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

January 24, 2023 | Jonathan Tobin
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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.”

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