Harvard may wish to reconsider its appointment of Sara Roy to the position of "Senior Research Scholar" at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. A researcher should at the very least be accurate when the source is something that he or she has written!
Sara Roy, in an op-ed published in the Boston Globe on 1/26, claims that Gaza needs 680,000 tons of flour per day to feed its population, yet Israel only allows 99 tons per day to enter. About a decade ago, Ms. Roy published a paper estimating Gaza's daily flour consumption at 275 tons.
Given that the 680,000 figure would mean each Gazan consumes approximately one-half ton of flour daily, I am inclined to believe that Ms. Roy deliberately submitted a slanderous lie for publication.
This is not the work of someone deserving of the title "Senior Research Scholar". This is the work of a propagandist.
Update — 7:20p, 2/5
Dean Smith's office responds:
I am responding on Dean Smith's behalf to let you know that the following correction has been published in the Boston Globe:
"Correction: A column on Saturday by Eyad al-Sarraj and Sara Roy incorrectly said that Gaza requires 680,000 tons of flour daily to feed its population. It is 680,000 pounds, which means a reduction of 73 percent, not 99 percent, of flour allowed into Gaza."
Credit to the Globe for the correction, and for not referring to it as an "error". But will Harvard take any sort of disciplinary action against Roy, or examine her related work for other deliberate slander?
Update — 11:02p, 2/5
Dear Ms. McFadden,
Thank you for the response.
This is a correction issued by the Boston Globe, however — does Harvard intend to issue a response of its own?
Update — 2:15p, 2/8
I would suggest that you contact Professor Steven Caton [Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies], as research associate appointments in the FAS are made on the recommendation of the appropriate dept chair or center director. Professor Caton's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Professor Caton,
As per my exchange with Ms. McFadden below, will Harvard be issuing any sort of response regarding the Sara Roy letter?
Professor Caton's response:
As you are asking for a "Harvard" response, I will have to bring this up with the appropriate authorities. It is not a decision I can make on my own. I will try to get back to shortly.
Regards, Steven Caton
Update — 2:15p, 2/13
Thank you for your patience. Here is my response, as you requested.
Sara Roy contacted me when she realized her mistake, and at the same time informed me of the storm of criticism with which it was greeted. When asked what she intended to do about the mistake, she told me that she was publishing a correction and an apology in the Boston Globe. It is my understanding, though I did not hear the program myself, that she subsequently was interviewed on NPR about the matter and repeated her correction and apologies there as well.
As far as I am concerned, CMES has done what was necessary to attend to an error and correct it. I am also of the view that Sara Roy has done all that is necessary to rectify what was a regrettable mistake. I consider the matter now closed.
Dear Professor Caton:
Thank you for taking the time to reply.
The Boston Globe ran a correction, but not an apology — and Sara Roy certainly is not mentioned as being the source for the correction.
The concern is with this being referred to as a "mistake." A mistake in judgment perhaps, but it is difficult to believe that the error was not deliberate, and as such, it is troubling that CMES does not share in the concern that the prestige its employment brings may be being used for activism and propaganda rather than research.