Update: 7/28/06: BYU will not re-open Jerusalem Center this fall.
Despite the havoc over in Israel, it appears that the BYU Jerusalem Center is still a go. The Daily Herald reports:
BYU is still planning to send students to its Center for Near Eastern Studies in Jerusalem in the fall but is keeping an eye on violence in and around Israel.
Brigham Young University spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said plans are proceeding to send a smaller group of students than usual to the center after scaling back activities there after fighting began in 2000. “We are, however, of course closely monitoring the situation,” she said.
The school stopped sending students to the center in 2001.
BYU announced the decision on June 8 to take students back to the center, and the deadline for applications was July 7. Forty-four students have been selected from more than 125 applicants, and they will receive their acceptance letters in the mail this week, Jenkins said. Previous programs brought as many as 300 students at a time to the center.
In June, BYU said the decision to reopen the program was made after consulting with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns BYU. A news release said, “Future programs will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis with due consideration to the political and security environments in the region.”
The center has remained open since students left, hosting visitors for concerts, workshops and tours. Students returning in the fall are scheduled to study biblical and historical sites in Israel, ancient and modern Near Eastern history, modern Near Eastern languages and the Old and New Testaments.
Of course, the reason BYU stopped sending students in the first place back in 2001 was Middle East instability. I’m not sure I’d sign up for that semester abroad in Jerusalem just now. I’d be surprised if BYU lets the Center actually reopen. The only thing worse than being in Israel these days, is being an American in Israel. My prediction is that unless things get much better, sooner rather than later, that BYU will delay the Center’s reopening.
Update 7/19/06 4:40 p.m.: A couple of quick notes. Here’s another short article from KSL News. Also, here’s the official pronouncement from BYU. Call me crazy; but, I’m thinking if I’m a student signing up to return over there, these classes better have some heavy duty extra credit toward graduation.