To the Editor:

I agree with David Gershkoff’s column (“Take Israel off travel warnings list”, 1/11). The next step is to change this practice by putting pressure on the State Department via Congress. The State Department warning list is having a deleterious cascade effect on American student involvement with the world in general, not just with Israel. When the State Department says “don’t go,” it creates a lawyer-driven set of fears in universities, which understandably feel the need to protect themselves against parental lawsuits. A better way would be for the State Department to return to its former practice of being extremely sparing in attempting to tell citizens what to do. Americans are at some risk everywhere in the world, but hardly more in Israel than in the United States. The State Department justifiably has its own fears of political reprisal from Congress if Americans are hurt abroad and demand to know why their government did not tell them what to expect. But the State Department’s current approach is damaging this student generation’s engagement with the world.

Charles Hill

Jan. 12, 2005

The writer is diplomat in residence at Yale.