I haven't followed the acrimonious debate surrounding Norman Finkelstein's denied tenure application (The Times provides background here and here) and I'm, this late in the game, loath to offer an opinion. But after watching this debate between the Holocaust Industry author and Alan Dershowitz, I have come to the slightly heterodox conclusion that Depaul University's decision was based on one practical factor: Finkelstein is a bit nuts (Skip about 16.45 in):
Dan Drezner weighs in on the controversy, noting that "Finkelstein has been in the field for twenty years and apparently has never published a single peer-reviewed article" but, nevertheless, he finds the decision "really, really troubling to those of us who like academic freedom." University of Chicago historian Peter Novick called Finkelstein's Holocaust Industry a "a twenty-first century updating of 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,'" but insists that Dershowitz should butt-out of tenure proceedings.
In his case against tenure, Dershowitz persuasively argues that Finkelstein holds some pretty wacky views. For instance:
NBC, he says, broadcast Holocaust to strengthen Israel's position: "In 1978, NBC produced the series Holocaust. Do you believe, it was a coincidence, 1978? Just at this time, when peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt took place in Camp David?"
He argues that Leon Uris, the author of Exodus, named his character "Ari" in order to promote Israel's "Nazi" ideology: "Because Ari is the diminutive for Aryan. It is the whole admiration for this blond haired, blue eyed type." (Ari is a traditional name dating back to the Bible.)
Well, ok. But if holding fatuous conspiracy theories is grounds for tenure denial, my alma mater should have been denuded of faculty long ago.
Bonus link: The ever-accurate Iranian state television channel headlines its Finkelstein story "Academic Sacked over Holocaust."