CA Public University System Debates Reinstating Israel Study Program
After a nine-year moratorium, the California State University system is currently considering the reinstatement of its study abroad programs to Israel for its 420,000 students across its 23 campuses.
Contention threatens to stall attempts to reinstate the program, as one open letter signed by 127 individuals urges the Chancellor’s Office against reprisal of a study abroad program to Israel, while another letter supports it.
The dissenting letter cites that “prominent intellectuals have compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to Apartheid in South Africa,” and uses this as a basis for refusing students who wish to explore Israel’s rich history.
Most of the opposing signatories were from the California State University in Northridge, but two professors and two alumni from the California State University in Long Beach also signed the letter.
In a response to the letter, the pro-Israeli organization Scholars for Peace in the Middle East responded in support of the motion to restore the Israel programs.
The CSU system once had three study abroad programs to Israel, according to Richard Marcus, associate professor at Cal State Long Beach and director of international studies.
Because of a CSU policy, the programs were stopped as a result of a travel warning issued by the U.S. State Department in 2002.
On July 6, 2002, the U.S. State Department issued the warning because of an increase in violence as a result of the Second Intifada. The warning was issued just six days after a bombing on the campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem that killed five Americans.
The Chancellor’s Office will be sending administrators to Israel over the summer to investigate security in the area, and an approval of the study abroad program would allow students to study in Israel in fall 2012.