parodies, blog comments made under assumed names, and other freewheeling elements of the Internet. Mr. Golb has pleaded not guilty to charges of identity theft and criminal impersonation, in a case originally detailed in The Chronicle. His lawyer, Ronald Kuby, said in court filings this week that whoever sent the messages under other people’s names — and it wasn’t his client — was putting on an “intellectual prank” protected by the First Amendment.

where does one begin? we knew golb and his defense would attempt to turn this into a soapbox for a referendum on his father’s views. we knew that he would attempt to prove his ridiculous accusations were ‘true’ by trying to drag up a bunch of conspiracy nonsense in a trial. we even knew that he would attempt to argue that identity theft and impersonation were protected under the first amendment right to free speech. we expected all this.

what we didn’t expect was for golb’s defense to use a ‘it was a joke’ defense. how would that even sound? how does one claim that a two-year campaign of harassment and defamation ultimately resulting in impersonation, forgery, and identity theft was just a ‘prank’? well, perhaps the defense would sound something like this:

[and yes, the following is a parody of what a 'just kidding' or 'intellectual prank' defense might sound like. the actual defense may differ, and the following parody in no way purports to be the actual words of raphael golb or his attorney]

you thought i was serious?? ha ha ha ha! oh man, aaahhhh, sorry. i was just kidding. it was just a prank. i was just foolin’.

sorry about impersonating you, dr. schiffman. i was just kidding. man, you should have seen the expression on your face. lol. boy, did you get punk’d. when i wrote to your grad students and wrote in the first person and pretended to be you from an email address i created that bore your name, dude, i was totally joking. when i confessed to a crime you didn’t commit on your behalf, i wasn’t bein’ serious. everyone knew i was totally kidding. dude, all those nyu administrators and your colleagues that i spammed accusing you of plagiarizing my daddy, i was so totally just kidding. i wasn’t serious. you had to know it was just an intellectual joke. i just know we’re all gonna just look back at this whole thing and just laugh.

and sorry about that cargill. when i wrote to your faculty and questioned whether you should receive your phd, i was just joshin’. my bad. you had to know that my criticisms weren’t serious. i was just playin’. all those times i accused you of plagiarism and all those times i made fun of you for being a christian, and all those times i wrote to museums like toronto and tried to keep your research from ending up in museum exhibitions, dude, i was just kidding. i wasn’t trying to cause you actual fiscal damage. not at all! it was more like an episode of punk’d. me and ashton kutcher, we’re like this. and when my dad asked for a copy of your unpublished movie script, and you actually agreed to send it to him out of a sense of professionalism, even though he was a known critic?? boy, i could have warned you on that one, dude! you were so naïve! and when you put those warnings on the top of the script and in the email accompanying the script stating that absolutely no portion of your unpublished script could be reproduced, and dad still reproduced several passages online in a critique, dude, you should have totally seen that comin’. you can’t take dad’s criticisms seriously – for crying out loud, he can only ‘publish’ (and i use the term loosely) by self-publishing some rant he wrote and then slappin’ it up on the oriental institute website. no one ever publishes his nonsense anymore. besides, dad was only kidding! and when the oi lawyers removed his critique of your movie from the oi website, he knew you and your legal advisors were just kidding too. see, we were both just kidding around. but seriously cargill, it was all just a joke. i was just playin’ a prank. why are you harshin’ my mellow??

and sorry san diego natural history museum and north carolina museum of natural sciences and royal ontario museum. you thought i was really trying to drive down your ticket sales by criticizing your exhibitions? you thought i was trying to harm your bottom line when i wrote to journalists and encouraged them to investigate the ‘controversy’ that dad and i stirred up? you thought my critiques of your exhibitions were serious?? no, i was just playing a little prank. i wasn’t trying to drive away visitors and cost you actual dollars. i was jus’ keeeding.

and sorry bart ehrman about publishing private correspondence online. that was totally a joke. in fact, daddy and i got a real kick out of that one here in chicago over the holiday. you actually thought i was a real person?? ha ha ha.

and risa, wow, i don’t know what to say. you thought i was serious? you thought i was trying to harm your reputation and career? those letters i wrote to newspapers and journalists about you were simply parody. everyone knows i like to joke and kid. c’mon, you thought i was serious? i’m just like stephen colbert – there was totally an expectation of parody in my tone. everyone knows i’m a jokester. i wasn’t really trying to hurt you, i just wanted to make you laugh. it was all one big prank.

and david noel freedman, i know you’re dead and all, but when i criticized you and called you a fraud only days after your death, man, i’ll bet you were rolling over in your grave. i was sooo just kidding.

and bill schniedewind, when i was going onto your wikipedia page and accusing you of all sorts of stuff, dude, i was totally just playin’. i knew you’d see it was a joke, and that those ten different aliases were all me just trying to see how much crap i could get up on your page. and dude, you didn’t even fight back. you just took it. it was kind of a bummer, but it’s cool now bro, you know i was just pullin’ your chain.

[thus ends the parody.]

this is perhaps the most novel defense in recent history: he will literally stand up before a real judge in a real court and argue  ‘i was just kidding.’ i wonder if that same defense will work with some of the terrorists that golb’s attorney, ron kuby, defends:

[begin parody]

yes, i know i blew up that building, but me and the boys were just blowin’ off steam. we were just joking. it wasn’t meant to be serious…

[end parody]

if one’s defense is ‘it was just a prank,’ and said prank goes too far and breaks the law, then said prankster is responsible. the same is true for accidents that take place in vehicles when the driver is just ‘foolin’ around.’

again, i shake my head…

on recent news about the ‘cloak and browser’ case against raphael golb

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment while using aliases to promote the views of his father, Dr. Norman Golb, and smear the names of his father's perceived opponents.

raphael haim golb was back in court on wed. nov. 3, 2009, providing the latest episode in the ever-enthralling ‘cloak and browser’ internet anonymity scandal involving the son of university of chicago historian norman golb, who impersonated another scholar and confessed to plagiarism in his name.

in his about new york column, new york times columnist jim dwyer wrote a nov. 6, 2009 piece about the raphael golb internet scandal entitled, ‘2,000-year-old scrolls, internet-era crime.’ likewise, the associated press wrote a summary of golb’s recent nov 4, 2009 court proceedings entitled, ‘lawyer claims parodies, pranks at risk in dead sea scrolls case.’ likewise, jennifer peltz of the associated press also wrote an article entitled, ‘ny case spotlights dead sea scrolls, fake e-mails‘ which appears on yahoo news. clearly, this case is important both for its implications regarding anonymity, impersonation, and identity theft on the internet, and its repercussions for scholarship within the academy.

and each day that this case drags on, university of chicago historian norman golb’s legacy and reputation becomes more associated with scandal, dishonesty, internet crime and academic fraud, and less associated with his life of scholarship. yet, raphael golb’s defense is insisting that golb’s actions are protected by the first amendment to the constitution.

recent proceedings in the case of the people of new york vs. raphael golb

while the recent press coverage of the golb scandal has been fair, it is relaying some claims by the defense that are misleading or simply not true.

for instance, in his new york times article, dwyer states:

For a while, no one knew that 50 different names in the Dead Sea Scrolls debate were the prolific Mr. Golb…

this is incorrect. i knew, as did a host of others. we all knew. i knew who it was. i tracked everything he did. the potential libel and defamation were civil matters, and i wanted an accurate log of everything golb did or wrote. but when he crossed the line and acted criminally by impersonating nyu professor dr. lawrence schiffman, i contacted schiffman (as i had done with several other scholars before him), told him who was behind it, and handed what i had collected over to the ny district attorney’s office.

======

another instance is the claim by raphael golb’s attorney, ronald kuby, that what golb did is commonplace. according to dwyer, golb’s lawyer:

argued that prosecutors were trying to criminalize the commonplace. Both sides in the Dead Sea Scrolls debate, they said, use “sock puppets” — fake identities — on the Internet to make it seem as if scores of people are arguing a point.

“These bloggers marshaled their legion of sock puppets to engage in intellectual combat with the sock puppets allegedly created by Raphael Golb and others,” the lawyers wrote.

XKV8R License Plate

XKV8R (excavator) is currently the California license plate for Dr. Robert Cargill's hybrid Toyota Prius

this statement contains multiple problems. first, where is the ‘legion of sock puppets’ about which golb’s attorney speaks? golb had over 80 aliases (‘alias’ defined as a pseudonym intended to mask the true identity of an author). we know the alias’ names. but to argue that golb was simply battling against other aliases is misleading. many on the internet have internet ‘user names‘, nicknames, or ‘handles’ (like old cb radio handles), but these are not intended to disguise identity. for instance one of my handles is bobcargill (all lower case, one word) – not really much of a disguise. all of the posts i make on this blog are done in the username of ‘bobcargill.’ my user name/handle on wikipedia is ‘xkv8r‘ (previously ‘israelxkv8r‘). again, this handle points to my wikipedia user page, which is complete with pictures and a full biography, making my identity easily known. additionally, the fact that xkv8r.com redirects to my bobcargill.com website, and serves as my california license plate number makes it quite clear exactly who i am.

however, this is not the case with raphael golb. on several occasions, golb vehemently protested discussion about his true identity on wikipedia, perhaps fearful that were his true identity to be made known, he would be the target of any number of civil lawsuits. likewise, raphael golb was always careful to not betray any privy knowledge of or communication with his father, norman golb, for were it ever shown that raphael golb was in direct communication with his father, it may pose the same potential problem for norman golb and his employer, the university of chicago. therefore, raphael golb went to a great lengths to conceal his identity. criminals usually don’t like it when victims know who is behind the mask. but, the rest of us on the internet are not concerned whether the public knows who we are. this is because we are not cowards, but are willing to stand behind the free speech we make.

there is another problem with this line of defense. sock puppets are unfortunately a reality on the internet. but, this does not make them appropriate or legal in certain contexts. for instance, wikipedia prohibits the use of sock puppets on their site. ironically, it was golb’s use of multiple sock puppets on wikipedia (‘critical_reader‘, ‘philip kirby,’ and ultimately ‘rachel.greenberg‘) that provided the final piece of evidence we needed to prove that all of the sock puppets were, in fact, tied to alias ‘charles gadda,’ and therefore to raphael golb. thus, sockpuppetry is not permitted on several of the forums in which raphael golb participated, and it was the reason golb was banished from wikipedia.

the use of aliases by raphael golb was not to promote free speech, but to disguise criminal activity!

======

another problem stems from the defense’s categorization of the crime. according to the associated press, golb’s lawyer, ronald kuby said:

“It’s usually very difficult to fit this into a (criminal) legal pigeonhole,”

the problem is: it’s not. again, golb is not being tried for the libel and defamation he spewed online against me and other scholars like risa levitt kohn, jodi magness, william schniedewind, stephen goranson, bart ehrman, david noel freedman, etc. those matters will be taken up in civil court after the conclusion of the criminal trial. golb is being tried for impersonation, identity theft, and aggravated harassment. the new york district attorney’s office rightly limited their charges to only those counts that specifically address criminal attempts to impersonate, harass, and steal the identity of lawrence schiffman, jonathan seidel, and stephen goranson. this means that the defense’s argument that

‘injury to a reputation is a civil matter, not a criminal violation’

is moot, because golb is not being charged for the civil crimes of defamation against me and others, rather, he’s being charged in the specific incidents of impersonation, aggravated harassment, and identity theft in the instance of schiffman, seidel, and goranson. while the defense attempts to blur the line between the civil matters and the criminal ones, the fact remains: it is not very difficult to ‘pigeonhole’ this criminal activity. raphael golb pretended to be lawrence schiffman in order to bring specific harm to him. in doing so, he impersonated him. impersonation is a crime. golb harassed schiffman in a most aggravated manner by writing a post using the alias ‘peter kaufman’ accusing dr. schiffman of plagiarizing his father, norman golb. (note: the nowpublic post by ‘peter kaufman’ has been removed by nowpublic, but that which raphael golb said about lawrence schiffman still exists in a cached web archive, and several blog posts, including this one, still remain online. coincidentally, golb used the alias ‘larryschiffman’ to post this blog.) aggravated harassment is a crime. raphael golb sent emails as lawrence schiffman, after signing up for email accounts and blog addresses in the name of lawrence schiffman. forgery is a crime. taking out an email address (lawrence.schiffman@gmail.com) and writing in the first person to confess to something and blogging in the name of lawrence schiffman is a crime. there is nothing ‘difficult’ about it.

======

golb’s lawyer argued:

the e-mail messages were transparent parodies, and that in any event, injury to a reputation is a civil matter, not a criminal violation.

this is simply not true. there is no expectation of parody or satire with raphael golb. in the case of known satirists like stephen colbert, or known parodists like saturday night live, there is an expectation of parody or satire. that is, it can be argued that this speech is protected under the first amendment right to freedom of speech. however, with the case of raphael golb, this is not the case. in fact, the opposite is true. raphael golb was not claiming parody, but was actively attempting to disguise his identity while making false, often harmful accusations against his father’s perceived opponents by hiding behind multiple aliases. at no point was there ever an expectation or acknowledgement of parody or satire. raphael golb attempted nothing less than to defame and professionally harm the careers of his father’s perceived rivals, and ultimately acted criminally by impersonating one of them, lawrence schiffman, in order to do so.

it is important to remember that the schiffman incident was not an isolated incident. rather, it was the criminal culmination of a pattern of behavior involving a well-organized, premeditated, campaign of deceit and influence that escalated from comments on message boards and discussion forums, comments on internet news items, nowpublic articles, blogs, infiltration of wikipedia pages, emails to a graduate student’s faculty questioning whether he should he should receive his degree, written letters to board members of museums, emails to journalists encouraging them to write about golb and the ‘qumran controversy,’ and ultimately the criminal impersonation of lawrence schiffman, which included forged letters to his graduate students and colleagues.

this was not parody. it was a one-sided assault on scholars that disagreed with norman golb and the museums that hosted dead sea scrolls exhibitions. his intent was to harm attendance at museum exhibitions and besmirch the reputations of people who had done nothing wrong other than disagree with norman golb’s minority opinions about qumran and the dead sea scrolls.

======

the defense has taken another odd tactic, which demonstrates a lack of faith in their ‘free speech’ defense. according to peltz’ associated press article:

Golb contests sending the e-mails. But whoever did send them was just pulling an “intellectual prank” and expressing ideas protected by free speech rights, said Golb’s lawyer, Ronald Kuby.

golb is attempting to invoke the right of ‘free speech’ while not admitting to making the said ‘speech.’ despite knowing exactly who was immediately responsible for the claims of the ‘charles gadda,’ ‘peter kaufman,’ and other aliases, raphael golb has still not admitted that he was actually the one who sent the emails in schiffman’s name. perhaps this is why golb’s lawyer is attempting to have the statements made by golb at the time of his arrest thrown out. perhaps this is why golb’s lawyer is contesting the search warrant and the search executed on raphael golb’s home: despite all evidence to the contrary (and his father, norman golb’s multiple purported statements essentially confessing that his son is ‘charles gadda’), raphael golb still does not want to admit to sending the emails.

golb’s lawyer, ron kuby, is attempting to invoke a ‘free speech’ defense without admitting to the speech. which begs the question: how confident is raphael golb’s laywer, ron kuby, in his own defense? one would think that if this really were an attempt to argue on behalf of free speech, mr. kuby would say, ‘yes, my client, raphael golb, made these claims, but he is protected by his right to free speech.’ instead, mr. kuby is attempting to argue, ‘this is a case of free speech, but my client does not admit to making the statements (sending the emails) in question.’ kuby undermines the confidence of his own defense by not admitting to his client’s participation in the so-called protected ‘free speech.’

======

ultimately, the central claim made by the defense is nothing more than a red herring (or to be technical in a rhetorical sense, an ignoratio elenchi). according to peltz’ associated press article, golb’s lawyer, ron kuby, stated:

“An attempt to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings authored under assumed names cannot be an object of criminal” laws designed to protect people from fraud, threats or physical harm, Kuby wrote in papers filed this week.

this is a red herring. of course, attempting ‘to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings’ is not criminal. this is what scholars do. and yes, attempting to influence a scholarly debate using arguments ‘authored under assumed names’ may or may not be ‘an object of criminal laws.’ however, this is not what raphael golb is accused of doing!! raphael golb is accused of intentionally posing as lawrence schiffman and admitting to something he did not do! raphael golb is accused of taking out email addresses in the name of lawrence schiffman and writing to schiffman’s students and colleagues in the first person. engaging in or attempting to influence a public, academic debate is not a crime, but, doing so using the names of known scholars, criminal impersonation, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and forgery certainly is.

raphael golb does not stand accused of attempting ‘to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings’. this, and harassment, libel, and defamation caused by his actions are indeed the subject of a civil court, and will be deal with accordingly once the criminal trial is complete.

conclusion

raphael golb’s actions in this criminal case were not an isolated incident, nor were they a prank, satire, parody, or other kind of joke. this was a premeditated, well-coordinated, well-planned, methodical, two-year campaign of defamation, intimidation, and harassment, ultimately ending in impersonation and forgery, perpetuated by raphael golb against those he felt were his father’s opponents. his intent was to harm museum attendance and denigrate the reputations of scholars that disagreed with norman golb.

likewise, arguments that raphael golb had to use pseudonyms in order to protect against academic backlash are unfounded. when rachel elior’s minority theory about qumran and the essenes became public, it was widely refuted, but she suffered no harm to her career or reputation by personally addressing criticism on the internet and in the press. she simply participated in the academic process. this differs greatly from what appears to be golb’s approach, which apparently involved raphael doing the dirty work of attacking his father’s rivals, and norman golb siting back in his endowed chair at the prestigious university of chicago oriental institute, seemingly above the fray, and answering inquiries from media outlets most likely drummed up by his son, raphael.

it appears the entire campaign was designed to denigrate norman golb’s rivals, and keep golb’s name – and his theory – in the news. raphael golb went too far, and broke the law.

this is not about free speech, it’s about getting caught breaking the law.

on the success of the toronto rom dead sea scrolls exhibit

4Q271_Damascus_Doc-b

4Q271 - A fragment of the Damascus Document

the jewish tribune is reporting that the dead sea scrolls exhibition in toronto is doing quite well. i wish i could say as much for the jewish tribune, who not only misspelled two of the three names of exhibit curator risa levitt kohn (they said ‘Resa Levitt Cohen‘), but also underrepresented the number of visitors to the museum by, oh, about 200,000 people.

Since the June 27 opening of the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, more than 160,000 visitors have gone to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) to view the display, which is “about ideas and values as much as artifacts and ideology,” said William Thorsell, the ROM’s CEO.

the problem is (and it is a good problem to have) that the attendance is much closer to 400,000 than the 160,00 that the jewish tribune reported. the attendance is even more impressive in the light of the numerous attempts by anti-israel and pro-palestinian protest groups to drive visitors away from the museum.

congratulations to the royal ontario museum in toronto on a successful exhibition. many congratulations to curator risa levitt kohn on her patience and persistence in bringing not one, but two successful dead sea scrolls exhibitions to north america (despite the nonsense ;-).

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