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Israel studies on campus are growing, report shows

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 NEW YORK (JTA) — A new report shows that the study of Israel at major American universities has grown significantly.

The report by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, titled "Searching for the Study of Israel: A Report on the Teaching of Israel on U.S. College Campuses 2008-09," updates a similar report conducted in 2006.

The new report looked at 300 leading American universities and found a 69 percent growth in courses that focus specifically on Israel over the three-year period between 2006 and 2009.

Among other findings, according to a release from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, which commissioned the report: 

* Of the top 20 national universities in U.S. News and World Report rankings in 2008-09, all but one offered courses focused on Israel, while 12 — more than half — offered four courses or more. In 2006, five offered no courses focused on Israel and only three offered four courses or more.

* Of the 316 schools in the 2008-09 directory, 90 percent offered at least one course that dealt in part with Israel and nearly half offered four or more courses.

* A total of nearly 1,400 courses with Israel content were offered by the 316 schools, with 572 of those courses specifically focused on Israel.

“Our foundation has been deeply invested in expanding opportunities to learn about Israel in academic environments that invite thoughtful discussion free from bias and intimidation,” said Lynn Schusterman, chair of the Schusterman Foundation, a major supporter of on-campus Israel study programs. “I am gratified to see a growing commitment to the study of Israel, in all its richness and complexity, taking root in classrooms across the U.S.”

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