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Falwell's University to Send Students to Israel

September 26, 1998|Religion News Service

The Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University will send 3,000 of its students to Israel in January for a religious studies tour that is an outgrowth of Falwell's close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Falwell has consistently supported Netanyahu's hard-line position on turning over additional land to the Palestinians as part of the Middle East peace process. At the same time, the Israeli leader has gone out of his way to cultivate Falwell and other conservative American Christian leaders who have the ear of Republican congressional leaders.

Basing his beliefs on a fundamentalist interpretation of the New Testament, Falwell says Israel should not surrender land to the Palestinians because the Holy Land must be under Jewish control if Jesus is to return to Earth.

Falwell has led 26 student pilgrimages to Europe since he founded the university in 1971. The Israel trip will be his largest. Participants in the tour will be drawn from the 5,700 students on Liberty's campus in Lynchburg, Va., and 7,000 enrolled in off-campus programs.

The tour will visit sites important to Christians in Israel, such as Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, and in areas of the West Bank controlled by the Palestinian Authority, such as Bethlehem.

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