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ZOA to Univ. of Michigan: Professor Imposing his Pro-BDS Agenda on a Student Must Be Condemned and Sanctioned

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called on the University of Michigan’s President and Board of Regents to publicly condemn and severely sanction Professor John Cheney-Lippold after he rescinded an offer to write a letter of recommendation for a deserving student, simply because the student planned to study at a university in Israel.

“If the University leaders fail to take action against Cheney-Lippold, then they will be sending the message to him and to the rest of the faculty that they are free to use their power to violate students’ academic freedom.” 

In a September 21, 2018 letter to University of Michigan President Mark S. Schlissel and the Board of Regents, the ZOA described Cheney-Lippold’s numerous violations of University policies, which expressly prohibit (1) discriminatory conduct that “is used as the basis for or a factor in decisions affecting” an individual’s education; and (2) faculty conduct that “hinders other members of the community in the exercise of their . . . academic freedoms.”  In addition, Cheney-Lippold violated the University’s policy – made clear by both the President and the Regents – which “strongly opposes” the boycott of academic institutions in Israel.

Morton A. Klein, ZOA’s National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, urged the University leadership to take strong and decisive action against Cheney-Lippold:  “The University’s leadership expressed its disappointment in Cheney-Lippold’s actions, but that’s not enough.  President Schlissel and the Board of Regents must publicly condemn Cheney-Lippold for violating the University’s policies, and severely sanction him for his wrongdoing.

“Cheney-Lippold cannot be allowed to impose his political agenda on students to impede them from pursuing the academic opportunities of their choosing.  If the University leaders fail to take action against Cheney-Lippold, then they will be sending the message to him and to the rest of the faculty that they are free to use their power to violate students’ academic freedom and stand in the way of students studying what they want and where they want.

“In evaluating Cheney-Lippold’s actions, we strongly urged the University’s leaders to be mindful of the decision recently issued by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the ZOA’s case against Rutgers University, alleging a hostile campus environment for Jewish students in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.  OCR made it clear that in assessing whether conduct is motivated by anti-Semitic bias, OCR will now using the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, which recognizes that sometimes anti-Israel sentiment is a camouflage for anti-Semitism.  One Regent already called out Cheney-Lippold’s action as anti-Semitic, and we agree with that assessment.  It would truly be a disgrace if the University permits such bigotry to go unpunished.”

Read JN coverage of the incident

About the ZOA

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA educates the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing Arab war against Israel. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.- Israel relations through educational activities, public affairs programs and our work on Capitol Hill, and to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, in schools and on college campuses. Under the leadership of such presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, Rabbi Stephen Wise, and current President Morton A. Klein, the ZOA has been – and continues to be – on the front lines of Jewish activism. www.zoa.org. For more information contact Morton A. Klein 212-481-1500.