Volume 95, Issue 95

Thursday, March 4, 2002
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Mideast violence hurts universities

Science happy, arts not so happy

The chem lab, the chem lab, the chem lab was on fire

Soon more places to have sex in library

Students fly high

Last Chance U. has cheetahs

Silly colleges, trying to be more like us

News Briefs

Mideast violence hurts universities

U of T student flees bombing

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff

Western's study abroad program with Hebrew University in Jerusalem is in jeopardy as the conflict in the Middle East heightens and international students flee universities across Israel.

Currently, there are no Western students attending Hebrew, the only university in the Middle East Western has an exchange program with, said Holly Hill-Pero, Western's exchange co-ordinator.

She said the program is indefinitely suspended and under review due to safety concerns.

Avi Denburg, a third-year University of Toronto history, philosophy and political science student, abandoned his exchange at Hebrew University two weeks ago at the request of his parents when conflict between Israelis and Palestinians began to worsen.

"A lot of what is going on [in Jerusalem] really hits close to home. We could hear bombs going off 100 metres from the dorm and you could hear things going on in Ramallah, which is less than six miles away," Denburg told The Gazette yesterday.

Denburg said he is unsure if he will lose his semester. Currently, he is in negotiations with university administration who may allow him to complete his year through correspondence.

If his parents had not lobbied him to come home when they did, Avi said he would have stayed in the country longer.

"You sort of learn to live with [conflict]. You rationalize [leaving your house] to some degree. You rationalize where they may or may not bomb on that particular night. We'd go out and we'd be lucky," he said.

"Once they started hitting all the spots we thought were 'safe,' we realized there was nowhere safe to go anymore," Denburg said, referring to the March bombing of a cafe he and his friends frequented.

Denburg said his fellow students at Hebrew were a mix of international and local students and noted it was difficult to leave his life and friends abroad behind, many of whom are now being drafted by the Israeli army.

"It's different when you read about it in black and white – it takes the emotion out of it. Now I'm not afraid to go out and get a slice of pizza, I don't have to worry about having my bag checked for bombs," he said.

Michael Lynk, an assistant professor of law at Western and expert in Middle East conflict, said the unpredictability of the conflict will determine the shaky future of exchange programs to universities there.

"Hebrew University has a considerable reputation intellectually and scholastically. I'm sure what is going on now is going to detract from their ability to attract students and faculty," Lynk said. "It is a danger zone that doesn't show any signs of abating."

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Copyright The Gazette 2002