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Thursday, December 22, 2005

 

Kamal Boulatta: 'Gannit Ankori Plagiarized From Hard Won Research'

I was taken in. The story regarding Gannit Ankori's book on the History of Palestinian art and interview appeared here in Al-Jazeera, and I excerpted from it here, with the title, 'Gannit Ankori, An Israeli Who Gets It.' Well, evidently, Ankori doesn't get it. This is Kamal Boulatta's response:


December 16, 2004


To Al-Jazeera Website


"Book Records Palestinian Art History" by Ismail Elmokadem


Dear Mr. Elmokadem,


I just learnt from a friend about your interview on al-Jazeera website with Israeli "art historian" Gannit Ankori who is publishing a book on Palestinian art. I am sure she did not mention to you that the core of her thesis on the history of Palestinian art (the initial 3 chapters in her book) has been plagiarized from hard-won research I conducted and published over the last 35 years. Some of these writings appeared in Arabic and in Hebrew translations as well as in a wide range of exhibition catalogs in French and English and in periodicals including the Journal of Palestine Studies and in the Encyclopedia of the Palestinians.


Having been one of those artists she interviewed for her book, I insisted that she sends me her page proofs to review before she goes to press. After reading the chapters she sent and realized the extent of her piracy, I wrote to her and to her London publisher and included an 11-page report that specifies in some detail the means Ankori employed to pass off her thesis, arguments and whole passages of paraphrased text as if they were the result of her own pioneering and personal research. I have also included to her publisher all the reprints of my original text from which she expropriated her text and I highlighted all relevant sections in both documents to facilitate the examination and comparison of both texts.


As a result, her publisher who had announced that the book was scheduled to appear last October postponed the book's publication to March 2006. During this period the publisher promised me that Ankori would redress the serious issues I raised but never provided me with any guarantees or further clarifications as to how these issues would be addressed.


It is sad to see that al-Jazeera website would rush to publish something about an Israeli who had appropriated her thesis on the history of Palestinian art without even checking or posing any question regarding the cultural and political ramifications of this matter. As you well know, in any civilized society that follows a code of ethics the way al-Jazeera does, the appropriation of intellectual property in the academic field is equivalent to the appropriation of land and territory in the world of power and political domination. The audacity by which Gannit Ankori appropriated her information and called it her own follows the very same pattern that one can trace throughout the history of Israeli culture.


Having said that, I hope you would consider updating your story with a more objective view that allows your readers to see for themselves the makings of that book on Palestinian art by an Israeli woman. I am sure you agree with me that al-Jazeera's audience deserves at least to hear the two sides of a story. If you send me your email address I will be glad to provide you with an attachment containing the 11-page report that covers this whole matter in more detail.


After you read the documented material I send, I will be glad to send you any other you may need as I will be glad to answer any question you may have regarding this matter.


Looking forward to hear from you.


Kamal Boullata

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