Saturday, March 07, 2009

Raphael Haim Golb arrested

Last summer I wrote about a panel on Women and Qumran at a conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls that was held at the Israel Museum. In the comments to the posting I received a couple of comments by "Museum Ethics Controversy" and "peter.kaufman2," claiming that there was a deliberate attempt at this conference and others to suppress the views of those disagreeing with the majority scholarly consensus that identifies the scrolls as having belonged to the library of the sect quartered at Qumran, who are generally agreed to be the Essenes whom Josephus wrote about (although there are important scholarly disagreements about this proposition).

It turns out that these comments were probably made by Raphael Haim Golb, who has been posting under many different aliases with the aim of forwarding his father's theories (Norman Golb) about the origins of the scrolls. Robert Cargill has documented Golb's aliases (by the way, in his article, he carefully does not identify the person who posted under all of the aliases, but instead demonstrates that all of the aliases were the same person), including Peter Kaufman. Raphael Golb was just arrested in New York City for identity theft, impersonation (of Dr. Lawrence Schiffman), and harassment.

The defendant, RAPHAEL HAIM GOLB, was arrested on charges of identity theft, criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment. The crimes in the Criminal Court Complaint occurred during the period of July to December of 2008.

The investigation leading to today’s arrest revealed that GOLB engaged in a systematic scheme on the Internet, using dozens of Internet aliases, in order to influence and affect debate on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in order to harass Dead Sea Scrolls scholars who disagree with his viewpoint. GOLB used computers at New York University (NYU) in an attempt to mask his true identity when conducting this Internet scheme. He gained access to NYU computers by virtue of being a graduate of the university, and having made donations to its library fund.

For more information, see the article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which also explains how Cargill became involved in the issue.

Robert R. Cargill, an instructional technology coordinator at the University of California at Los Angeles's Center for Digital Humanities, has for the last two years been tracking the activity of an academic cyberbully who, writing under as many as 60 different aliases, has been waging a campaign to harass and defame opponents of Norman Golb's theories about the origin of the 2,000-year-old scrolls.

He said that by tracking the Internet protocol addresses attached to a number of e-mail messages, blog posts, and other Web activities, he was able to conclude with reasonable certainty that the perpetrator was working from a series of computers at the Bobst Library. (An IP address is a unique number, assigned by Internet-service providers, that identifies every connection to the Internet.)

Mr. Cargill, who has carefully refrained from making any direct accusations against Raphael Golb or his father, Norman Golb, declined to say whether he had assisted the district attorney's investigation.

Mr. Cargill began tracking the cyberbully—whom he calls the "Puppet Master"—two years ago after he himself was targeted. At the time, he was a doctoral student at UCLA helping to produce a film about Khirbet Qumran—the site in present-day Israel where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered—and its inhabitants for an exhibit on the scrolls at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Mr. Cargill said it was then that the aliases began attacking him and his film, both in e-mail messages to his superiors and on various Web forums, for failing to give credence to Norman Golb's long-held theory about the origin of the scrolls and how they came to Khirbet Qumran.

I had wondered why the commenter was so vehement in his assertions on my blog. I rarely post on the Qumran scrolls and didn't expect to find a reply that dealt with such a specific issue of controversy.

1 comment:

  1. Schiffman's daughter, by the way, lives in Eli, the community just north of Shiloh, where I live.

    And I agree with your comment on Walker.