May 30, 2024
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University of Michigan ‘Disappointed’ After Professor Refuses to Write Recommendation Letter for Student Studying Abroad in Israel

(Shiri Moshe/Algemeiner) The University of Michigan (U-M) said it was disappointed after a professor refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student who sought to study abroad at Tel Aviv University, in an expression of support for the academic boycott of Israel.

In an email sent on September 5, Professor John Cheney-Lippold told the student, who had taken a course with him during the Spring 2018 semester, that he would have to rescind an earlier offer to write a letter of recommendation due to “politics.”

“As you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine,” he said in reference to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel

Cheney-Lippold noted that the academic boycott forbids “writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study” in Israel — a stipulation included in the official BDS guidelines.

He apologized for not informing the student of his stance earlier, and said he would be happy to write them other letters.

The student pointed out that Cheney-Lippold’s rejection did not appear to stem from any objection to their work ethic or other characteristics, but rather “his own political views.”

U-M made headlines in November after its student government passed a divestment resolution targeting Israel. A history professor who was barred from speaking at the divestment hearing told “The Algemeiner” at the time that “in my department alone there are six pro-BDS senior professors.”

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