A University of Delaware professor who said that student Otto Warmbier, a victim of the North Korean regime, “got exactly what he deserved,” after he was held and possibly murdered by North Korea, is a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) effort which seeks to delegitimize Israel.
Kathy Dettwyler, an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware, wrote on her personal Facebook page that Warmbier was “typical of the mindset of a lot of the young, white, rich, clueless males who come into my class.”
Warmbier was a University of Virginia student visiting North Korea on a January 2016 trip. Accused by North Korean authorities of stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel, he was subsequently arrested and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. On June 13, 2017—to his parents’ shock and horror—Warmbier was returned to U.S. soil, unresponsive and in a coma. Six days later, Warmbier—who was reportedly in good health at the time of his trip—died from his injuries, having been in a coma for at least 15 months.
Gordan Chang, a foreign affairs analyst who specializes in North Korea and China, pointed out that although Pyongyang claims Warmbier had contracted botulism, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, which examined the student upon his return, “found no traces of botulism but did find dead brain tissue”—likely the result of severe trauma.
In her Facebook post, Dettwyler justified the young man’s death at the hands of a brutal, authoritarian regime. Writing for the News Journal, reporter Jessica Bies noted some of the professor’s troubling remarks:
“These are the same kids who cry about their grades because they didn’t think they’d really have to read and study the material to get a good grade … His parents ultimately are to blame for his growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. Maybe in the US, where young, white, rich, clueless white males routinely get away with raping women. Not so much in North Korea. And of course, it’s Ottos’ parents who will pay the price for the rest of their lives.”
Dettwyler is also a BDS supporter, according to research by CAMERA that found that she was a signatory for the “Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions.”
The movement’s co-founder, Omar Barghouti, has stated that the purpose of BDS is to permanently end Jewish self-rule in the region; he advocates a Palestinian Arab state to replace the Jewish one, not a “two-state solution.” (“BDS, Academic/Cultural Boycott of Israel, and Omar Barghouti,” Feb. 24, 2010, CAMERA).
As CAMERA has noted (“J Street’s Unreported Pro-BDS Partner—‘Jewish Voice for Peace,’” June 18, 2015), the “Palestinian civil society groups” behind the founding of the BDS movement include U.S.-designated terrorist organizations Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah and non-Palestinian Syrian extremist movements. The charter of Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel and genocide of the Jews.
Indeed, in his April 19, 2016 testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Jonathan Schanzer, a former U.S. Treasury Department terror analyst, highlighted ties between the BDS movement and Hamas-linked charities. Schanzer testified that the U.S. Coalition to Boycott Israel (also known as the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine) is led by a Chicago resident named Ghassan Barakat, a member of the Palestine National Council (PNC), and its coordinator is Senan Shaqdeh. Shaqdeh is a former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terrorist group, and a self-described founder of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a pro-BDS group.
Given her support for BDS, Dettwyler’s decision to blame the victim of an autocratic, anti-Western regime, seemingly on the grounds of his racial/ethnic makeup, is perhaps unsurprising.
Amid calls for Dettwyler’s dismissal, the University of Delaware has stated that the professor’s “distressing” comments “do not reflect the values or position” of the school.
Contributed by CAMERA’s Sean Durns