Teachers to visit Israel amidst political strife

Sammi Handler

Faculty members will have the opportunity June 13-27 to travel to Israel in the face of political conflict in the Middle East as part of an Immersion Faculty Fellowship.

The program is sponsored by the school’s Gunter Gross Global Fund.

One of the trip organizers, history teacher Dror Yaron, said he is not worried about the security risks, but that they are prepared to make any necessary changes to the itinerary, which currently includes an excursion to Bethlehem in the West Bank, a disputed territory between Israel and Palestine.

Yaron plans to take trip-goers to the Golan Heights, which looks out onto Syria. He said he would not be surprised if they could see smoke in the distance from the civil war right next door to Israel.

“The press makes it seem much more dangerous,” Yaron said. “Once you’re there you really do feel secure. There’s crime here, as well, and here there’s non-political crime. There it’s political, but the murder rate is pretty low. The political crime, if I may be cynical, that may be part of the experience. I think that obviously if there’s a major outbreak of conflict and tension that we would have to alter, if not reconsider, some plans.”

Yaron also added that teachers from all disciplines will be able to develop a more profound appreciation for the complexity of the Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Palestinian relations that they can incorporate into lesson plans to enlighten students. While he said that the material lends itself more to the humanities teachers, science teachers can benefit from seeing Israel’s unique landscapes such as the Ramon Crater, and faculty members in general can come to a better understanding of students, many of whom are Jewish.

“Let’s not forget this school is made up of up to 35, 40 percent Jewish population of various sorts, and so to really appreciate the student body here and aspects of it, I think teachers being exposed to those things will really find it very enriching to interact in a new profound way with their students,” Yaron said.

As of press time, Interdisciplinary Studies Department Head Larry Klein said that they had not yet decided how many teachers will travel to Israel. Yaron said they currently have funding for ten.