CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, Tuesday, January 10, 2023 (WAFA) – The Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Palestinian Alumni Collective today called for the resignation of HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf and the reinstatement of Human Rights Defender Kenneth Roth.
“Dean Douglas Elmendorf’s recent decision to rescind Kenneth Roth’s appointment at the Harvard Kennedy School is profoundly wrong and demonstrates his hostility to academic freedom and honest human rights discourse,” said the HKS Palestine Alumni Collective in a statement. “Dean Elmendorf has abrogated his responsibility to the HKS community and the principles underpinning free thought in a free society. As the body representing Palestinian alumni of HKS, we call for his resignation.”
It said that Dean Elmendorf’s decision to withdraw Roth’s fellowship appointment to the Carr Center for Human Rights was due to Roth’s criticism of Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians.
“The Harvard Kennedy School is dear to all of us. Yet, our collective experiences with institutionalized anti-Palestinian discrimination at HKS have included the administration’s support for Israeli state-sponsored violence and apartheid. We are deeply dismayed that this support continues,” said the statement.
“The various standards applied by Dean Elmendorf are noteworthy. While rescinding Roth’s appointment, the Dean has chosen to host Israeli officials who bear responsibility for war crimes perpetrated against Palestinians, including the crime of apartheid, a crime against humanity. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations have all issued reports documenting the realities of Israeli apartheid,” it added.
The Collective said Roth is a prominent and well-respected global civil society leader, has devoted his career to exposing human rights violations around the world, and has been banned from states, including China and Russia, for his work in those countries.
It quoted Eric Goldstein, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, saying, “If Harvard feels empowered to block a slam-dunk candidate Ken Roth over Israel criticism, imagine the chilling effect across academia on lesser-known – and particularly Palestinian – critics of Israeli repression.”
The Palestine Alumni Collective called on the Harvard Kennedy School to appoint a new Dean “who is truly committed to academic freedom,” and for the reinstatement of Kenneth Roth’s fellowship at the Carr Center for Human Rights.
“We hope that HKS can become a more welcoming institution for Palestinians and those who stand with us in our struggle for freedom from occupation and colonization. We look forward to the day when defending our rights and freedom is a cause for recognition and commendation rather than sanction,” concluded the statement.