Conversely, Harvard offers fellowships to criticize Israel – Fxsad

Conversely, Harvard offers fellowships to criticize Israel


Harvard’s Kennedy School on Thursday backtracked and pledged its support to a human rights activist who has been critical of Israel. The previous rejection raised a debate on academic freedom.

Kenneth Roth, former executive director of Human Rights Watch, said he was denied a fellowship by the school’s dean, Douglas Elmendorf, because of his views on Israel. A story published by the Nation earlier this month about the issue sparked protests by hundreds of students and faculty, calls for Elmendorf’s resignation, and heated debate over whether donors influenced the decision and whether academics should be free to speak and write about polarizing topics. at Harvard.

While many criticized Harvard’s decision, some defended Roth, a Jew, calling him anti-Semitic for his criticism of Israel.

Earlier this month, Roth wrote in the Guardian that the Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy had discussed a fellowship with him, but Elmendorf declined. “As far as we can tell, donor response was his concern.”

Roth responded that Dean had asked if he had enemies, and as a human rights activist, he had many, including the governments of China, Russia, Rwanda and Saudi Arabia. “There is no doubt that the Israeli government hates me too,” Roth wrote. “It became the kiss of death.”

On Thursday, Elmendorf wrote to the Kennedy School community, saying now that the decision was wrong and that the school will extend Roth’s fellowship offer. He emphasized that the decision was not influenced by donors to the school.

“Donors do not influence our consideration of academic matters,” he wrote. “My decision at the Kennedy School was not made to limit the debate about human rights in any country. As a community, we are steadfastly committed to free inquiry and the inclusion of a broad range of perspectives in public policy.” And appointments do not serve as proof or disproof of an individual’s opinion.

He said he would ask a faculty committee to develop a faculty-led process to review such appointments.

In the Roth case, he wrote, “I am sorry that the decision inadvertently casts doubt on the school’s mission and our commitment to open debate in a way that I did not think and believe to be true.”

said Roth, a visiting fellow at the University of Pennsylvania at Perry World House this academic year. He was surprised and pleased that the decision was overturned on Thursday, and is looking forward to his time at Kennedy School. He says he thinks the attention on his case has caused him to back down, but he questions what could happen to someone he doesn’t know much about.

“It’s a step forward,” Roth said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a total win because how do we prevent this from happening to other people? … I would like to see a greater commitment to academic freedom from the Kennedy School and from Harvard than we have seen so far.

Roth also did not identify the “‘people who mattered to him'” that Elmendorf said were behind his initial decision. “More transparency is needed here to ensure this does not happen again,” he said.

Harvard senior executive Natalie L. Kahn wrote an op-ed this week in the Harvard Crimson, the campus newspaper, defending the dean’s veto.Not everyone is entitled to a union just in the name of free speech,” she wrote. Our campus conversation regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be small and informative. By failing to add another voice to the anti-Israel echo chamber, the outcry will not hit the mark.

Matthias Reese, Carr’s director of human rights policy, wrote in an email on Thursday The faculty — including those who disagreed with Roth on some points — spoke with one voice on the matter. “I’m really excited about this event,” said Rice, who recommended Roth to the fellowship.

Pippa Norris, a longtime teacher at the Kennedy School, said she thought most teachers were happy that the dean had heard from students, teachers, human rights activists and others, and she was impressed that he had the courage to say he did it. error, and take steps to correct it. She said they appreciated the plan to create a faculty committee to look into selection procedures for visiting fellows.

“It would be good to solve the problem and reduce the temperature,” Norris said. “Live debate is great. And as long as people are passionate about these issues, as long as they have respect for the other side, and talk and debate about these issues, what do we want as a Harvard community? What do we want when we talk about Middle East politics?’

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