Ex-HRW head Ken Roth denied Harvard fellowship due to 'anti-Israel bias' - report

During Roth's tenure as the head of HRW, the watchdog NGO was often criticized for its statements and publications against Israel, including accusing the Jewish state of apartheid.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Geneva, Switzerland, January 12, 2021. Picture taken January 12, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE)
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Geneva, Switzerland, January 12, 2021. Picture taken January 12, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE)

Former Human Rights Watch (HRW) executive director Kenneth Roth was denied a fellowship at Harvard University due to an "anti-Israel bias," The Nation reported Thursday.

Roth, the child of Jewish parents whose father fled from Nazi Germany, helmed the internationally renowned human rights NGO to historic growth in his nearly three-decade-long tenure and was dubbed by The New York Times as the godfather of human rights. 

Roth was also linked to the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Coalition to Ban Landmines, of which HRW was a founding member.

However, he announced he would be resigning from his post back in April. 

Afterward, he would attempt to take up an invitation to apply to become a senior fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Human Rights Watch logo (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Human Rights Watch logo (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

However, the school's Dean Douglas Elmendorf rejected his application due to HRW having an anti-Israel bias, the Nation reported.

During Roth's tenure as the head of HRW, the watchdog NGO was often criticized for its statements and publications against the Jewish state, including its release of a major report in which it accused Israel of apartheid against the Palestinian people.

Roth himself has also come under fire on numerous occasions for supposedly having an anti-Israel bias.

NGO Monitor welcomes Harvard decision to bar Kenneth Roth

In a statement, Israel-based watchdog NGO Monitor welcomed the university's decision.

"The dean at Harvard was not fooled by the moral façade granted to Roth and HRW. He recognized Roth's central contributions to legitimizing antisemitism."

Gerald Steinberg

"During his 29 years as head of HRW, Roth led human rights activists in demonizing Israel," said NGO Monitor president Prof. Gerald Steinberg. 

"The dean at Harvard was not fooled by the moral façade granted to Roth and HRW. He recognized Roth's central contributions to legitimizing antisemitism."

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.