A friend sent me a link to a Washington Post article posted on October 9. The headline in the article is, “A second Michigan instructor withheld a recommendation letter from student headed to Israel.”
The disturbing part is the reason given:
Her email echoed the one that arrived last month in the inbox of Abigail Ingber, another junior at the University of Michigan.
“I am very sorry, but I only scanned your first email a couple weeks ago and missed out on a key detail,” John Cheney-Lippold, a cultural studies professor, wrote to Ingber in early September, upon realizing that the reference was for a program at Tel Aviv University. “As you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine. This boycott includes writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study there.”
The concept that Israel includes Palestinian land is simply not true. As Walid Shoebat has stated, “One day during the 1960s I went to bed a Jordanian Muslim, and when I woke up the next morning, I was informed that I was now a Palestinian Muslim, and that I was no longer a Jordanian Muslim.” Jordan was established to be the Palestinian state. The Palestinians were kicked out of Jordan after they attempted to overthrow its government. The Arab countries have kept them as refugees for generations in order to gin up anger against Israel with the hopes of driving the Jews into the sea. It is unbelievable that our college professors are encouraging this sort of behavior. It’s a shame our college teachers don’t know history. In actuality, the land occupied by Jordan was initially given to Israel.
The article concludes:
Michael Zakim, a cultural historian at Tel Aviv University, argued that the boycott would end up undermining “the Palestinian struggle” by unwittingly supporting forces “determined to delegitimize the humanism and internationalism that predominates on Israeli university campuses.” He labeled as “inanity” some of the means taken to “discredit Israeli academic culture,” such as the refusal to serve as an external reader on a dissertation.
Feisal G. Mohamed, then of the University of Illinois and now at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, responded, saying the boycott didn’t compel each of the actions decried by Zakim. Still, he reasoned, “any and all available means must be used to end an occupation.”
At Michigan, the board of regents declined last year to form a committee to investigate divesting the university’s endowment from companies doing business with Israel, after the student government passed a resolution supporting such a move.
But refusing to throw its weight behind BDS isn’t enough, Secker (Jake Secker) warned. If the university doesn’t take further action to insulate its students from the political actions of their professors, he said, it could have a crisis on its hands.
“This is an epidemic that’s starting to begin,” he said. “Especially being someone who has an Israeli background, I took it personally. It really disturbed me.”
Any university discriminating against students who want to study in Israel should lose all federal and state funding. BDS is not an acceptable policy, and the government should not be funding it.