U.S. College and University Academic Work in Israel

Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

CCAR Resolution on U.S. College and University Academic Work in Israel

Adopted by the CCAR Board of Trustees
June 10, 2009


Over the last several years, the U.S. State Department has repeatedly issued unwarranted and unnecessary travel warnings, discouraging travel to Israel by U.S. citizens and placing restrictions on travel within Israel by U.S. government employees. According to the State Department Web Site, “Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.” Perusing the list of nations about which such Warnings have been issued, one finds a collection of lawless and unstable nations, unlike Israel.1 We have previously called for the removal of all Travel Warnings aimed at Israel.2

Most U.S. colleges and universities understandably maintain policies prohibiting their students from studying abroad in nations covered by U.S. State Department Travel Warnings. Often, these policies extend to faculty, who are often prohibited from using any university funds, including grant monies that pass through the institution, from being used for scholarly work conducted in these countries.

As many colleges and universities have recognized, these academic policies are intended to protect students and faculty, and to protect institutional liability, from harm in countries that are, unlike Israel, fundamentally lawless and unstable. Some universities, including recently the University of California System, have found ways to permit study in Israel while retaining their overall policies with respect to academic work in other countries under State Department Travel Warnings. Students and faculty at other colleges and universities, though, continue to be denied opportunities to study – and, in the case of faculty, to engage in critical scholarly inquiry – in Israel.

Experience has demonstrated time and again that studies abroad have a tremendously positive educational impact on both students and academics and can be personally transformative. Critical scholarship on subjects that can only be studies on the ground in Israel is vital to the growth of knowledge and understanding about our faith and others.

Therefore, Be It Resolved that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

  • Renews its call for the removal of U.S. State Department Travel Warnings aimed at Israel;
  • Calls upon the Obama Administration, and particularly Secretary of State Clinton, to make a priority of removing these Travel Warnings and/or to find other ways to encourage U.S. academic institutions not to impose prohibitions and/or harsh restrictions on study in Israel by students or scholars;
  • Applauds those North American colleges and universities that continue to offer students and faculty the opportunity to study in Israel;
  • Urges colleges and universities that prohibit or severely restrict study in Israel to adopt policies similar to those adopted at other institutions, to open up opportunities for study in Israel;
  • Encourages its members to educate themselves with respect to the universities and colleges with which they are connected – as alumni, faculty, parents, or in their local communities – and to act upon the information learned, applauding institutions that freely permit academic work in Israel and urging others to change their policies.
  • Exhorts its members to educate and encourage their constituents regarding undergraduate and graduate studies opportunities in Israel.
  • 1 U.S. State Department Web Site

    2 CCAR Resolution Encouraging Pilgrimage to Israel by Reform Jews, 2005