Civility is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity in the debate over the Dead Sea Scrolls. The discussion has recently descended to a new low in an interview published in the October 4, 1991, issue of Ha’aretz, a leading Tel Aviv daily.

Magen Broshi, the curator of the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem and a member of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s three-man scroll advisory committee, took off in the interview against fellow scroll scholar Norman Golb. Golb is the Ludwig Rosenberg Professor of Jewish History and Civilization at the University of Chicago. Broshi and Golb disagree in their interpretation of the scrolls.

In discussing the Huntington Library’s decision to release its pictures of the unpublished scrolls, Broshi said that this would lead to the dissemination of poor scholarship. He used Golb as an example. “Look how Golb has filled the world with filth” (lbz in Hebrew). Broshi characterized Golb as “a revolting argumentalist, a polemicist, an opinionated troublemaker … When shall we be free from Golb?” Broshi asked and then answered his own question: “When he dies.” Broshi concluded that “the world is filled with Golbism. This will multiply manure (tpwnyf) in the market.”

This is not the first time Broshi has engaged in this kind of character assassination of another scholar. Not long ago, Broshi accused Robert H. Eisenman, chair of the Religious Studies Department, California State University at Long Beach, of being “a very minor scientist” who made sensationalist statements that were “all lies.” This was reported in the Jerusalem Post; the Israel Press Council found these statements unfair to Eisenman and recommended that the Jerusalem Post give space to Eisenman to reply. (Eisenman did so without the kind of vituperative language employed by Broshi.)

One wonders whether it is necessary for Broshi to resort to this kind of invective and name-calling in order to make his point. Can’t we introduce a little civility, derech eretz I believe is the term in Hebrew, in the Dead Sea Scrolls discussion?