Texas professors condemn Israel trip for students

Op-ed piece by Southern Methodist University faculty members calls Christian Zionism 'controversial'

The US and Texas State flags fly over the Texas State Capitol in Austin (photo credit: REUTERS)
The US and Texas State flags fly over the Texas State Capitol in Austin
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Professors at a Texas university have spoken out against a trip to Israel being offered to students, calling the organization's Christian Zionist beliefs "controversial."
"Christian Zionism is a very important tenet for some Christians and churches," Southern Methodist University professors wrote in an op-ed in the school newspaper The Daily Campus.  "However, many other churches and denominations around the world reject it because of the anti-Palestinian views that often accompany it."
The signatories, which included Bible professors in the university's School of Theology, said the goal of the trip is to “convert” its participants to specific political opinions so that it can mobilize them for activism.
As an example, the professors said that by taking the students to see how Israel must constantly defend her borders from the enemies surrounding her, that "even the trip’s proposed itinerary is politicized."
"It is designed not only to take students to standard holy sites but also to expose Israel’s security vulnerability," they said. "Students will visit an Israeli settlement in the West Bank to see how small Israel is from east to west at its narrowest point. They will approach the Syrian and Lebanese borders to learn about the danger of Hezbollah and (presumably) ISIS. To feel the region’s atmosphere of fear, students will even go to the town of Sderot, known as the 'bomb shelter capital of the world' because it is among the most likely places in the country to be hit by rockets fired by Hamas."
Passages Israel said that the purpose of the trip is "to point trip participants to the roots of their biblical faith and to introduce them to the complex landscape of modern Israel, with the goal of building bridges of understanding and friendship between our two countries".
The goal is to cultivate not only an "appreciation of Israeli culture but also support for hardline policies regarding Israel’s relationships with Palestinians and surrounding nations," they wrote.
Also in the op-ed, the SMU professors fail to connect the Palestinian terrorism that has struck Israel even before its establishment, instead placing the blame squarely on the Jewish state.
 "While [the trip's planners] succeed in conveying the sense of pressure and anxiety felt by many Israelis, they generally ignore the experiences and living conditions of Palestinians."
The op-ed was first reported on by Refined Right editor-in-chief Autumn Price, who defines herself as an "unashamed Christian, Republican and Constitutional Conservative."