jewish journal puts face on victims of anonymous crime

Archaeologist Robert Cargill examines a full-scale facsimile of the 2000-year-old-plus Isaiah Scroll at Jerusalem’s Shrine of the Book. Photo by CTVC Ltd

Archaeologist Robert Cargill examines a full-scale facsimile of the 2000-year-old-plus Isaiah Scroll at Jerusalem’s Shrine of the Book. Photo by CTVC Ltd

In an article entitled, “Slander, Lies and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” author Tom Tugend interviewed me attempting to put a face on the victims of anonymous crimes. It’s worth a read if you haven’t already done so.

trying to dig oneself out of a hole: raphael golb posts his appeal online

Raphael Golb is handcuffed and led from a Manhattan State Supreme courtroom in New York to prison after being sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation. Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was convicted on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer. Photo: Steven Hirsch

Raphael Golb is handcuffed and led from a Manhattan State Supreme courtroom in New York to prison after being sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation. Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was convicted on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer. Photo: Steven Hirsch

There’s an old saying: “When you dig yourself into a hole, put down the shovel.”

Apparently, no one ever taught this to Raphael Golb, whose latest attempt to garner sympathy from the paranoid, the friendless, and those involved in similar ordeals is now available online.

And good news: this latest volley from Dr. Golb seems to be having the desired effect. For instance, the “Overturn the Wrongful Conviction of Raphael Golb” group on Facebook has seen its membership rise significantly from 15 to 16 over the past month. Given that at least one of those “members” is a marketing bot, I’d say that it won’t be long until the Raphael Golb Facebook group has as many fans as “The Great Kim Jong-Il” group (4377) or the “Sarah Palin for President 2012” group (92). Even ol’ Jimmy Barfield’s “Copper Scroll Project” has more supporters with 394.

Yes, Dr. Golb is back, and this time per the requirements of his sentencing and bail writing in his own name! Remarkably, Dr. Golb has essentially posted his conviction appeal online. I’m guessing the State of New York thanks him for the additional time to prepare its response. I mean seriously, didn’t Dr. Golb learn anything from the trial? He hung his lawyers out to dry by posting every possible angle of every possible line of their questioning online several months before the trial actually began! Every witness knew exactly what Golb’s attorneys were going to ask because the verbally-incontinent Golb had already posted it online months before. So thanks again for the advance notice.

(Unless, of course, Golb is using the same tactic he used during the trial, where he knew he would be found guilty 30 times, but decided to use the trial to attack his victims further, and decided to attempt to try his case in the blogosphere. The only problem is, I don’t think Dr. Golb’s most recent posting on the indymedia.org website qualifies as “protected speech.” I’m assuming he didn’t make any false claims in his indymedia post…)

For those of you who don’t want to waste the time reading Dr. Golb’s rant appeal, let me summarize it for you. I’ve listed who Raphael Golb thinks is responsible for his arrest and conviction in the table below:

People whose fault it is:

(in order of appearance)

People whose fault it is not:

  • Dead Sea scrolls “guild” or “monopoly”
  • “traditionalists”
  • “creators of museum exhibits”
  • a fake “consensus”
  • “defenders of the sectarian position”
  • “abuse of power and of financial influence” by scholars and academic institutions
  • “evangelical Christian educational institutions”
  • “orthodox Jews” who shared their basic perspective
  • Robert Cargill
  • museums
  • “religiously oriented scholars”
  • Larry Schiffman
  • NYU officials
  • Assistant District Attorney John Bandler
  • Patrick McKenna, an investigating officer assigned to the New York Country D.A.’s identity theft unit
  • New York Criminal Court Judge Carol Berkman
  • “acute stress reaction”
  • agreeing “to be interrogated without an attorney”
  • “sly” interrogation techniques
  • District Attorney Robert Morgenthau
  • New York court system and “rules”
  • jury selection process
  • failure of judge “to explain to the jurors that my case was the first of its kind”
  • prevention of Golb’s attorneys “from engaging in significant cross-examination of witnesses”
  • “Judge Berkman instructed the jury to find me guilty”
  • New York Jewish Museum
  • Salem witch trial
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy
  • Stephen Goranson
  • Duke University provost
  • UCLA faculty members
  • Risa Levitt Kohn
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • “coincidences” like despite claiming not to have known of “Johnathan Seidel,” a rabbi in Oregon named Jonathan Seidel coincidentally graduated from Golb’s alma mater, Oberlin College, and coincidentally was introduced to Norman Golb in England in 1986, and coincidentally discussed things over a coffee with him.
  • jurors’ sheer fatigue
  • ill equipped jurors
  • academic “gatekeepers”
  • getting “carried away in the midst of a heated campaign of criticism which I [Golb] directed against a group of scholars
  • duplicitous museum exhibits
  • NYU
  • Raphael Golb

As you can see, just like his father and his theories, Golb argues that the reason neither is accepted by the academy is not because of problems with the theory or its proponent, but because of a massive conspiracy involving just about everyone else in the field. Raphael Golb’s appeal argues that his conviction was not the result of his own illegal activities, but the result of a grand conspiracy, and everyone else is to blame.

Conspiracy theories. Blaming others. Not taking responsibility for actions. Victim mentality. It seems like it never ends…

golb gets 6 months in jail, 5 years probation

Raphael Golb is handcuffed and led from the courtroom to prison after being sentenced to 6 months in jail for 30 counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer.

Raphael Golb is handcuffed and led from a Manhattan State Supreme courtroom in New York to prison after being sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation. Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was convicted on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer. Photo: Steven Hirsch

Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, has been sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation after being found guilty on September 30, 2010 of 2 felony and 28 misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer.

Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb.

Raphael Golb. Photo: Steven Hirsch

The charges stem from a bizarre case where Dr. Golb used an army of internet aliases to falsely charge his father’s perceived rival, NYU Judaic Studies professor Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, with plagiarism, and then criminally impersonated Dr. Schiffman by opening an email account in Schiffman’s name, emailing Schiffman’s students and colleagues, and “admitting” to the “plagiarism” on Schiffman’s behalf.

Before the trial, Golb turned down a plea deal where he would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, paid a fine, and received two years probation. With guilty verdicts including two felony counts, Dr. Golb not only faces jail time and 5 years probation, but also faces the additional consequence of being disbarred from the New York Bar Association.

David K. Li / NY Post (Nov. 18)
David K. Li / NY Post (Nov. 19)
Jennifer Peltz / AP (Nov. 18)
Melissa Grace / NY Daily News (Nov. 18)
Paige Chapman / Chronicle of Higher Education (Nov. 18)
John Eligon / NY Times (Nov. 18)

 


For the record, I’ll make the following statement:

 

“I am satisfied with the verdict and the sentence in the case of the People of New York vs. Raphael Golb. The sentence fits the crime. During the trial, Dr. Golb showed no remorse, never apologized for his actions, believed what he did wasn’t wrong, and stated flatly that he’d do it again. The disingenuous apology he did finally offer epitomized his defiance:

“I’m sorry for all the wounding of feelings that my e-mail antics have caused…Before this case, I did not know that satirical hoaxes of the sort were treated as crimes in the United States of America.”

He abused the protected speech afforded him by the criminal trial process to attack his victims further, escalating his absurd and false accusations against his victims with the knowledge he could not be sued in civil court. He knew he was guilty, but decided to take as many people as he could down with him. He misused the criminal proceedings against him in attempt to put a leading scholar in the field and a good man, Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, on trial for something he did not do. Because Dr. Golb wasted the people of New York’s time and money in a trial he used as little more than a soapbox for his father’s dismissed scholarly views and a weapon to attack his victims further, I believe the sentence is appropriate.

I am thankful to Assistant District Attorney Bandler and his staff for their hard work in this case. I am thankful to Judge Berkman, who presided over a fair and impartial courtroom. I am pleased that the criminal justice system worked, and that justice was ultimately done. Most of all, I am thankful to my UCLA colleagues and especially NELC Department Chairs, Dr. William Schniedewind and Dr. Elizabeth Carter, and Humanities Division Dean, Dr. Tim Stowell, for their support throughout this entire ordeal. I am also grateful for my wife, Roslyn, and daughter, Talitha, for the love and support they’ve shown me throughout this case.

Please do not mistake my reaction to the verdict and sentence in this case as a happy one. I am not happy about this entire ordeal. No one wins in a situation like this. This is nothing but a tragedy, where academic pride and malice were unleashed in a well-coordinated effort on the internet with the deliberate intent of harming the reputations of other scholars.

If there is one lesson to be learned from this case, it is that there is no such thing as anonymity on the internet. Scholars must be willing to stand behind any statements they make in their own name or else not make them at all. While anonymity has been used in the past to make unpopular and dissenting speech, and while this right of free speech should be protected under the law, what Dr. Golb did – using anonymity as a weapon to attack good scholars via criminal impersonation, forgery, identity theft, and for aggravated harassment against others – is shameful. It is a violation of the law and dishonors the memories of those who have fought and died for the freedom we call “free speech.”

It is a sad reality that Raphael Golb set out in an attempt to rewrite the legacy of his father, University of Chicago historian Dr. Norman Golb. But, because he employed deceitful, unprofessional, and illegal methods to do so, he has ultimately tarnished his father’s legacy perhaps beyond repair. And, because evidence from the trial proceedings demonstrated that Dr. Norman Golb not only knew about, but appears to have participated in some of his son’s scorched earth campaign of defamation against other scholars, perhaps this disgraced legacy is not wholly unwarranted. This is perhaps the worst sentence of all.

I am satisfied with the outcome. I have moved on. However, because Dr. Golb has vowed to appeal, and thereby prolong this case, I unfortunately believe this is not the end, but rather only the latest, never-ending chapter in the continued legacy of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.

 


 

Raphael Golb "apologizing" from a prepared statement, which included the recitation of several definitions of 'sarcasm,' 'satire,' and 'irony.' Photo by Hermann for News.

Raphael Golb "apologizing" from a prepared statement, which included the recitation of several definitions of "sarcasm," "satire," and "irony," for the judge. Photo: Hermann for News.

robert cargill in ucla news week

Dr. Robert R. Cargill is interviewed for UCLA News Week about the Raphael Golb criminal case.

Dr. Robert R. Cargill is interviewed for UCLA News Week about the Raphael Golb criminal case.

I was interviewed for the UCLA News Week recently and asked to comment on the sentencing of Raphael Golb, which will take place Thursday, November 18, 2010. On September 30, 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 multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer. The charges stem from a bizarre case where Dr. Golb used an army of internet aliases to falsely charge his father’s perceived rival, NYU Judaic Studies professor Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, with plagiarism, and then criminally impersonated Dr. Schiffman by opening an email account in Schiffman’s name, emailing Schiffman’s students and colleagues, and admitting to the “plagiarism” on Schiffman’s behalf.

The UCLA News story is here. The YouTube segment is here:

DR. GOLB FOUND GUILTY! – New York Criminal Court Finds Golb Guilty of Multiple Counts of Identity Theft, Forgery, Criminal Impersonation, Aggravated Harassment


“This refers to the Spouter of Lies (מטיף הכזב), who deceived many…

1QpHab 10:9
(Pesher Habakkuk is a Dead Sea Scroll from Qumran Cave 1)


 

Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was found guilty on 51 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.

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.

The Criminal Division of the New York Supreme Court has found Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, GUILTY of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer. The charges stem from a bizarre case where Dr. Golb used an army of internet aliases to falsely charge his father’s perceived rival, NYU Judaic Studies professor Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, with plagiarism, and then criminally impersonated Dr. Schiffman by opening an email account in Schiffman’s name, emailing Schiffman’s students and colleagues, and admitting to the “plagiarism” on Schiffman’s behalf. Dr. Golb was also charged with criminally impersonating and/or assuming the identity of Dr. Frank Moore Cross, Dr. Jonathan Seidel, Dr. Jeffrey Gibson, Dr. Stephen Goranson; the aggravated harassment of Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, Dr. Stephen Goranson, and Dr. Robert Cargill; and of the unauthorized use of a NYU computer.

The 12-person jury of Dr. Golb’s peers wasted little time in finding him guilty on multiple counts.

So much for the “it may not be very nice, but it’s not illegal” defense. It’s illegal too!

Dr. Golb admitted under cross-examination that he lied to police during his initial arrest interview, and that he had indeed created all of the emails he sent to NYU and UCLA faculty and administrators.

Dr. Golb’s defense attorneys, Ron Kuby (who is notable enough to have a Wikipedia page ;-) and David Breitbart, attempted to argue that Dr. Golb’s criminal impersonation, identity theft, and forgery were protected under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free speech. The jury apparently was not impressed with the defense’s attempt to use protected speech afforded it by the criminal justice process (witnesses cannot sue the defense for libelous, defamatory, and/or false claims made during the trial) to attack Dr. Golb’s victims further. Despite attempting to turn the trial into a referendum on Dr. Golb’s views about the Dead Sea Scrolls, attempting to put Dr. Schiffman on trial for plagiarism he did not commit, or using a parody/satire/I was just kidding/it was all a joke defense, the jury saw through defense tactics and found Dr. Golb guilty.

The convicted felon Golb will be sentenced November 18. Prior to the trial, the defendant turned down a plea agreement where he would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges, paid a fine, and would be placed on probation for two years. Golb rejected the deal because probation would have prevented him from using aliases to battleblog against others online. Perhaps this explains defense attorney David Breitbart’s comment:

“He had to go to trial in this case in order to accomplish his goal.”

This sentiment betrays Dr. Golb’s entire motive both for his smear campaign and for not settling the case: he knew he was guilty, he knew what he was doing was wrong, he knew he was going down, so he tried to take Dr. Schiffman with him. He tried to put Dr. Schiffman on trial for something he didn’t do.

It is worth noting that the father of the convicted felon, Dr. Norman Golb, has been shown in publicly available court documents (here and here) to not only have known about his son’s smear campaign, but to have actively participated in some of the activities that led to his son’s arrest and conviction. Yet, Dr. Norman Golb did not testify in his son’s defense; he did not even attend the trial.

Perhaps the Dead Sea Scrolls really are cursed…

A few questions remain:

  • Will Dr. Golb appeal the decision?
  • Will Dr. Golb be automatically disbarred from the New York State Bar, or will there be disbarment proceedings?
  • Will the University of Chicago formally apologize to the victims of crimes committed by relatives and employees of the Oriental Institute now that the court has shown that a University employee (Dr. Norman Golb) had full knowledge of and participated in some of these criminal activities?

As for my role in this case, I shall continue to monitor the situation and shine a light on all those who attempt to use devious means to harm good scholars. I shall continue to update this case at who-is-charles-gadda.com.


“For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel,
and before the sun.”

2 Samuel 12:12

to trial we go: golb formally refuses plea bargain

Raphael Golb rejects no-jail plea offer in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday.

Raphael Golb rejects no-jail plea offer in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday. Photo by Siegel for News.

laura italiano of the ny post is reporting that plea bargain negotiations between the ny district attorney’s office and a lawyer for raphael golb have broken off without agreement. melissa grace has the story at the new york daily news:

That means the case against Raphael Golb, a real-estate lawyer turned amateur religious scholar, is headed to trial in September.

the case is scheduled for trial beginning september 13, 2010.

Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, is accused of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, unauthorized use of a computer, and aggravated harassment by the state of New York. Plea  bargain negotiations broke down today. The trial is scheduled for September 13, 2010.

Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, is accused of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, unauthorized use of a computer, and aggravated harassment by the state of New York. Plea bargain negotiations broke down today. The trial is scheduled for September 13, 2010. Photo by Steven Hirsch.

according to sources:

They offered the son 80 hours of community service if he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors – and the judge said three years probation would have to be a condition.

Golb turned it down because probation would bar him from contacting his victims – including posting on blogs where the scrolls’ origins are debated.

golb is the son of university of chicago oriental institute historian dr. norman golb. golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, unauthorized use of a computer, and aggravated harassment by the state of new york as a result of golb’s involvement with an extensive campaign to smear the perceived rivals of his father. a detailed history and evolution of golb’s campaign against dead sea scrolls scholars, grad students, museums, and universities is chronicled at the who is charles gadda website.

here we go…


for background:

qumran quote of the day: roland de vaux on the origin of the ‘jerusalem origin’ theory

Roland de Vaux

Roland de Vaux

We have been dealing so far with the question of how the manuscripts came to be collected in the Qumran caves, the character of the collection itself, its undoubted antiquity, and finally the connection between the caves and the buildings. Attempts have been made, however, to explain these points by a different hypothesis, one that does not envisage a special religious community established in the area. According to K. H. Rengstorf, the documents have nothing to do either with the Essenes or with any other sect. They comprise part of the library of the temple at Jerusalem which was stored in a safe place at the time of the Jewish Revolt…The presentation of this theory, which is personal to Rengstorf himself, is preceded by a critique of the ‘Essene’ theory in the form in which it has often been presented, and the author rightly emphasizes the weakness or ambiguity of certain lines of argument. But his own explanation entails great difficulties. – Roland de Vaux, 1959

(from de Vaux, Roland, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Schweich Lectures 1959, rev. ed.,  (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 105-6.)


question for review: who first proposed a theory stating that the dead sea scrolls had nothing to do with qumran, but were part of a library that came from jerusalem?


in related news, the son of norman golb has accused a nyu scholar of plagiarizing the thoughts and ideas of norman golb and passing them off as his own. golb’s son, raphael, has since been arrested.

have a nice day.

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.)

email etiquette: tips on email use

the following is a set of practical guidelines for anyone who uses email in the course of their work in higher education. a good email citizen sends emails that are effective and collegial in terms of content, and is cognizant of the differences between emails with a single recipient and those with multiple recipients. in this age of spam, email overload, and privacy concerns, it is just as important to know how to address your messages as it is what to say, as well as what not to say and reserve for means other than email.

most universities have standard email policies. for example, ucla’s email policies can be found here:

uc policy link (http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/policies/ec/)
ucla policy link (http://www.adminpolicies.ucla.edu/app/Default.aspx?&id=455)

as a good email citizen, you will want to use proper ‘netiquette’ and know how to send emails that convey only essential content to appropriate recipients. here’s how:

tips about email content

  1. don’t complain via email.
    1. the commonality of email has pushed traditional letter writing on paper to an elevated status. because one is more likely to complain via email, letters of complaint written on stationary and signed by hand are inevitably treated with greater importance.
    2. customer service managers regularly state that a signed letter of complaint is worth 100 phone calls. anyone can make a phone call in the heat of frustration, but those who take the time to articulate thoughtfully their complaints in a professional manner are taken far more seriously. because emails are considered less formal than written letters, they tend to be treated more like phone calls. therefore, do not complain via email, but rather use email to communicate information and send quick reminders to colleagues when appropriate.
  2. don’t compose lengthy emails in your email client.
    1. never compose a document in a client that you cannot regularly save. email clients are notorious for disappearing and lost content during composition. unlike many word processing apps that automatically save content while it is being composed, email clients often crash, messages are accidentally closed, or worse yet, the messages are accidentally sent without the message being complete, leaving the sender looking like he or she is not capable of sending a proper letter.
    2. for emails of some length, or that require more thought than is involved in simple communication, it is better to compose the email in a word processer, which possesses spell check, auto save, and a full array of formatting options, and then cutting and pasting the message in to an email for sending.
    3. this process prevents what many techies call premature e-jaculation, that is, the premature sending of emails before they are complete and proofread.
  3. don’t write too much in an email.
    1. no one likes to open an email and see an essay. when most employees see a lengthy email, they immediately skip to the next, smaller, manageable email and respond accordingly. employees tend to put off lengthy emails until last, meaning the lengthier your email, the lower priority it receives.
    2. reserve email for concise information. ask and answer questions briefly and to the point. don’t be reluctant to send a one-line email. if your question requires a lengthy email, think about making a phone call. it will save you time and will receive more attention from the recipient than a lengthy email. make full use of bold facing and colors to highlight the important items in your email, but AVOID USING ALL CAPS, which people tend to interpret as screaming.
      • (you can always use no caps at all when writing electronically; it’s hip, distinctive, very relaxed and informal (which is popular on the west coast among those who distinguish between formal academic writing, personal electronic correspondence, and blogs), makes up for german capitalizing every single noun, is a tribute to early internet programming pioneers who didn’t use caps (check your url and your email address), and saves you the effort of having to reach all the way over to the shift key every sentence.)
    3. remember: you are competing for the recipient’s attention in a full inbox. shorter is sweeter when emailing.
  4. think before sending.
    1. many have heard of ‘drunk dialing’ – the practice of making a phone call to another individual that under normal circumstances (and usually much sober, next-day reflection) should not have been made. the same is true for email.
    2. you don’t have to send every email you write. often, the mere process of articulating your feelings through words written in a letter is all the release one needs to vent frustration. wait a half hour and re-read your email. is that really what you want to say? will this email be used against you down the road? in court? if the email is still worthy of sending after some sober reflection, send away.

tips about how to address your email

  1. don’t address the email until the very end.
    1. anyone who has accidentally sent an email before it is complete has experienced the frustration of having to email the original recipient yet again, apologizing for looking like a luddite or worse yet, a dumbass, before once again emailing with the original intended email.
    2. to guard against this, try not addressing the email until the email is proofread and ready to send. perhaps cut-and-paste the intended email address in the body of the letter at the top. this way, should you accidentally click ‘send’ or type a combination of keys that sends the email, the email will not be sent, but will return an error asking for a destination email address. this simple trick can save you much potential embarrassment.
  2. learn to use the bcc feature.
    1. the blind carbon copy, or ‘bcc’ feature is not just for tattling on your coworkers by secretly showing your email to a colleague. the bcc feature can be very handy when sending distribution emails to a large number of people.
    2. the bcc feature allows you to send the same email to multiple recipients, but each recipient only sees their address in the ‘to’ field and cannot see the other recipients’ addresses.
    3. it is important to write emails that are to be sent to bcc recipients in a generic manner so that each recipient assumes the email is written to him or her specifically (that is, unless you want the letter to appear as a form letter intended for many people. features include addressing the email with ‘all,’ or ‘dear applicant.’)
    4. a few years ago, a department search committee chairperson at a university that shall remain unnamed sent rejection letters via email. but, rather than loading the 125 rejected recipients’ email addresses into the bcc field, the chairperson listed them all in the cc field, meaning every recipient could see the emails of the other rejected candidates. remembering to use the bcc field is a discreet way to send one email to many people.
  3. use distribution lists
    1. most universities make extensive use of dedicated distribution lists, which allow an employee to join a list and receive emails from an authorized sender on a specific topic. the benefit is that the ‘from’ field clearly states the sender’s distribution list, which can be filtered or read based upon the desire to follow messages from the sender. one additional benefit is that the recipient’s email address in not lumped into a massive list of email addresses in the ‘to’ or ‘cc’ field, meaning other recipients cannot see your email address and instantly be reminded, say, that you owe them money of a reply to an earlier email.

one last thing

  1. anonymous emailing
    1. dont email anonymously. ever! first, it’s cowardly. second, there is no such thing as anonymity online! if someone wants to, and has the patience and the resources, one can find out who you are and what you’re doing.
    2. never, ever, ever, ever take out an email address in someone else’s name, pretend to be them, and confess to made up crimes the person didn’t commit. if you do, you could end up under arrest and on trial in new york for identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and unauthorized use of a computer.

these email tips will help you be an effective emailer. you will communicate your message more effectively, and will do so with a professional etiquette. and you’ll stay out of jail.


(a simplified version of the above is located at the ucla center for digital humanities (cdh) blog here.)

man swallows flash drive in attempt to destroy evidence

shredding is so 2009. now there’s a new way to dispose of your private, potentially incriminating information: swallow it.

that’s precisely what one man did shortly after his arrest for bank fraud. according to police reports, florin necula swallowed a kingston flash drive.

In a bold and bizarre attempt to destroy evidence seized during a federal raid, a New York City man grabbed a flash drive and swallowed the data storage device while in the custody of Secret Service agents, records show. Florin Necula ingested the Kingston flash drive shortly after his January 21 arrest outside a bank in Queens, according to U.S. District Court filings. Necula and several codefendants had been transported to a Secret Service office in Brooklyn, where they were to be questioned and processed. While there, and in the view of investigators, Necula “grabbed Subject Flash Drive 2, which had been on his person at the time of his arrest, and swallowed.”

according to the reports, the suspect later:

agreed to allow doctors at New York Downtown Hospital to remove the item

sure. he ‘agreed.’ either port 80 of his outbound server was clogged, or he was enticed to allow a doctor assist him with dropping a digital deuce. but only after 4 days. ewww. i spilled coffee on a flash drive once, but i’ve never soaked one in hydrochloric acid (the stuff in your stomach) and poo for 4 days. i wonder who at csi gets to process that evidence (if there’s any evidence left to process after the suspect’s ‘processing’ of the data)?


n.b.  i’m imagining raphael choking down hard drives and notepads with aliases and passwords on it as the nypd is searching his apartment. in hindsight, it would have probably been better than letting the ny da’s office get into his emails. then again, digestion probably wouldn’t have helped in raphael’s case. what he was writing was already crap on the way in.

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