PHILADELPHIA, PA—Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is deeply concerned by the recent nomination of Professor Bruce Duthu, as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth College.
Duthu is a known supporter of BDS and was one of the signatories of the 2013 “Declaration of Support for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions” issued by the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA).
Positively, Dartmouth economics professor Alan Gustman circulated a faculty-wide email expressing his grave concerns over Duthu’s anti-Israel activism arguing that such a position should not be filled by an individual who is opposes to working with Israeli academics and institutions based on their national origin as Gustman states,
“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…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.”
Gustman further stressed that 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…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.”
SPME wholeheartedly concurs and echoes Professor Gustman concerns.
As an academic organization, what is most troubling to SPME is that pro-BDS individuals like Duthu, engage with the topic of and Arab-Israeli conflict in a lopsided way, focusing exclusively on Israel. Critiquing only Israel among all the nations on earth—many countries where academics are denied even the ability to study, attend classes, or travel—is both counter-productive, since Israel guarantees individual and human rights of its own citizens and visitors, including its Arab citizens. BDS goes counter to any acceptable academic discourse and is contrary to the search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Moreover, academic boycotts are directly in opposition to decades of agreements between Israeli and Arab Palestinians, in which both sides pledged to negotiate a peaceful settlement and a commitment to a two state solution, but only Israel has repeatedly made concessions for peace.
Finally, viewing the Arab-Israeli conflict through the prism of BDS is dishonest, disingenuous and ahistorical something that hurts the academy at large. All of above, should cause President Phil Hanlon, Provost Carolyn Dever, and the entire Dartmouth Board of Trustees to seriously consider the serious ramifications of nominating pro-BDS individuals like Duthu and how such decisions reflect on the institution at large.