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CSU considers restoring Israel program

Kasia Hall, City Editor

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Students in the Cal State University system are encouraged to apply for a yearlong study abroad program to Israel for the 2012-13 academic year — a program that has yet to be reinstated.

The CSU used to have three study abroad programs to Israel, according to Richard Marcus, associate professor at Cal State Long Beach and director of international studies. 

All programs were halted in 2002 because the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning. 

In 2002, the Second Intifada, or second Palestinian uprising, brought an increased period of Israel-Palestinian violence to the region. The travel warning was issued on July 6, 2002, six days after a bombing on the campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem that killed five Americans. 

“CSU policy prohibits travel to countries that are subject to travel warnings,” CSU spokesman Erik Fallis said via email. “The policy does allow for exceptions.”

Since the CSU started thinking about reinstating the program, the Chancellor’s Office has received two letters: one in support of reinstating the program and one against. 

An open letter, signed by 127 individuals, urged the Chancellor’s Office not to reinstate the program. The letter makes six points not to reinstate the program, including the 2002 U.S. State Department travel warning, safety concerns in addition to the travel warning and citing “prominent intellectuals have compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to Apartheid in South Africa.”

‘The letter is mostly signed by Northridge faculty and students, but two CSULB professors, Sherna Gluck and Dennis Kortheuer from the history department, as well as two CSULB alumni have signed the letter. 

In response to this letter, a group called Scholars for Peace in the Middle East wrote a response saying they “applaud the chancellor and the Board of Trustees of the California State University System for their decision to reinstate the International Program to Israel.”

However, no decision regarding the program has been made yet and the Chancellor’s Office is still investigating security in the area, according to Fallis. In addition to sending Charlene Minnick, assistant vice chancellor for risk management and public safety, and Leo Van Cleve, director of international programs to Israel, to look at security over the summer, the CSU hired an outside consultant Salamanca Group to assess security in Israel. 

The deadline to apply for the yearlong study abroad program to Israel is Thursday. Fallis said no timetable has been set for a decision on the program. If the program were approved, students would be studying in Israel starting in fall 2012.

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