University of Michigan professor declines to endorse student's Israel trip

Posted at 4:11 PM, Sep 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-19 16:32:48-04

University of Michigan officials have criticized a professor's decision not to recommend a student for a study program in Israel.

The school said in a statement Tuesday it opposes boycotts of Israeli higher education institutions. It adds "injecting personal politics" in decisions related to supporting students "is counter to our values."

Professor John Cheney-Lippold initially said he couldn't write a recommendation letter for junior Abigail Ingber because of an academic boycott against Israel. He later told The Michigan Daily the boycott stance is "personal" and says he's not anti-Semitic.

The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment from Ingber.

Some have called for boycotts over Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Supporters say the boycotts are a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. Israel says it aims to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Kim Broekhuien, spokeswoman for the university, responded with the below statement: 

Injecting personal politics into a decision regarding support for our students is counter to our values and expectations as an institution.

The academic goals of our students are of paramount importance. It is the university’s position to take all steps necessary to make sure our students are supported. In this particular situation, the student has asked that we respect this as a private matter.

While members of the University of Michigan community have a wide range of individual opinions on this and many other topics, the university has consistently opposed any boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education.

No academic department or any other unit at the University of Michigan has taken a stance that departs from this long-held university position.

Information from: The Michigan Daily,