Harvard Kennedy School: Dean Rescinds Fellowship Offer to Former Human Rights Watch Director Over Criticism of Israel


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Shortly after Kenneth Roth announced his plan to step down in August 2022 as executive director of Human Rights Watch after nearly thirty years, Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy offered him a senior fellowship with the center. Roth accepted the offer, which was then sent to HKS Dean Doug Elmendorf for final approval. But Elmendorf withdrew the offer, reportedly over Roth’s purported “anti-Israel bias.” On January 6, 2023, FIRE wrote HKS explaining that the school violated Roth’s expressive rights and undermined Harvard’s educational mission by denying him the fellowship because of his views. Two weeks later, Elmendorf reversed his decision and offered Roth the fellowship. He said he regretted that his error had cast doubt on HKS’s mission and commitment to open debate.