Colleges truncate programs in Israel, West Bank due to conflict

Ben Sales

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Several colleges have pulled students out early from summer study-abroad programs in Israel and the West Bank due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Other programs have continued because their students live in Jerusalem and the Palestinian city of Ramallah, which are far from the fighting in Gaza and southern Israel, according to the Associated Press.

But at least seven schools have ended their programs based on State Department travel advisories cautioning against travel to Israel, along with warnings from insurance companies. According to AP, Claremont McKenna College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the University of Iowa, Trinity College, Michigan State, George Mason University and Penn State have all ended programs early. New York University and UMass Amherst also canceled their fall study abroad programs here.

“On the one hand, we want to introduce students to the dimensions of conflict,” said Yehuda Lukacs, director of the Center for Global Education at George Mason, according to AP. “But this was too much because their safety and security were challenged.”

But Brandeis University Jewish history professor Jonathan Sarna, president of the Association for Jewish Studies, said “there are huge gaps between perceptions of safety and reality,” according to AP.