US professor denies student letter to study in Israel

By Muhammed Bilal Kenasari

WASHINGTON (AA) – A University of Michigan professor is drawing criticism from a pro-Israel youth group for refusing to write a recommendation letter for a student to study abroad in Israel.

John Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor at the school’s American Culture department, said he could not write the letter for Abigail Ingber due to an "academic boycott against Israel".

“As you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of the Palestinians living in Palestine,” Cheney-Lippold wrote in an email. "This boycott includes writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study there [Israel]."

A screenshot of the email was posted to Facebook on Sunday by Club Z, a movement for pro-Israel students.

"An unbelievable email from a University of Michigan professor, who has refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student because she will be studying abroad in Israel," said Club Z.

It urged the U.S. Department of Education to take note of the case "in light of anti-Semitism".

Cheney-Lippold was referring to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.

Cheney-Lippold said he would not step back from his decision.

“I support the Palestinian boycott call because I am appalled at Israel’s continuing violation of Palestinian rights, and our government’s support for those violations,” he said in a statement sent by Palestine Legal, a Chicago-based advocacy group, according to the Detroit News.

“If a student had wanted to do a study abroad at an institution in Apartheid South Africa, I would have declined to write a letter for her as well.”

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