Newly-Appointed Dartmouth Dean Disavows Academic Boycotts After Taking Heat Over BDS Ties
A Dartmouth College professor with ties to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has released a statement addressing the controversy over his appointment to a consequential administrative position.
N. Bruce Duthu — who was appointed the dean of faculty in March, after signing and allegedly co-writing a BDS statement for the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) in 2013 — wrote, according to a copy of the statement obtained by The Algemeiner ahead of its publication on Tuesday: “I continue to believe in the right of private citizens to express criticism of any country’s government policies. At the same time, I do not believe that a boycott of academic institutions is the appropriate response. Instead, I support sustained, open and collegial engagement with fellow academics, including collaborative research and teaching.”
Duthu continued, “In my role as Associate Dean for International Studies and Interdisciplinary Programs, I have embraced” the position of the Dartmouth president, who rejected BDS in 2013. “[A]s Dean of the Faculty, I will continue to fully support it [the president’s position],” Duthu wrote.
Duthu added that on “subjects that are particularly contentious, divisive or polarizing, such as the issue of academic boycotts generally or criticism of the state of Israel,” it is his “firm expectation” that they will be discussed with “open and civil discourse.”
He also noted that he “condemn[s] anti-Semitism.”
Sandor Farkas — former editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth Review and president of Dartmouth Students for Israel — told The Algemeiner after being shown the statement, “While I find it honest and satisfactory, it is quite lackluster and seems like the work of the college PR department.”
Farkas said he does not believe Duthu will “do anything anti-Israel on an administrative level” as dean of faculty.
“That said, I don’t ‘trust’ anyone to respect the Jewish state,” he went on. “I am thankful he is not an enemy, but there will only be more people like him, and one day, they won’t feel the need to defer to their Jewish colleagues on the Israel question. We can’t live and die by the support of others; we have to stand on our own legs.”
One pro-Israel Dartmouth faculty member said Duthu’s statement was “a step in the right direction, but still rather tepid and I would have preferred to see a stronger rejection of BDS.”
Duthu was previously praised by the Dartmouth Jewish studies department chair, Susannah Heschel, for his support of Judaic and Israel-related programs.
Some in the Jewish and pro-Israel community have criticized the college for its choice of an academic with a history of supporting BDS for a major role in the administration, and demanded that Duthu issue a full renunciation of his boycott views as a caveat to his proceeding as dean of faculty.