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Pro-Palestine US scholar quits ‘market-driven’ Harvard over ‘spiritual rot’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file picture, American public intellectual and progressive activist, Cornel West, introduces Colin Kaepernick at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the United States, in October 2018. (Photo by Getty Images)

US philosopher and political activist Cornel West has announced his resignation from Harvard’s Divinity School, citing “spiritual rot” and “deference to anti-Palestinian prejudices” in the oldest American university.

The 68-year-old scholar, in a resignation letter dated June 30 and posted to Twitter, suggested that discrimination at the university drove him to leave the Divinity School.

West said politics was a factor in Harvard’s decision not to extend his tenure, adding that his outspoken support for the Palestinian cause had been behind the move.

“How sad it is to see our beloved Harvard Divinity School in such decline and decay,” said West, one of the United States’ foremost Black scholars and an outspoken progressive activist. “The disarray of a scattered curriculum, the disenchantment of talented yet deferential faculty, and the disorientation of precious students loom large.”

West said Harvard has become “market-driven. Let us bear witness against this spiritual rot!” he tweeted.

In the letter, West said, “To witness a faculty enthusiastically support a candidate for tenure then timidly defer to a rejection based on the Harvard administration’s hostility to the Palestinian cause was disgusting.”

“This kind of narcissistic academic professionalism, cowardly deference to the anti-Palestinian prejudices of the Harvard administration, and indifference to my mother’s death constitute an intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of deep depths,” he said.

In February, West said that he was certain his criticism of Israel was one of the principal reasons for him being denied tenure at Harvard.

He said on the TightRope podcast that speaking about Israel’s occupation of Palestine “is a taboo issue among certain circles in high places.”

According to the Harvard Crimson daily student newspaper, the university has invested nearly $200 million in companies “tied to the Israeli occupation of Palestine” and supported the Tel Aviv regime’s policies of land expropriation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In March, West announced that he was returning to the Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he first taught more than four decades earlier.

“I am honored to return back home to Union, to a place with brilliant faculty and moral tenacity and that provides an opportunity to continue to work with students who are eager to put their faith into practice while striving for justice and seeking of truth,” he said at the time.


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