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Letters: Dehumanizing Anti-Semitism at the University of Michigan

The Jewish News and other media outlets have already reported on U-M professor John Cheney-Lippold (“Israel Bias,” Sept. 27, page 18). The professor refused to give an academic letter of recommendation to a student who wanted to study in Israel, with the explanation that “many departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine.”

Sadly, the professor’s refusal to write a letter of recommendation is nothing compared to what U-M student Alexa Smith reported on her Facebook page Oct. 5 (“U-M Lecturer Crosses Line,” Oct. 11, page 16). She was “forced to sit through an overtly anti-Semitic lecture” as a required course. Former Black Panther leader Emory Douglas projected an image of Adolf Hitler and Benjamin Netanyahu together, with the caption “Guilty of Genocide” across their foreheads. Alexa wrote, “In what world is it OK for a mandatory course to host a speaker who compares Adolf Hitler to the prime minister of Israel?”

This blatant act of anti-Israel/anti-Semitism is abominable. “As a Wolverine,” Smith wrote, “I sat through this lecture horrified at the hatred and intolerance being spewed on our campus. As a Jew who is proud of my people and my homeland, I sat through this lecture feeling targeted and smeared to be as evil as the man who perpetuated the Holocaust and systematically murdered 6 million Jews.”

According to Smith, this was not the first time she’s faced such hatred. Two years ago, a speaker at another mandatory art class made references to Israel being a terrorist state and “explicitly claimed that Israeli soldiers were unworthy of being represented as actual human beings in his artwork.”

All American Jews should be disgusted at these examples of what is allowed in American universities such as U-M. Thankfully, there are still young heroes like Alexa, who says she will no longer “sit quietly and allow others to dehumanize my people and my community.” She wrote that because the U-M administration repeatedly fails to confront anti-Semitism, it “comes back worse and worse each time.”

Let all U-M students, alumni and anyone else who cares join with Alexa in her admonition to the university: “A line needs to be drawn and it needs to be drawn now.”

 Arnie Goldman

Farmington Hills

Newsroom

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