A University of Michigan professor is under fire for refusing to write a letter of recommendation for study in Israel because he supports BDS. John Cheney-Lippold, a professor of American culture, declined to recommend junior Abigail Ingber for a semester of study in Israel because he supports a against Israel.
“As you may know, many University departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine,” he emailed Ingber. “This boycott includes writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study there.”
Cheney-Lippold denies that his refusal was anti-Semitic, as he is boycotting Israeli institutions, not the Jewish student. He said that the study abroad programs themselves are discriminatory, alleging that they would deny admittance to Palestinian students or those who are pro-Palestinian.
Masha Merkulova, executive director of the pro-Israel Club Z, said the decision is anti-Semitic as it came “solely because her chosen destination is Israel.” She accused Cheney-Lippold of holding Ingber to a double standard. The U.S. Department of Education may agree. Its Office of Civil Rights is employing the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, which includes some types of anti-Israel activity. The definition includes “applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” and holding Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s actions.
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