The College Art Association paid $75,000 to an Israeli scholar who threatened to bring a libel lawsuit against it in Britain, The Jewish Daily Forward reported, along with other details of a settlement agreement first reported by The Chronicle last week.
The scholar, Gannit Ankori, chair of the art-history department at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, had threatened to take action over a review of her book Palestinian Art in the fall 2007 issue of Art Journal, the association’s flagship publication. The contested review was written by Joseph A. Massad, an associate professor of Arab politics in the department of Middle East and Asian languages and culture at Columbia University.
In it, Mr. Massad alleged that Ms. Ankori had appropriated the work of a Palestinian artist and art historian, Kamal Boullata, without giving him proper credit. In a letter to the association, Ms. Ankori’s lawyers countered that the review contained false and defamatory statements and threatened to sue. The lawsuit was threatened in Britain, where her book had been published and where libel laws are more favorable to plaintiffs.
As part of the deal to resolve the dispute, the association issued an apology to Ms. Ankori and sent a letter to its institutional subscribers, stating that the review “contained factual errors and certain unfounded assertions.” It asked them to withdraw the relevant portions from circulation.
Mr. Massad, who is embroiled in a separate tenure battle at Columbia, acknowledged minor errors in his review but stood by his work. He characterized the association’s decision to settle rather than defend the review “a cowardly act.” —Jennifer Howard