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US professor declines to endorse student's Israel trip, citing boycott movement Open in fullscreen

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US professor declines to endorse student's Israel trip, citing boycott movement

University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 September, 2018

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John Cheney-Lippold initially said his university department pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinian rights.

A University of Michigan professor has come under fire from university officials for supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel and declining to recommend a student for a study abroad programme there. 

The school said in a statement on 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 could not write a recommendation letter for junior Abigail Ingber because of an academic boycott against Israel.

"This boycott includes writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study there," he wrote. 

He later told The Michigan Daily the boycott stance is "personal".

Ingber has not immediately responded to a request for comment from AP.

The BDS movement seeks to end Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land captured in the 1967 Middle East war, and discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

It also calls for the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to homes which they or their ancestors were forcibly displaced from during the creation of the Israeli state.

The campaign, founded in 2005, calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli businesses, cultural institutions and universities. 

Its supporters take inspiration from the campaign used by international activists to end apartheid in South Africa by isolating Israel politically, economically and culturally. 

Earlier this month, 20 acts at Israel's Meteor Festival, including headliner Lana Del Rey, withdrew at the last minute after responding to calls from the BDS movement not to perform.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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