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At 8:55 a.m. on Friday, Pro­fessor of History Paul Rahe received a call from Provost David Whalen about the oppor­tunity for 45 Hillsdale stu­dents to visit Israel for only $500 each. Whalen asked Rahe and Assistant Pro­fessor of Religion Don West­blade to organize the trip. The next day at 11:21 a.m., Rahe sent an email to the entire student body announcing the oppor­tunity and out­lining in detail the nec­essary steps a potential applicant should take to apply.

By Monday morning, Rahe had received what he esti­mated to be near 100 appli­ca­tions. After handing those off to West­blade, he received another 41 by Wednesday.

According to Rahe, there is one main obstacle to the incredible oppor­tunity — the time con­straint, espe­cially con­cerning pass­ports.

“After 9/11, the State Department got very, very careful,” Rahe said. “If you go to the website, which I did before sending the email, it said four to five weeks. Assuming it takes a few days to get one’s act together, we’re not much more than six weeks away from January 3.”  

While the GPA cri­terion for appli­cation con­sid­er­ation was set at 3.0, Rahe said the other factors of the decision are mod­er­ately arbi­trary. Those inter­ested in Chris­tianity and pol­itics, espe­cially Middle Eastern pol­itics, would be more seri­ously con­sidered because of the trip’s applic­a­bility to their field of study. In addition, the accepted stu­dents would ideally be stu­dents who are leaders on campus.

Senior Mattie Van­derBleek heard about the oppor­tunity and started the appli­cation process imme­di­ately.

“I thought it was an amazing oppor­tunity and was very thankful to Dr. Rahe and Dr. West­blade for being so quick to get out the infor­mation and put every­thing together so quickly to let stu­dents know about one of the best oppor­tu­nities I’ve heard of since I’ve been in college,” she said.

Rahe said the trip will avoid the West Bank, not going into heavily con­tested areas for the safety of stu­dents.

“Going to Israel is like going to Chicago or going to Wash­ington, D.C.,” Rahe said. “There are certain neigh­bor­hoods one would be ill-advised to go to. The like­lihood of being on the receiving end of vio­lence in Israel is rather like being on the receiving end of vio­lence if you’re in the Wash­ington Hillsdale Internship Program, which is to say, yes, it can happen. But it’s more likely to happen in some neigh­bor­hoods or at some times than at others.”

The flight will leave New York’s John F. Kennedy Inter­na­tional Airport on Jan. 3 and return on Jan. 15.

The Philos Project, which is funding the trip, is a Christian orga­ni­zation. It received a large amount of money from hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who is Jewish, which enables the orga­ni­zation to send stu­dents to Israel.

“The point of view that one is pri­marily going to encounter is the Israeli point of view,” Rahe said. “So one has to under­stand that and take it with a grain of salt. They’ll have a meeting with a Pales­tinian jour­nalist at one point, so it won’t be entirely one-sided.”

Rahe said the list of accepted stu­dents for the trip will be released early next week.