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Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center
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Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center

The Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center for Near-Eastern Studies is a study center for Brigham Young University situated on Mount Scopus in East Jerusalem. The center teaches curriculum concerning the Middle East, and Hebrew and Arabic language courses. The center is currently and indefinitely closed to students because of the continuing Second Intifada and its complications against ensuring security.

History

Brigham Young University began its Jerusalem study program in 1968, first at the City Hotel in East Jerusalem. After four years, the students were moved to the Vienna Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah. In 1978, the program relocated to dormitory facilities in Kibbutz Ramat Rachel.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints finally bought a plot of land on Mount Scopus, and construction for the BYU Jerusalem Center began in 1984. Because of its prominent location in the Jerusalem skyline, construction was quickly noticed, and this sparked a major controversy in Israel and in the Jewish world as a whole, leading to careful diplomatic negotiations between the Church and Jewish leaders, to ensure that the LDS Church would not use the Center as a base to proselytize in the Jewish State. Eventually this dispute was settled, and the Center opened to students in 1987, and the building was dedicated for Church use in 1989. As part of the agreement, students are forbidden to mention that they are affiliated with any religion. If asked, they are requested to remain silent.

Since then, the BYU Jerusalem Center has been a tourist attraction as well as a study center. The Center developed a tradition of hosting musical concerts on Sunday nights, which became frequented by elite Israeli musicians, transforming the Center's reputation as a center of cultural as well. The Center is also known for hiring both Israelis and Palestinians on their staff.

After the onset of the Second Intifada, security for BYU students in Israel-Palestine became increasingly harder to secure, and the Center closed indefinitely to students in 2002.

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