Antisemitism: What is done by Jews to other Jews who support human rights for Palestinians

Two top universities:  Harvard and University of Toronto;

Two of North America’s best- endowed universities;

Two leading administrators who denied two candidates jobs. 

The two chosen candidates were Jewish. 

Sounds like antisemitism, doesn’t it? 

But it is not.  

The two leading Jewish intellectuals denied jobs are critical of  Israel. 

Two leading Jewish intellectuals critical of Israel both denied jobs

Two weeks ago, the highly respected and leftist US magazine The Nation, ran an in-depth article about Kenneth Roth, and Harvard’s dismissal of him before he was formally hired.  

Above: Kenneth Roth, and the Harvard KennedySchool

Roth is the recently retired Executive Director of the internationally-respected non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch.  He led the organization for nearly 30 years. In 1997, Human Rights Watch shared the Nobel Peace Prize as a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. In 2008, HRW won the United Nation’s Prize for Human Rights.  During that time, Roth steered it from being a $7 million concern to a $100 million agency with more than 550 staff in  90 countries.

“They objected to us because we at Human Rights Watch are impartial and so our commentary [against Israel] stings more.”

Kenneth Roth, 19 Jan. 2023

Roth had been selected for a fellowship by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.  But two weeks later, after being chosen for the job, the offer was rescinded.  Roth’s friends told him the dean at the Harvard Kennedy School, Douglas Elmendorf, had vetoed the appointment because of Roth and Human Rights Watch’s criticism of Israel.  According to Roth, “The Dean later explained it was not his personal view, but people who mattered to him objected to my fellowship.”  Were they donors? Roth never found out. What bothered Roth was that “They objected to us because we [at Human Rights Watch] are impartial and so our commentary stings more.”  

Dr Azarova and the U of T Law School

Valentina Azarova is an internationally known legal and human rights scholar, based in Europe.  In 2020, the selection committee of University of Toronto’s Law School decided to hire Azarova to chair its International Human Rights Program.  Shortly afterward, the Law School’s dean Edward Iacobucci kiboshed her hiring – after having offered her the job – because of her “writings on Palestine.” 

Below: Dr Valentina Azarova (credit: Hillary Rodham School of Law), and the University Toronto Law School

According to Denise Réaume, Professor Emerita at the U of T Law School, “behind the scenes a prominent donor, a friend of law school and a sitting judge was making overtures and ‘having a quiet word’ with the university’s Advancement Office”.  Azarova was seen by CIJA (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) as biased against Israel. According to Réaume there were “expectations on both sides that he [the donor] was entitled to ask for this favour.”   According to Prof. Réaume, the dean knew of this intervention, but he insisted he had not been influenced– still he decided not proceed with Azarova’s  appointment.  

“There were expectations on both sides– that the donor was entitled to ask for this favour.”

Professor Emerita Denise Réaume, U of T Law School

Academics across Canada protested loudly.  The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), which represents the teaching faculty at 125 Canadian universities and colleges, censured the University of Toronto.   

As Denise Réaume pointed out, it took a year for faculty, staff, students and the public to mount enough political pressure against University of Toronto for it to rescind the decision. The university once again offered the position to Valentina Azarova.  She turned the job down which suggested she had no confidence in the institution.  

Prof Réaume contrasted the U of T’s reversal with Harvard Kennedy School’s climb-down over Kenneth Roth.  Within two weeks of The Nation’s exposé about rescinding Roth’s fellowship and Harvard’s flagrant disregard for academic freedom, the Dean Elmendorf apologized and reversed his decision.  Roth decided to accept the position.  

Contrary to what the media says, the greatest discrimination against Jews are against Jews who show favour to Palestine and the Palestinian people.  

Cancel culture is alive and well – and practiced against Jewish academics who dare to speak up against Israeli policies. 

Featured image: Sculpture by Daniel Mauch (1477-1540) and his pupils: Jews killing Saint Simonino in Trento Italy (Wikipedia Commons). In 1475, a two-year-old Christian boy called Simon went missing, which led to the torture of 18 Jews and the execution of eight Jews. Little Simon (Simonino) was later elevated to sainthood. Christians said Jews baked his blood into their matzah for Passover. It wasn’t until 1965, that Pope Paul VI removed Simonino from the roster of saints. Read more about it here. These events are an example of antisemitism, not the words and writings of Kenneth Roth or Valentina Azarova.

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