I am writing this letter on behalf of the UC students participating in the EAP one-year program in Jerusalem, Israel. I am not the voice of the students, nor do I claim to be. However, I feel this letter represents how the students who wish to remain all feel.
We have been briefed that the UC officers are considering suspending the program. I am begging you not to do that. All of us acknowledge that this is a very troubled time and that your concerns for our safety are well placed. But for some of us here, this year means more than just studying abroad. When we turned in our applications, the Intifada was raging – we knew what we were getting into. For many of us, Israel stands at the core of our belief system, and we are honored to be here in Israel at this time and to show our support by continuing to live here. Dr. Marcum acknowledged in the Contra Costa Times that “among the concerns is that many students in Israel are intent on remaining there even if the university pulls out.” In light of this fact, we can’t help but ask ourselves: why is the UC abandoning us?
The UC system has made returning home early as painless and punishment free as possible. Those students who wished to go home, have gone home, and they are very appreciative of the level of understanding and compassion that the UC system has shown. But we, the remaining students, would like to ask that you continue to let us make our own decisions whether to stay or not. The fact that you have made coming home easy is well appreciated, but some of us don’t want that.
Our lives here are definitely filled with emotional ups and downs. We have stresses in our lives that are unique to our study center. We fear going to certain places at certain times and the sound of every ambulance siren still affects us. With these concerns in our lives, what we need most is not a parental-like decision being forced upon us but the UC system to stand behind us, to support us. We are asking that you stop being yet another stress in our lives, stop contributing to our everyday worries and begin supporting us. If we want to go home, continue to support that, but if we want to stay, support that too. Do not make our lives harder by abandoning us. Stand behind us. Be the institutional support that we are longing for.
Elie Raber is a junior geology major.