The pro-Israel community at Dartmouth College is reeling following a decision by school leadership to appoint as their new head of faculty a leading supporter of the movement to boycott Israel and Jewish academics.
Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon is facing criticism following his recent decision to appoint Native American studies Professor Bruce Duthu—a leading supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment movement, or BDS—as Dartmouth's dean of faculty.
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Dartmouth, which declined Washington Free Beacon requests to comment on the matter, has come under criticism from the pro-Israel community, including within the school's own staff, for elevating Duthu to a post of prominence. Duthu's vocal support for boycotts of Israeli academics and efforts to lead the charge in the BDS movement is dangerous, these individuals argue, and anathema to academic freedom.
The appointment also has renewed fear within the campus pro-Israel community given Dartmouth's anti-Semitic past, which included the active "Christianization of its students"
While pro-Israel faculty members spent weeks petitioning Dartmouth's leadership about Duthu's support for the BDS movement—which included co-authoring a leading BDS document backing the boycott of Israeli academic institutions—President Hanlon moved forward with the decision, prompting some to go public with their concerns.
Dartmouth economics professor Alan Gustman sent a faculty-wide email last week expressing his concern over Duthu's anti-Israel activism and the college leadership's apathetic response to these fears.
Dartmouth's top faculty member should not be an individual who is opposed to working with Israeli academics based on their national origin, Gustman argues.
"In view of Dartmouth's anti-Semitic history and Professor Duthu's endorsement of the anti-Semitic BDS document, Dartmouth must not simply appoint Duthu to the position of Dean of the Faculty and ignore the implications of that appointment," Gustman wrote. "Professor Duthu should either publicly disavow the full ramifications of the BDS positions he has publicly endorsed, or resign his position as Dean and return to his faculty position where expression of these views is sanctioned as academic freedom, but is not representative of Dartmouth College or its faculty."
Duthu "cannot, without contradiction, 1) assure council signers of the NAISA document and holders of their position of his support for action to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and at the same time 2) administer his job as Dean of the Faculty, while assuring Dartmouth that he will not take such action," Gustman wrote. "Given its history, Dartmouth cannot turn a blind eye to this contradiction. These issues must be directly and publicly addressed by the Dean, the President, and by the Board. Papering over hypocrisy and prejudice is no way to run an Ivy League College administration."
When asked to comment on the issue, a Dartmouth spokesman told the Free Beacon, "Thank you for the opportunity, but we are going to decline."
Dartmouth's silence on the BDS controversy has raised charges of hypocrisy, given the college's opposition to President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
Dartmouth President Hanlon and other top officials issued a public statement condemning Trump's immigration policies, but continue to remain silent in the face of charges the school is promoting boycotts of Israel.
"Dartmouth's commitment to the free and open exchange of ideas, global research, and education manifests itself in dozens of partnerships and in international study and exchange programs," the anti-Trump statement read. "Our engagement with the full human diversity of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences is critical—to both the strength of the Dartmouth community and the effectiveness of Dartmouth's learning and leadership. We recognize, value, and celebrate the essential contributions of our international students and scholars."
The controversy also has begun to resonate in Washington, D.C.
"Dartmouth has long been a hotbed of thinly-veiled anti-Semitic activism, which was excused by the faculty and the institution as criticism of Israel," said one senior official at a national pro-Israel organization who requested anonymity when discussing strategy. "This disgrace is the logical result. A bureaucrat who is supposed to manage an institution dedicated to the open exchange of ideas but who says that those exchanges shouldn't include Israeli Jews. Parents will ask themselves if those are the sorts of values they want their kids to learn."
Josh Block, president and CEO of the Israel Project, told the Free Beacon that Dartmouth must show its commitment to academic freedom.
"This is about dialogue and academic freedom, and simply put, anyone who rules out engaging an entire country, let alone the world's only Jewish state, is simply unfit to run an institution dedicated to liberal education and higher learning," Block said." And that is before we examine the despicable, anti-Semitic double standard being applied, in which the flaws of Israel's democracy are held up for sanction while the professor and his fellow travelers embrace or ignore numerous regimes committing actual atrocities on historic scale."
"It's not just Dartmouth's reputation that is being damaged, it is the university's very credibility as an institution capable of discerning right from wrong," Block added. "Post-modernism married with Moral Relativism is the disease of our time, and a toxic cocktail on display so far here."
Stephen Smith, an executive director USC Shoah Foundation, which fights anti-Semitism, publicly condemned Dartmouth for elevating Duthu in a recent op-ed.
"Those who call for singling out Israel for the Divestment, Boycott, and Sanction will deny they are anti-Semitic, but the result is clear: when you exclude a colleague by association to their affiliation with an Israeli institution of higher education, you are not targeting the state, you are targeting the individual," Smith wrote.