The prestigious Harvard University, in the northeastern United States, finally offered a teaching-research position on Thursday to the former emblematic boss of the NGO Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, known for his criticism of Israel. .
After provoking a controversy over the freedom to teach by refusing the appointment of Kenneth Roth to Harvard a few weeks ago, the dean of the Kennedy School of public policy, Doug Elmendorf, admitted Thursday in an internal letter consulted by the AFP that he had made a “mistake”.
The former director of the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), who retired in the summer of 2022, will be able to teach for a year at the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Kennedy School, admitted Mr. Elmendorf.
He said he was “sorry” that his initial decision to refuse “could cast doubt on the school’s mission and commitment to open debate”.
It all started several weeks ago when The Nation magazine revealed that Mr Elmendorf had blocked Mr Roth’s nomination over HRW’s alleged ‘anti-Israel bias’ and his boss’ repeated criticism of Israel’s policies. Hebrew State.
In fact, the powerful New York-based organization, often close to the positions of American diplomacy under the Democratic administration in terms of human rights, had accused Israel, an ally of the United States, in 2021 of “crimes of apartheid and persecution”. against the Palestinians.
Criticizing this report, many Jewish political associations in the United States had denounced the NGO, the American Jewish Committee considering that HRW flirted “sometimes with the border of anti-Semitism”.
The United States has the largest Jewish community in the world after Israel.
Kenneth Roth, who led HRW from 1993 to 2022, said he was “very happy” that Mr Elmendorf had changed his mind, after accusing him in the British newspaper The Guardian of being scared a few years ago weeks of the “reaction” of pro-Israeli patrons of Harvard University, which has been based since 1636 in Cambridge, near Boston, Massachusetts.
“The problem of people being penalized for their criticism of Israel is not confined to my case, but most academics and students do not have the same capacity for mobilization,” Mr. Roth further denigrated in a press release on Thursday.
In his letter, Mr. Elmendorf denied being “influenced by the donors” of Harvard and that, in his view, there was “no limit to the debate at the Kennedy School on human rights, whatever the country “.
Leave a Reply