Student 'fabricated' quotes

August 3, 2001

An internal committee at Haifa University has found that a masters thesis presented by Teddy Katz contained fabricated quotes purporting to come from veterans involved in an incident at the village of Tantura in 1948 in which hundreds of Arabs died.

When some of the veterans sued for libel and Mr Katz took back some of his statements, the university was forced to re-read the work. Amatzia Bar-Am, head of the Jewish-Arab Centre at the university and a member of the committee appointed to investigate, said: "We looked at a sample of the dissertation. Each one of us took three or four interviewees. We looked at 28 per cent of all cases in which massacre or mass murder were mentioned. We were dealing with only one chapter - "Tantura". We can say nothing about whether there were mass murders or whether the rest of the work was good or bad.

"Mr Katz sometimes quoted people as saying things they did not say. One source is his cassettes; the other source is his notes. There are cases where the recording and notes are the same, but the dissertation says something else. The way he poured the interviews into the thesis was wrong. When someone is saying something in an interview, you can paraphrase. If you choose to quote, you have to do it word for word."

Mr Katz, the subject of whose MA work on The Exodus of the Arabs from Villages at the Southern Foothills of the Carmel in 1948 was approved by Haifa's department of Middle East history, interviewed 135 people from five villages, including 60 people from the village of Tantura.

He had until the end of last month to respond to the report, which details problems with 11 out of 53 sections of his dissertation. A final decision will be taken in the autumn. "I have proof of massacres in Tantura," Mr Katz said. "Is it not possible in Israel of 2001 to do free research about that most formative war?"

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