A gunman killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday and on Monday, the University of Michigan held a town hall on the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement aimed at punishing companies that do business with Israel, according to Campus Reform. Yeah, PROBABLY not the best optics. Let’s check it out.
UMich held an event that bills itself as an explainer on the BDS movement. It says “what is BDS? And why does it matter?” You’d think you might get a definition and maybe hear from both the pro and anti-divestment sides of the aisle. But if you take a look at those three little names there, they are all coincidentally anti-Israel activists who support the movement.
Let’s start with Susan Abulhawa. She makes very nuanced, mild-mannered posts like one saying “death to Israel.”
Then there’s Tom Pessah, who used to serve on the board of UC Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine, where he wrote a BDS resolution. He also supported a hunger strike led by this bloke, Marwan Barghouti who led the Palestinian Authority and founded the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, both of which have perpetrated terrorist attacks on Israelis.
And the third speaker UMich hosted was Huwaida Arraf, who helped found the International Solidarity Movement, a group that has allegedly provided shelter for terrorists attempting to flee Israeli law enforcement and dispatched activists to assume the role of human shields.
Huwaida also co-authored an op-ed, saying “the Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent.” Looks like violence is perfectly OK, so long as you’re part of the group that’s “oppressed.”
FIFA Soccer Game Racist? These Profs Think So
University of Michigan prof John Cheney-Lippold and Oakland University prof Sam Srauy argued in a study that “realism — as a design strategy — can invite platform racism into seemingly neutral code,” according to Campus Reform.
EA Sports, the developer for the FIFA video game, uses data reviewers who watch real-life soccer players and then assign scores to these players’ in-game avatars. The study’s co-authors found that these reviewers rated black athletes as stronger and more aggressive than white or Hispanic ones on average.
The professors said “Black and Latino characters tend to be overly represented in sports related video games. Moreover, this overrepresentation tends to be [in] avenues where white fantasy of supposedly extraordinary black physical ability is expressed and exploited for white enjoyment.”
Supposedly extraordinary? Are you telling me that there might be a reason other than physical prowess for why black athletes are overrepresented in some sports like basketball and football? Hey, maybe I’m a victim of discrimination.
So while John and Sam took the higher aggression and strength scores for black athletes as a sign of racism in FIFA, they were a bit surprised to find how the data reviewers scored athletes for another stat: vision, which was a stand-in for intelligence and knowledge of soccer.
They said “The mean vision score for blacks was significantly lower than either whites or Latinos. However, there was no statistically significant difference between the vision scores of whites and Latinos,” something they argued “runs contradictory to the predominant racist belief.”
UMich Punishes Anti-Israel Prof
UMich American Studies professor John Cheney-Lippold has stood by his decision to go BACK on his decision to write a recommendation for student Abigail Ingber to study in Israel. He’d told Abigail “as you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine.”
But it is actually against UMich policy for departments to divest from or boycott Israel. Cheney-Lippold now says he slipped up because he was doing departmental business around the same time he wrote that email and that he meant to say that “many university professors,” not departments, are boycotting Israel, reported Jewish News Syndicate.
He also said that the Palestinian infant mortality is three times higher than that of Israelis, linking it to apartheid, which makes me curious: does that mean America is also an apartheid state? That black infant mortality rate is nearly three times higher than the Asian one. And here’s another factor: if Cheney-Lippold had just written the recommendation and let Abigail study in Israel, maybe she would come back as a BDS advocate, maybe she’d a return a newly-minted social justice warrior.
Anyway, the University of Michigan has now decided that John will not receive a merit raise for this school year and will not be able to take his planned sabbatical in January or embark on one for two years, according to The Detroit News.
UMich interim dean Elizabeth Cole said “Your conduct has fallen far short of the University’s and College’s expectations for how LSA faculty interact with and treat students….This letter is a strong warning that your behavior in this circumstance was inappropriate and will not be tolerated.”
A second UMich teacher, this time TA Lucy Peterson, also went back on her decision to recommend a student to study at Tel Aviv University, reported The Washington Post. She said “I’m so sorry that I didn’t ask before agreeing to write your recommendation letter, but I regrettably will not be able to write on your behalf….Along with numerous other academics in the US and elsewhere, I have pledged myself to a boycott of Israeli institutions as a way of showing solidarity with Palestine.”
UMich told Campus Reform that since both Peterson and the individual to whom she denied a recommendation were students, “the university is precluded by federal law from discussing” the incident.
Prof Won’t Write Israel Study-Abroad Rec.
University of Michigan professor John Cheney-Lippold recently agreed to write a recommendation letter for one of his students, Abigail Ingber, but then changed his mind after learning that Abigail was going to be studying in Israel, reported Campus Reform. He said “as you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine. This boycott includes writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study there.”
And the professor apparently sent this email a couple of weeks after agreeing to write a recommendation. But it gets worse for Abigail:
“I should have let you know earlier, and for that I apologize. But for reasons of these politics, I must rescind my offer to write your letter.” For reasons of these politics…I thought academia was supposed to be one of the only institutions that was divorced from politics, teaching people how to think, not what to think. And apparently Cheney-Lippold wasn’t even acting in line with the rest of his school.
Rick Fitzgerald, a University of Michigan assistant vice president, said that the school “has consistently opposed any boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education,” and that “no academic department or any other unit at the University of Michigan has taken a position that departs from this long-held university position.”
He went on to call the decision to let politics influence the amount of help a professor gives students “disappointing”. And what about poor Abigail? She hasn’t publicly commented yet, but she might not get to study in Israel because of this.