France’s Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim acknowledged that he plagiarized several parts of his latest book. Bernheim said Tuesday in a statement that parts of the 2011 book “Forty Jewish Meditations” were taken from other sources.
Even more disturbing may be that when confronted with his plagiarism, he lied about what he did — and smeared a dead man in doing so.
The affair started in early March when the Strass de la Philosophie blog revealed that a passage on hasidic exegesis from Bernheim’s work was almost identical to an interview of the philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard that appears in the 1996 book “Questioning Judaism” by Elisabeth Weber.
Soon after the disclosure, Bernheim said some of the meditations in his book were transcripts of lessons he gave in the 1980s while he was a chaplain for French Jewish students. He said the lessons were often recorded and that copies of his personal notes were distributed to the listeners, implying that Lyotard, who died in 1998, plagiarized him and not the opposite.
His version was contradicted by Weber, who interviewed Lyotard and specified that the philosopher answered her questions without a single note.
Bernheim still hasn’t come clean. While nominally accepting responsibility for the plagiarism in a “the bucks stops here” kind of way, he insists that he didn’t know about the pilfered passages in his book; he was hoodwinked by his “ghostwriter,” he claims. Reminds me of how copyright infringers on the web always claim that it’s the webmaster’s fault.
We will learn the truth, I think, especially now that the investigation is getting crowd-sourced following allegations that Bernheim has been at this for some time:
Jean-Noel Darde, a senior lecturer at Paris 8 University, suggested on his website that Bernheim also might have plagiarized books by other authors such as Elie Wiesel, Jean-Marie Domenach and Charles Dobzynski.
[image via la-croix.com]