I studied abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Winter 2010 semester. Yes, I technically had to take a semester off, get my classes pre-approved and transfer my credits. Yes, it was a bit of a hassle. And yes, I had an amazing, life-altering experience. But I never felt that my security was at risk. Not once in the five months I was living there. And that’s coming from someone who lived on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, which is technically behind the green line. I’ll even say that I felt much safer there than I do in the United States.

The fact that the University doesn’t have a study abroad program with an Israeli institution is ludicrous. There’s no more danger there than in any other developed country. I can tell you first-hand, I’ve been to Israel three times for a total of more than seven months — the media seriously over-hypes and blurs the situation there. It’s a peaceful and absolutely beautiful place with the most amazing people, cultures and foods. It’s also a place with many universities that are ranked in the top 100 in the entire world.

Yes, I’m Jewish and proud of it. You can say that makes me biased, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact that Israel truly is the most magical place on the planet. Go there, set aside your political ideologies for a moment and explore the country. Where else can you go skiing, hiking, scuba diving and explore the most historically important sites on Earth in a country that is smaller than the state of New Jersey?

People need to stop basing their viewpoints about Israel from the things they see in the media. The field of vision of a television camera is very narrow, but the field of vision of your eyes is as wide as you can travel.

I’m living proof that a study abroad program in Israel is mandatory for a university that prides itself on cultural understanding and acceptance.

Jacob Steinerman is an LSA junior.

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