Study abroad programs in Israel resume for spring semester

By Anthony Rentsch

After suspending all study abroad programs in Israel in August, the University of Massachusetts’ International Risk Management Committee has decided to resume programs to the Middle Eastern state once again for the spring semester.

This decision comes following “the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel” and the revised travel advisory from the U.S. State Department, according to Daniel Fitzgibbons, associate director at the Office of News and Media Relations. The revised travel warning lifted the “nonessential” travel ban to Israel while still warning U.S. travelers against going to certain areas, including the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

“(Exchange programs and study abroad opportunities) benefit students a lot,” Fitzgibbons said. “They gain a lot from experiencing different cultures, especially an older culture like Israel’s. It is a good thing anytime a student goes abroad. This decision expands those opportunities for students.”
Fitzgibbons said the committee suspended all study abroad programs to Israel just before the fall semester began due to the “continuing violence and hostility in the region.”

The fall cancellation affected two students who were planning to study at Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University, but the University reimbursed these students for “nonrecoverable” expenses and provided them help with finding alternate plans for the fall semester, according to a Boston Globe article.

The Globe article also indicated a group of six UMass students and a faculty member had been working on an archaeological dig in the Israel city of Acre over the summer. These students were pulled out of Israel after travel bans to the region, which had been enacted in response to local fighting, were lifted.

Jack Ahern, the vice provost for the International Programs Office and chair of the International Risk Management Committee, said five students plan to spend their spring semesters studying in Israel.

The University’s International Programs Office currently lists nine different study abroad programs in Israel. These programs are affiliated with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Hebrew University Rothberg International School; Tel Aviv University School for Overseas Students; University of Haifa International School; Tel Aviv Engineering School; Technion International School of Engineering; Arava Institute and Bar-Ilan University and the summer Archaeological Field School at the Akko program.

Anthony Rentsch can be reached at [email protected]