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Activist Fellowship Rejection by Harvard University Overturned for Criticizing Israel

Kenneth Roth

Kenneth Roth, a former executive director of Human Rights Watch, was denied a fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School because of his criticism of Israel, but Harvard University has reversed its decision.

Douglas Elmendorf, the institution’s dean, earlier blocked the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy from awarding Mr. Roth a one-year fellowship because he believed that Mr. Roth’s old publication, Human Rights Watch, had a bias towards Israel.

The Nation reported earlier this month that Mr. Elmendorf had confided in his colleagues that he had personal concerns about how Mr. Roth had depicted Israel. After making that revelation, he was harshly criticized by well-known organizations that support free speech, who called his decision “shameful” and an attempt to stifle the hotly contested discussion of human rights in Israel among university students.

Without providing any other information, Mr. Elmendorf stated that he had rejected the idea due to his assessment of Mr. Roth’s “possible contributions to the institution.”

Mr. Elmendorf reversed his decision and stated that the institution will extend an invitation to Mr. Roth in the hopes that it would be able to take advantage of “his deep experience in a wide variety of human rights concerns.”


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