Answer Joel Kovel's Allegations of Politically-Motivated Termination sign now

Distinguished political scientist Joel Kovel has been dropped from the faculty of Bard College, in the culmination of a sequence of events that Kovel claims demonstrate a political motivation. Kovel's summary of events may be read at [1] (see below).

The administration of Bard College has failed to address Kovel's accusations in their substance. College officials, notably president Leon Botstein, have made statements to the press, and have written personal emails, which insist that Kovel's termination was merely an unfortunate effect of financial hard times, and which attempt to wave away the serious issues at stake by saying that Kovel was "not fired".

In truth, it is a fact that Kovel has been terminated, irrespective of whether that termination was accomplished by outright firing or by an "exercise of an option to not renew" an employment contract.

In truth, Kovel makes serious allegations about the circumstances of this termination -- implications which, if true, constitute a grave betrayal of basic standards of academic freedom and intellectual honesty.

Botstein has made a public career of portraying himself as an advocate of dissent, freedom of enquiry, and the essential interdependency of an academic sphere safe from repression and a healthy democracy. He writes for international newspapers and has spoken to the United Nations. He has conducted world-renowned orchestras. He has the public ear, in short, and as such is obliged to be not only truthful, but complete in the truth that he tells.

We contend that Botstein has failed to be complete, at the least, and has possibly failed to be truthful. Kovel's accusations are all assertions that can be easily verified, or falsified, by documentary evidence and forthright statements from the participants he identifies. We contend that the failure to respond in substance constitutes gravely bad faith on the part of the Bard administration, and that Botstein's continued intransigence on the matter is a betrayal of his obligations as college president and a public intellectual.

Kovel contends that the essence of his political dispute with the Bard administration is his public, controversial stance on the state of Israel. We, by signing the following, are making no statement whatsoever about any individual or collective stance on Israel, Zionism, or any of the other topics for which Kovel is well-known. Some of us may be fervent supporters of Zionism, some of us may reject Zionism but support Israel, some support a two-state solution, others a one-state solution....indeed, some of us may have absolutely no position on the matter at all.

What we all reject is the elimination of Kovel from the Bard faculty on what appear to be political grounds. We abhor the college's failure to address Kovel's substantive allegations. We deplore the responses and public statements from Botstein which have evaded the critical issues.

We demand a truthful, complete, and public response from Bard College to Joel Kovel's allegations.

[1] http://sites.google.com/site/yagottareadthis/open-letter-from-joel-kovel

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Latest Signatures

  • 27 December 2015450. Alex J
    I support this petition
  • 17 December 2015449. Jacques Delc
    I support this petition
  • 16 December 2015448. Odetta H
    Former Student of Prof. Kovel, "Zionism and Its Discontents", 2008
  • 06 December 2015447. Juha M
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  • 01 December 2015446. Souzana Ra
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  • 25 November 2015444. Fuat E
    academic freedom is not easy in the capitalist reaility
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  • 01 August 2015436. Martin C
    Kovel's presence at Bard has been valuable to the intellectual development of many students, myself included.
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Angelique KirbyBy:
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New York Times

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