Students still studying in Israel despite conflict

It will take more than bullets and bombs to stop Jaclyn Rothenberg from spending a semester in Israel.

Rothenberg, a junior, decided that the recent violence between Israelis and Palestinians will not derail her plans to study abroad. Her flight leaves for Tel Aviv later this month.

“I know it seems pretty crazy to go during a time like this, but really, it’s much more likely I could be hurt in a car accident here than something happening to me there,” Rothenberg said. “I’m not worried, I’m excited.”

Tel Aviv has remained untouched by the fighting in both the northern and southern parts of the country. Many GW students studying at Tel Aviv University still have full intentions of going abroad, as well as the support of GW’s Office of Study Abroad.

“I’m 100 percent still going,” said junior Allison Kind. “What’s happening there now is making me more cautious, but it isn’t stopping me. I want to explore the culture completely and in order to do that, I have to go and be there.”

GW has not made any changes to the programs since the violence erupted in recent weeks.

“We are monitoring the situation and keeping students informed of the latest updates,” said Rob Hallworth, director of the Office of Study Abroad.

Tel Aviv University is also keeping its international students abreast of the situation once they arrive. The university has set up a cell phone system for text message and e-mail alerts to be sent out if extra caution should be taken in a particular area or within the school.

Katy Hirschfield, a junior, has dual citizenship in Israel and the United States, but she has only visited her father’s home country once. A Middle Eastern studies major, she has been planning to spend a semester abroad in Israel for the past two years, but her parents are concerned.

“As of now, I am still going. I don’t have many concerns, but my mom does. Basically she doesn’t want me in a war zone,” Hirschfield said. “I know it’s not peaceful now, but I fell in love with Israel. It just feels like home to me.”

Though the surrounding campus area has not seen violence, exploring the rest of the country may pose security issues concerning public transportation on buses.

“The traveling is probably what most concerns me,” Kind said. “But I’m going there to fully explore the culture and country so if something isn’t safe, I’ll have to work my way around it.”

For Rothenberg, the unrest in the Middle East may be a reason to make the trip now, in case the violence only escalates later.

“Israel was actually my second choice. I originally planned to go to Barcelona, but I changed my mind because the truth is Europe will always be there. Israel might not.”

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