HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Some U.S. colleges are pulling students from overseas study programs in Israel as the Gaza war rages, raising concerns that schools may be overreacting.
Security was the top worry, according to the colleges. The schools cited advisories about hazardous travel from the U.S. State Department and from insurance companies that cover students there.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst, Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and other schools left when flights were temporarily halted to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport in July. School officials said they were concerned that students and staff in summer programs could have been stranded.
UMass Amherst and New York University have called off their fall programs.
Jonathan Sarna, president of the Association for Jewish Studies, told the AP he questions whether universities overreacted, said that most of Israel was protected by a sophisticated anti-missile system and military superiority over Hamas.
Schools should act on reality, not perceptions in the media, Sarna said.
NYU issued the following statement Thursday:
“Like other universities around the country, including some that have shortened their summer programs or suspended their fall classes, NYU made its decision to suspend its fall courses after careful deliberation. The university was approached by some students and their families who expressed concern about the situation in the region and asked if NYU would be going forward with its fall courses in Tel Aviv. The safety of these 10 students was our foremost concern in our deliberations about whether or not to disrupt the academic program. While this was not an easy decision to make, by doing so we were able to work with them to find alternative programs for the fall. We look forward to resuming classes at the Tel Aviv site in January.”
As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, some youth plan to go to Israel and have no fear about it. Talia Markowitz, 15, will be in Israel at a friend’s bar mitzvah before the end of this year.
“I’m not more concerned than I’d be here in New York City,” she said.
Some NYU students also want to go, but are being denied. But Rabbi Yahuda Sarna, who heads NYU’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, supports the university’s action and called it prudent.
“I certainly think that NYU made the decision that’s right for it,” Sama said.
State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), however, called the trend knee-jerk over-reacting.
“There was no need for this. There was no purpose for this,” Hikind said. “First of all, we’re talking about adults. If the students don’t want to go to Israel, study in the program, or be in the program, they won’t go.”
Hikind predicted the universities calling off overseas programs in Israel will be shown up by the many young Americans who go to Israel this fall anyway without incident.
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