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Bruce Duthu’s Wan Song

Six weeks and three days after Phil Hanlon named him the College’s next Dean of the Faculty, Bruce Duthu responded last week with a letter to the faculty concerning his support for petitions recommending the shunning of Israeli institutions of higher learning:

Duthu E-mail May 9.jpg

Economics Professor Alan Gustman, author of an elaborate critique of Duthu’s appointment, responded in turn:

Gustman Response to Duthu May 9A.jpg

Professor Gustman is right: Bruce Duthu is trying to have it two ways. But he can’t both disavow a portion of his support for the boycotting of Israeli schools, and yet keep street cred with his radical friends who seek to isolate Israel. Either he revokes his previous position or he doesn’t.

There is a curious echo in this dialogue with our national politics. Donald Trump passes executive orders barring immigrants from certain countries, and the courts rule that the fact that these nations are predominantly Muslim is proof that Trump’s order is directed at members of a particular religious group, especially given Trump’s past criticism of Muslim terrorism. What are we to make of Duthu’s and BDS’ singling out for condemnation and boycotting of the world’s only Jewish country?

Again, in order to be clear, Bruce Duthu can criticize Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians all that he wants. That is his right as a citizen, as a professor, and as the Dean of the Faculty (and, frankly, most Israelis are critical in some way of their country’s behavior). But to advocate publicly the isolation of one nation’s professors based solely on their national origin renders him unfit for the office of Dean.

Are we really to believe that Duthu has sincerely put aside a long-held, blanket prejudice again all Israeli professors and universities — note: the fact that his view was/is held against all of these institutions without exception is what makes his position a prejudice — now that he is in line for a position in the administration that will pay him a salary comfortably in excess of $400,000/year. I think not.

Addendum: Beyond thorough, if belated, articles in the Valley News and The D about the Duthu controversy, Phil Hanlon’s choice of a BDS Dean has been all over America’s Jewish and conservative media. See: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, the Jewish Journal, the Jewish News Service, The Israel Project, the Washington Free Beacon, the Geller Report, Alums for Campus Fairness, The Observer, the Algemeiner, Legal Insurrection, the Daily Caller and PowerLine. Geez, even Ted Cruz tweeted about Duthu’s appointment.

Addendum: In response to Professor Gustman’s faculty-wide e-mail, a number of Dartmouth professors hit “reply all” and penned messages to the College’s professors:

Professor of Religion Robert M. Baum:

The Dean of the Faculty is not in a position to determine whether Dartmouth College is involved in academic boycotts of particular nations. In that sense, this is not relevant to Dean Duthu’s qualifications to be Dean. There is no credible evidence to suggest that he harbors any Anti-Semitic views and considerable evidence of his support for Jewish Studies and for faculty in general regardless of religious or ethnic background. We should not equate criticism of Israel with Anti-Semitism, especially since a growing number of Jews have joined in that criticism. Nor should we assume that friends of Israel are necessarily friends of Jews. Those dispensationalist Christians who strongly support Israel but blame Jews in the Diaspora for preventing the Second Coming of Christ are not friends of Jews. They believe that all Jews must be returned to Israel (that is they should not live in the US) and then convert to Christianity. According to their teachings, Jews must leave America and then cease to be Jews in order for their messianic visions to be accomplished. With friends like that who needs enemies? Yes, Professor Gustman there are plenty of Anti-Semites who support Israel for reasons that we would find disturbing.

I would remind Professor Gustman that universities in this country have more than a history of Anti-Semitism. Many were complicit with the wild accusations made by Joseph McCarthy. To ascribe anti-Semitic motives to a political position without any evidence fits within this McCarthyite tradition. Professor Gustman your attacks on Dean Duthu are not only unfair, but they distract from the rise of virulent anti-Semitism from real religious bigots like Stephen Bannon and Marine Le Pen. I have worked with Dean Duthu on a number of issues at Dartmouth and I am delighted that he will be an advocate for academic freedom and faculty concerns in the coming years.

Robert M. Baum
Associate Professor
Department of Religion
Program in African and African American Studies
Affiliated Faculty, Women and Gender Studies Program
Executive Editor, Journal of Religion in Africa

and:

Professor of Religion Kevin Reinhart:

Dear Professor Gustman

No particular political position, by itself, should disqualify one to be Dean of Faculty.

I have decided, for myself, that as it is presently constructed I do not support BDS. But to call it anti-Semitic is to cheapen the term. Israel is a just a country, regardless of its ethnic composition. When it flouts international law, in so many ways, it is perfectly reasonable to condemn its government and put pressure on the citizens who, (more or less) democratically elected the government, to choose a less odious regime.

There are anti-Semites who support BDS, just as there are Jewish-Americans who support the current American white nationalist government. But a Jewish dean who supported the presidency of Trump should not, in my view, for that fact alone be disqualified to be Dean of the Faculty. Silencing, from whatever side and whatever the cause is, I think, repellent to the idea of the university.

Thank you for sharing your views.
Sincerely,
A. Kevin Reinhart
Dept of Religion

and:

Professor of Engineering Science Brian W Pogue:

Colleagues,

I am so sorry to see an email list of the faculty degenerate in this way. I hope this is not a trend which will continue in such a negative manner. However, I cannot read the emails from Prof Gustman without commenting.

There are few faculty I have known who are as fair minded and open as Prof Duthu, and I cannot imagine how his choice as Dean of the faculty could be construed negatively. I hope all judge him on who he is, and his academic and service record, not on Dr Gustman’s narrowly sliced view of the world. There is no doubt in my mind that he would be a wonderful dean of the faculty, representing the entire campus. Let’s support a campus open to all ideas and discussion.

Brian

Brian W Pogue, PhD
Professor & Director of MS/MEng/PhD Programs in Engineering Science
Thayer School of Engineering

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

This appointment has been harshly criticized by the Jewish and conservative press and has been giving Dartmouth another black eye (especially among the Jewish community which already views the College as unwelcoming to Jewish students).

As does a parent:

Have been reading your recent DARTBLOG posts with great interest and my blood pressure is rising almost daily. What in the HEAVENS SAKE is going on up there in the Upper Valley? I am incensed with the childish (not to mention ILLEGAL) antics of the Dartmouth Legal TEAM to influence the outcome of today’s IMPORTANT 5/9/17 vote. INTOLERABLE! What in the world are they suggesting when they threaten students who might wish to vote? Repercussions??? Are you f…ing kidding me! Is this Berkeley? I’m steaming over the anticipated FV (Future Value) of this elite Dartmouth degree for which we have paid well in excess of $240K over the past four years.

Also, why cannot Hanlon or even a single member of the Board of Trustees take the time to respond to the recent correspondence from Professor Gustman? Any corporation would toss senior management out on their collective ear, for similar behavior, in today’s business world. Best of Luck to the College on the Long Range Capital Raise. I’m shocked by what I am reading and hearing!

And a member of the faculty:

Note among other things the last paragraph: instead of thanking his critics for raising important points and contributing to an meaningful debate and helping him change his mind (about boycotts), he thanks his supporters. Is he also keeping track of those who did not support him? Will they be punished? Chilling.

Also a confusing statement, as Alan Gustman has pointed out. Did Duthu change his mind? Does he think one thing as a “private citizen” and another as a powerful dean? Or does he continue to believe in boycotting Israeli academic institutions, but is willing to betray his convictions for the sake of ascending to a powerful office? Hard to know what’s going on here.

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