Given the many suicide bombings and other violence, Drake University officials are suspending all “Study Abroad” programs in Israel, saying they’re obligated to protect the safety of students. The director of Drake’s International Programs, Gretchen Olson, says the university thought it was inappropriate for students to be studying in a place where the U-S government has recommended against travel.Despite harsh warnings from the U-S government for Americans -not- to travel in the Middle East, some Jewish leaders in central Iowa say Drake’s move is “shortsighted” and a victory for terrorists. Olson says Drake is standing by its decision. She says it’s different when the university is using a scholarship to encourage study abroad. She says she won’t criticize individuals who make the decision to travel to Israel.Olson says Drake has suspended awarding or promoting the Arl and Celia Levin Scholarship until there is significant improvement in the situation in Israel. She says they had one student who was hoping to go this summer and one who was interested in going next spring. Olson hopes the situation changes to allow the trip by next spring.The Levin Scholarship covers full tuition and fees for a Drake student to study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. There is one University of Iowa student studying abroad independently in Israel, and U-of-I officials say she is following the advice of the program that is sponsoring her. The U-of-I says her situation continues to be very carefully monitored.
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