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Academic Freedom and the Israel/Palestine Conflict: Lessons from the Kenneth Roth Scandal at Harvard

Special Session VIII-1, sponsored byAlwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian University at Georgetown and DAWN (Democracy in the Arab World), 2023 Annual Meeting

On Saturday, November 4 at 11:00 am

Special Session Description
On January 5, 2023, news broke that Kenneth Roth, the longtime Executive Director of Human Right Watch (HRW), was denied a fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School. In truth, he was first offered a fellowship and it was subsequently revoked by the Dean in deference to private donors/special interest groups who were upset by HRW’s criticism of Israel’s human rights record. After a faculty revolt, buttressed by global media coverage, Roth’s fellowship was reinstated, but the broader lessons from this controversy have not been systematically examined. This special session, with Kenneth Roth’s participation, seeks to examine this topic. Threats to academic freedom in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict have a long and sordid history in North America. The focus of this special session will not be a historical examination of this topic but rather on the more recent cases at Harvard, University of Denver, University of Toronto and the University of Washington, where academic freedom has been egregiously violated. Strategies for combatting this expanding problem will guide the panel discussion based on the various case studies.