Harvard rescinds fellowship offer to former executive director of Human Rights Watch

Developing Just Leadership

Crescent International

Jumada' al-Akhirah 16, 1444 2023-01-09

Daily News Analysis

by Crescent International

Harvard University Kennedy School’s rescinding of a fellowship offer to the former head of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Kenneth Roth has evoked sharp rebuke from many academics across the United States.

Roth was executive director of HRW since 1993.

He announced his retirement from HRW in April 2022.

Immediately, the executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard, offered him to join as senior fellow.

Roth said he had been involved in this center since its founding in 1999.

The dean of Harvard Kennedy School, Douglas Elmendorf, whose approval of the offer should have been a formality, however, rescinded the offer fearing decline in funds from donors.

He cited Roth’s criticism of Israel as “problematic”.

In April 2021, HRW issued a report accusing Israel of practising a policy of apartheid towards the Palestinians.

This followed a similar report by the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, in January 2021.

Similar findings were echoed by Amnesty International as well in January 2022.

During an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now on January 9, Roth said that he was appalled by Elmendorf’s decision.

The former executive director of HRW explained that during a video conference with Elmendorf last July, he was asked whether he had any enemies.

Roth told Amy Goodman that he told Elmendorf that he had lots enemies because of his and the HRW’s work on human rights.

He cited the Chinese and Russians as being opposed to him.

He also mentioned Saudi Arabia.

When Elmendorf asked him about Israel, Roth was forthright; yes, Israel also considers me an enemy.

In withdrawing the offer, the Harvard dean cited Roth’s “anti-Israel bias” and his tweets on Israel, which he said were of ‘particular concern’.

Roth is Jewish and he said he was drawn to human rights work by his father’s experience in Nazi Germany, according to an article published by Michael Massing in The Nation.

The magazine described Roth as the “godfather of human rights”.

Reacting to Harvard’s decision to rescind the offer, Roth described it as “crazy” and said Elmendorf had “no backbone whatsoever”.

Both the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) and PEN America expressed dismay at Harvard University’s decision.

The New York Times had dubbed Roth the “godfather” of human rights.

It noted how he had been “an unrelenting irritant to authoritarian governments, exposing human rights abuses with documented research reports that have become the group’s specialty.”

Unfortunately, academic institutions in the United State have become tainted with money from big donors who exert enormous influence on decision-making compromising academic freedom.

Most of them are pro-Israel lobbyists who are hell-bent on preventing any mention of Israeli crimes.

America’s intelligence agency, the CIA also uses the enormous funds at its disposal to influence academic freedom and direct research and discussions in a direction favourable to the spy agency.

Weapons merchants are another breed who influence research and discussion at supposedly academic institutions.

By providing a thin veneer of academic legitimacy to what are essentially self-serving policies, these agencies—the CIA and weapons manufactures—get away literally with murder.

Harvard’s Carr Center is among the smallest and poorest of the school’s subdivisions.

With its eight-person staff and 32 fellows, it is dwarfed by other institutes at the Kennedy School that deal with defence policy, military strategy, and intelligence gathering.

Among them is the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

“A look at its activities can help explain why Roth was deemed too hot to handle,” Michael Massing wrote in his piece for The Nation.

The Belfer Centre counts former CIA Director David Petraeus among a long list of former intelligence brass taking part in its highest-profile initiatives.

Among the 16 members of the Dean’s Executive Board is also Idan Ofer, son of Israeli shipping magnate Sammy Ofer, and his wife Batia.

It almost reads like a who’s who of the zionist warmongers.

Pat Buchanan, a speech-writer for several US presidents said on The McLaughlin Group on June 15, 1990: “Capitol Hill is Israeli occupied territory”.

Harvard University could be added to this list.

Kenneth Roth had another offer, this one a visiting fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.

He accepted it. Harvard lost him, to its eternal shame and disgrace to academic freedom.

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