Harvard Rescinds Fellowship for Kenneth Roth Based on Israel Criticism
January 10, 2023
Cited article by Kenneth Roth, The Guardian
HRRC expresses concern over the allegations that Harvard withdrew a fellowship to Kenneth Roth on the basis of potential donor fallout over remarks on Israel. While the reason for the denial of the fellowship has yet to be confirmed, the allegations and rumors are damaging to academic freedoms. Any institution that allows donors to affect the hiring of staff and those entering the student body are violating essential academic freedoms.
Kenneth Roth, who headed Human Rights Watch for 30 years, recently published an article through The Guardian remarking on the fallout with Harvard. Soon after announcing his departure from Human Rights Watch, Roth was approached by the Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard with an offer for a fellowship position. However, after interviewing with the Dean of the university, the fellowship offer was reportedly withdrawn primarily due to Roth's and HRW's criticism of Israel. The Kennedy School has not responded to these allegations.
Due to the publicity of this situation, many donors to the Kennedy School are confirmed to be supporters of Israel. This raises concerns that academic institutions, such as Harvard, are censoring their staff and student body based on the potential backlash from donors (i.e., losing funding). While the reason for the withdrawal of the fellowship offer has not been confirmed, the possibility of donor influence on academic freedoms is highly concerning.