on false accusations of anti-semitism in the academy

My daughter, Talitha, at the Temple Etz Chaim kindergarten Hanukkah celebration.

My daughter, Talitha, at the Temple Etz Chaim kindergarten Hanukkah celebration.

bible and interpretation has published my most recent essay on the inappropriate use of accusations of anti-semitism as a weapon against scholars in the field of jewish studies. specifically, the essay is, in part, a response to recent motions to dismiss the charges and suppress evidence collected in the criminal case against raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, that is currently working its way through the ny court system, as well as to a feb 26, 2009 essay by golb’s alias ‘charles gadda’ entitled ‘antisemitism and the dead sea scrolls’ that was posted on a nowpublic.com website that has since been removed by nowpublic.

i encourage you to read the article and take seriously false charges of anti-semitism, or any form of discrimination. while racism and discrimination are a very real problems in the world, the terms ‘racist’ and anti-semite’ are too often tossed about inappropriately and without due accountability in an effort to paint one’s political or academic opponent in a negative light. i conclude that we should use discretion and caution when labeling others as racist or anti-semitic, and that we should treat those that flagrantly misuse and abuse the term in a similar manner to which we treat those that engage in actual racist or discriminatory behavior.

words mean things, and scholars should exercise the same non-sensationalist, guarded restraint in labeling others that we use in discussing our academic subject matter.

top 10 strangest cases of identity theft

Raphael and Norman Golb

Raphael and Norman Golb

an article on listverse, a site that blogs every imaginable top ten list, has put together a top ten ‘bizarre cases of identity theft.’ according to the article:

Identity theft is not a new problem, and like any crime, there are always some cases that make you scratch your head in astonishment, and ask the obvious questions: “Why would someone even try this? How did they think they were going to get away with it?” And sometimes simply, “What the heck?”

the top ten were:

  • 10. the cheerleader (a 33-year-old woman stole her daughter’s identity to attend high school and join the cheerleading squad)
  • 9. todd davis (the ceo of an identity theft protection company that used his own social security number in adverts, a number that was then used to gain loans and cash by thieves)
  • 8. neighbors from hell (a couple that moved into a tight-knit neighborhood and stole identity information to use in petty crimes)
  • 7. ivy league impostor (a high school senior used the identity of a missing woman from south carolina to apply to, enroll in, and take classes at harvard)
  • 6. dr. no (a doctor that did not attend medical school stole the identities of several doctors to establish a medical practice)
  • 5. dead sea scrolls (the case of raphael golb, son of university of chicago historian norman golb, and his criminal impersonation of nyu professor larry schiffman to promote his father and defame schiffman)
  • 4. you’re how old? (a woman in the czech republic who stole the identities of several 13-year-old children and enrolled in schools as them)
  • 3. brooklyn busboy (a busboy used the internet to obtain access to the private finances of hundreds the richest people in america)
  • 2. stealing from himself (a man fakes his own death in an attempt to avoid credit card debt, and who was caught attempting to use his own identity to get a new driver’s license)
  • 1. catch him if you can (the subject of the 2002 movie, ‘catch me if you can,’ frank abagnale eluded authorities by posing as an airline pilot, doctor, assistant attorney general, and history professor)

i was glad to see the golbs make the list. it is one of the stranger things to happen in scholarship in a while.

new online legal tool helps you track criminal cases



as a scholar in the digital humanities, i try my best to keep readers informed about the newest technologies available to the public. i am especially attentive when the technology is readily available online, and even more so excited when it is free. so i was delighted to discover a new service readily available to the public domain offered by the new york state unified court system. their new software, ecourts, provides a free service called webcrims, which allows an internet reader to view new york state criminal proceedings of interest to the online reader. after entering a simple captcha spam guard, this service allows the reader to search for cases in the new york criminal justice system, read a summary of a pending case, including the defendant’s name, a record of the offending incident(s) and arrest, attorney information, next scheduled appearance, and sentencing information. the reader can also view a history of appearances in the court system, which provides details like whether or not a temporary order of protection has been issued in the case. perhaps most impressively, the reader can read a laundry list of charges brought by the people of new york against the accused. you can even subscribe to receive criminal case alerts using the etrack email alert system to make sure you don’t miss any of the proceedings in your favorite case.

all this technology is brought to you free of charge in the public domain by the good people of the state of new york, so give it a try.

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