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UC recalls students from Israel

By David Scharfenberg Daily Planet staff
Wednesday April 03, 2002

The University of California has pulled the plug on its study abroad program in Israel, citing concerns about escalating violence in the Middle East. 

“Safety is the number one priority,” said UC spokesman Hanan Eisenman. 

Eisenman said the decision will affect 27 students, including eight UC Berkeley students, studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the University of Tel Aviv, and Ben Gurion University in the southern city of Be’er Sheva.  

Twenty-eight other students have already voluntarily returned to the United States this year, according to the university. 

UC has also decided to put its fall 2002 program on hold, pending improvements in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Eisenman said the university plans to continue the program at a later date. 

“We’re not abandoning this program at all,” he said. 

UC is leaving staff and program infrastructure in place to prepare for the eventual return of students. 

Eisenman said the university cannot force students to return, but is strongly recommending the move and will provide financial and transportation support as needed. 

Those who stay will not have access to the Israeli universities. But, like those who return, they will be able to finish their courses through an “independent study” program and receive full credit. 

“Both ways, we’re going to work as hard as we can to facilitate this,” Eisenman said. 

UC has suspended study abroad programs before. In recent years, the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, the Gulf War in the Middle East and the 1999 civil uprisings in Indonesia have all temporarily halted UC study abroad programs. 

This year, UC did not permit students to study in India during the spring semester because of increasing hostilities between India and Pakistan. 

According to a UC statement, the University of Washington and the University of Colorado have already recalled their students from Israel this year.