Human rights expert who was denied fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School over criticizing the Zionist entity wondered what lesser figures across the world would suffer if that is the situation with him.
In an interview with MSNBC on Monday, Kenneth Roth told The Mehdi Hasan Show about being denied a Harvard fellowship over his criticism to ‘Israel’.
“If they can do this to me, imagine what they can do to lesser figures,” Roth said.
The former executive director of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) slammed how “the Kennedy School has become utterly afraid of any criticism of Israel” under pressure from donors and influential supporters within the school of Israeli rightwing government.
“There are many younger academics who see this and say, ‘If I criticize Israel, this will be the end of my career.’ That’s a terrible message for the Kennedy School to be sending,” @KenRoth tells @mehdirhasan about being denied a Harvard fellowship over his Israel criticism. pic.twitter.com/AMbPyzt4nm
— The Mehdi Hasan Show (@MehdiHasanShow) January 10, 2023
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.
Right Groups Slams Harvard
Leading civil rights organizations have condemned the Kennedy School’s move.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the refusal of a fellowship to Kenneth Roth “profoundly troubling”.
“If Harvard’s decision was based on HRW’s advocacy under Ken’s leadership, this is profoundly troubling – from both a human rights and an academic freedom standpoint, director of the ACLU, Anthony Romero said, as cited by The Guardian.
“Scholars and fellows have to be judged on their merits, not whether they please powerful political interests,” Romero added.
Pen America, which advocates for freedom of expression, said the move raises serious questions about one of the US’s leading schools of government. Roth also received backing from other human rights activists.
“It is the role of a human rights defender to call out governments harshly, to take positions that are unpopular in certain quarters and to antagonize those who hold power and authority,” the group said on its website.
“There is no suggestion that Roth’s criticisms of Israel are in any way based on racial or religious animus.”
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