John Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan, has been the subject of withering criticism of late, but I’m grateful to him. Yes, he shouldn’t have refused to write a recommendation for a student merely because the semester abroad program she was applying to was in Israel. But at least he exposed what the boycott movement is about, aspects of which I suspect some of its blither endorsers are unaware.
Member Writings and Interviews
An associate professor in the American Culture program at the University of Michigan refused to write a recommendation for a student, Abigail Ingber, who seeks to study in Tel Aviv. John Cheney-Lippold informed the student, to whom he had said he would write on her behalf, and who he told he would be happy to write for study in other countries, that “many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine.” He explained that “for reasons of these politics, I must rescind my offer to write your letter.”
The past two years have brought a seemingly unending stream of revelations about disparaging comments made by the British Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, about Jews, Zionists, and Israel. But in recent days has come the lowest blow, with the emergence of a video from 2013. Corbyn, in speaking of people who approached the Palestine Liberation Organization representative to the United Kingdom to challenge points he had made in a talk, declared that such Zionists “clearly have two problems. One is that they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony, either.”
In an important essay-length survey, “BDS: How a Controversial Non-Violent Movement Has Transformed the Israeli-Palestinian Debate,” in the Guardian (August 14, 2018), Nathan Thrall, Director of the International Crisis Group’s Arab-Israeli Project, argues that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in recent years has achieved significant influence in reshaping how the conflict is understood and has transformed the debate.
Imagine yourself at the therapist’s office. “Doc,” you say, “there are invisible forces pressing down on me. I’m too weak to save myself!” The therapist replies, “You’re right. The danger is everywhere.” You ask, “What should I do?” The therapist replies, “Hide. But that’s a temporary solution. Unite with other victims and crush the sadistic fascists who run the show. It’s a long shot, but… sorry, our hour is up.”
For many years we’ve been documenting anti-Israel activity on U.S. university and college campuses, typically part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and carried out by student groups like Students for Justice in Palestine.
In these prior posts we’ve described many instances when this Israel-related activism has crossed over the line into blatant anti-Jewish animus, including at schools as diverse as Vassar, Oberlin, and University of Illinois.
“Everything You’ve Heard About Israel’s Nation State Bill is Wrong,” David Hazony observed recently in the Forward, calling out criticism of the Basic law legislation passed in July 2018 as so much “prefabricated outrage” from American Jewish liberals, anti-Zionists and anti-Semites. Writings claiming that the legislation marks “the end of democracy,” he asserted, are just “nonsense,” and he defended the law as a reasoned statement about Israel’s reality, identifying it as neither the product of a right-wing conspiracy nor a harbinger of eroding democracy.
For the past few years, a group of Jewish students have sought to sue administrators at San Francisco State University, alleging that their college has tolerated and buttressed a pervasively hostile anti-Semitic atmosphere. The students claim they have been subjected to anti-Semitic slurs and taunts, and had their campus events disrupted and sabotaged with little to no pushback from campus leadership. Among their more striking pieces of evidence was the deliberate exclusion—conceded by university officials to have been “improper”—of the campus Hillel chapter from a university civil rights information fair.
Why are so many of America’s mainline churches partnering with the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), an anti-Israel organization which allegedly has financial ties to terror groups and is a leader and mobilizer of BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) activism?
As we’ve highlighted in many prior posts, the USCPR has long played an outsized role in advancing a vehemently anti-Israel agenda in America’s Protestant churches.