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Joel Kovel accuses Bard of firing him for his anti-Zionist scholarship

There was a great feature story in Sunday’s New York Times about New York’s Bard College and their groundbreaking partnership with the Palestinian Al Quds University. Ethan Bronner reports:

The plan, relying largely on outside financing, includes a liberal arts honors college and a master’s degree program in teaching, both located at Al Quds and granting joint degrees, as well as a model high school to serve as an educational laboratory.

At stake for both of the program’s biggest supporters, Al Quds president Sari Nusseibeh and Bard president Leon Botstein, is nothing less than the future of a Palestinian state, and a critically skilled student population to support such a state. Such a move to work together undoubtedly will cause great consternation among extremists on either side, but it also reflects an increasingly popular Israeli view that supporting the creation of a Palestinian state is the only way to ensure a Jewish future for Israel. (The interest for Palestinians is self-evident.)

So perhaps the timing is not so ironic, given well known anti-Zionist professor Joel Kovel’s untimely demise at Bard. Today Kovel issued this damning statement, which will no doubt be challenged by Bard, stating he was kicked out because of his political views:



In January, 1988, I was appointed to the Alger Hiss Chair of Social
Studies at Bard College. As this was a Presidential appointment outside
the tenure system, I have served under a series of contracts. The last
of these was half-time (one semester on, one off, with half salary and
full benefits year-round), effective from July 1, 2004, to June 30,
2009. On February 7 I received a letter from Michèle Dominy, Dean of the
College, informing me that my contract would not be renewed this July 1
and that I would be moved to emeritus status as of that day. She wrote
that this decision was made by President Botstein, Executive
Vice-President Papadimitriou and herself, in consultation with members
of the Faculty Senate.

This document argues that this termination of service is prejudicial and
motivated neither by intellectual nor pedagogic considerations, but by
political values, principally stemming from differences between myself
and the Bard administration on the issue of Zionism. There is of course
much more to my years at Bard than this, including another controversial
subject, my work on ecosocialism (/The Enemy of Nature/). However, the
evidence shows a pattern of conflict over Zionism only too reminiscent
of innumerable instances in this country in which critics of Israel have
been made to pay, often with their careers, for speaking out. In this
instance the process culminated in a deeply flawed evaluation process
which was used to justify my termination from the faculty.

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