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(Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2023)—B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:

The recent decision by the Harvard Kennedy School to reverse its previous decision not to offer a fellowship to the former executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Kenneth Roth, is deeply offensive, as it highlights how major American universities are willing to turn a blind eye on anti-Jewish bigotry in the name of academic freedom. This is a worrisome trend, particularly given the current rise of anti-Semitism throughout the country.

Roth’s criticism of Israel has often crossed the line into anti-Semitism, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). In particular, the report issued by HRW in April 2021, under Roth’s leadership, which concluded that Israel is an apartheid state, proves this point very clearly.

As we’ve highlighted in our report, “The Apartheid Slander Against Israel and the Ideological Distortion of Human Rights” the methodology used by the HRW report did not meet any academic standards, it clearly subjected Israel to a standard no other country would be subjected to and downplayed the security predicament Israel has always endured.

As any other university, Harvard has the right to choose its Fellows. This is not about academic freedom but about choice. And unfortunately, by making this choice, Harvard is stating very clearly that the demonization of Israel is now acceptable and welcome on its campus.