After Taking a Stand, Harvard Surrenders to the Israel-Haters

While Minnesota’s Hamline University has stood behind its decision abruptly to fire a professor for showing students medieval Muslim paintings of Mohammad, Harvard University’s Kennedy School quickly reversed its decision not to grant a prestigious fellowship to the career Israel-basher Kenneth Roth. Unlike the adjunct professor of art history who lost her job in the name of equity, Roth—recently retired from a long career as head of Human Rights Watch—was well positioned to conduct a campaign in the press against Harvard, and to paint himself as a victim of nefarious pro-Israel “donors.” Jonathan Tobin comments:

While Roth is fêted in intellectual circles as a brave truth-teller and human-rights advocate, he is anything but. A veteran Israel-hater, Roth hijacked an organization that was once respected as an impartial, non-partisan opponent of tyrannical regimes around the world. Under his leadership, it became part of an international leftist movement that twisted the concept of human rights into what was primarily a euphemism for championing the Arab and Islamist war against the existence of the state of Israel.

Though not entirely silent about other human-rights offenders, Human Rights Watch became . . . part of an international “lawfare” campaign conducted in forums such as the UN Human Rights Council. Roth . . . is also a terrible hypocrite who took $470,000 from a Saudi billionaire by promising not to advocate for LGBTQ rights in the Muslim world. But the issue here is bigger than the travesty of a figure like Roth being given such prestigious honors by schools viewed as the gold standard of learning.

The willingness of the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and other liberal outlets to skew their coverage on the issue by falsely describing Roth as a “critic” of Israel is equally depressing. Israel’s government, like that of any other country, may be criticized for this or that policy. But those who label it an “apartheid state” and seek to haul it into international kangaroo-court tribunals are not “critics.”

Read more at JNS

More about: Academia, Freedom of Speech, Harvard, Human Rights Watch, Israel on campus

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy