Q: What is a human rights academic who won’t criticize Israel?
A: Apparently the only kind acceptable to Harvard @Kennedy_School Dean Douglas Elmendorf.
Q: Is that what @Harvard stands for, President Lawrence Bacow?
A: We’re waiting to find out. https://t.co/ZNEphF01Jh
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) January 7, 2023
The critics of @HRW‘s reporting on Israeli repression of Palestinians don’t say we got any facts wrong, just that we focused too much on Israel, despite it being only one of 100 countries that Human Rights Watch regularly works on. They want no reporting. https://t.co/fJjw6z0isq
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) January 8, 2023
Jews know they have to be at the head of any movement that is criticizing Israel’s human rights record.
But Jews also get actually mad about Jews who take on the role of gatekeeping pro-Palestine sentiment.
Harvard and HRW are both Jewish organizations, and Roth is Jewish.
Leading civil rights organisations have condemned Harvard Kennedy School’s denial of a position to the former head of Human Rights Watch over the organisation’s criticism of Israel.
The American Civil Liberties Union called the refusal of a fellowship to Kenneth Roth “profoundly troubling”. PEN America, which advocates for freedom of expression, said the move “raises serous questions” about one of the US’s leading schools of government. Roth also received backing from other human rights activists.
But the Kennedy School found support from organisations that have been highly critical of Roth and HRW, particularly over the group’s report two years ago that accused Israel of practising a form of race-based apartheid in the Palestinian occupied territories.
The Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy offered Roth a position as a senior fellow shortly after he retired as director of HRW in April after 29 years. But the school’s dean, Douglas Elmendorf, allegedly vetoed the move.
A professor of human rights policy at the Kennedy School, Kathryn Sikkink, told the Nation that Elmendorf said to her that Roth would not be permitted to take up the position because HRW has an “anti-Israel bias” and its former director had written tweets critical of Israel.
Roth told the Guardian that Harvard’s move was a reflection of “how utterly afraid the Kennedy School has become of any criticism of Israel” under pressure from donors and influential supporters within the school of Israel’s rightwing government.
The Israeli human rights issue is so glaring and so damning that the only thing they can really do is just create massive chaos and confusion surrounding any discussion of it.