PROVO — Highland's Bryan Bozung wanted to spend a semester at Brigham Young University's Jerusalem Center, but when he enrolled at BYU, the center had been closed due to violence in the region.

When the Jerusalem Center reopened in 2007, Bozung was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California. He finally learned last year he had landed a spot at the center this semester, but then Palestinian rockets began to fly into the Gaza Strip in late December — about a week before he and 79 other students were scheduled to leave for Israel.

"We were pretty sure they wouldn't go," said Bill Bozung, Bryan's father, "but BYU was very confident in sending them. If anything, they're overcautious of the students there, which he appreciates. My son is very comfortable over there."

Bryan Bozung and other students who have studied at the center in the past two years say BYU's security and the location of the center make them feel completely safe while they learn invaluable lessons about both the Holy Land and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

BYU students were hardly aware of the Gaza war, he said, though they once were surprised by a test of air-raid sirens in Jerusalem. Center officials don't allow students within range of the rockets, which can't reach the Mount of Olives, where the center is located, some 40 miles from the Gaza Strip. Even if the rockets had the range, all agree they wouldn't be aimed toward the center.

"The Jerusalem Center is surrounded by Palestinian neighborhoods," Bill Bozung said, "and the Dome of the Rock is one of the holiest sites to Muslims."

Parents also feel at ease because each student has a cell phone equipped with a GPS device so they can be located, Bill Bozung said. The cell phones also help Jerusalem Center officials instantly communicate warnings.

Brian Bozung was with a group of BYU students in East Jerusalem last month when a demonstration erupted. Almost immediately, the students received a mass text message telling them to leave the area.

Returned students said they felt 100 percent safe at the Jerusalem Center.

Scott Nibley, 27, is a senior from Centerville studying English and Hebrew. "I felt as far from Gaza as I do now," Nibley said Wednesday after attending a lecture by Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann on the BYU campus. "BYU's security staff is incredible, and the center is in an isolated area. If the situation got 20 times more extreme, students would still be safe."

Nibley and 19-year-old sophomore Maurine Westover said the Jerusalem experience greatly enhanced their understanding of the region's complexities.

"Putting faces to both sides of the conflict really changed the way I looked at it," said Westover, a microbiology major from Buford, Ga. "Israel has the right to security, and the Palestinians have the right to the dignity of having their own country."

long class at BYU. He told more than 100 students Wednesday that the Obama administration can't hesitate to attempt to broker peace or the opportunity for a two-state resolution to the conflict might soon become impossible.

Seidemann was asked by President Bill Clinton and Israel's president in 2000 to draw the maps for a solution. It is still doable, he said, but not for much longer.

"The geography and demography of Jerusalem and greater Jerusalem will be so checkered and so dismembered," Seidemann said, "that Israelis and Palestinians will become Siamese twins that will not allow the political separation that is necessary in order to reach closure, in order to solve this conflict."

Seidemann visited friends in Washington, D.C., last week to deliver that message.

"I told my friends in the Obama administration that putting this conflict on the back burner is not an option," he said.

Jerusalem Center students heard a similar opinion last week from Alon Liel, former director general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Liel said the United States must act as a powerful third party to push the sides together, according to a report in the Daily Universe by a student at the center.

Students also heard from an official from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv on Jan. 13.

"The world has had an enormous amount of experience about how to divide cities in war and how to unite them in peace," Seidemann said Wednesday. "It doesn't have a lot of experience on how to divide a city in peace without mortally wounding its soul."

The thorny problem now has the outline of a resolution crafted since 2000, he said. American will and credible Israeli and Palestinian leaders are needed.

"We know that the Israeli public will accept this," Seidemann said. "We know that the Palestinians will accept it. And we know it will work and allow Jerusalem to begin this healing process. What we don't know is how to get there. We are living in a period with a horrible chasm between the politically possible and the historically inevitable."

Seidemann spoke at the Jerusalem Center last year and said he found it striking.

"It is the most stunning modern structure in Jerusalem," he said. "It is a pearl. It is a gem. It's on the crest of the Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City. It is literally overlooking God's little acre."

This week, Seidemann is teaching a half-credit, weeklong class at BYU. He told more than 100 students Wednesday that the Obama administration can't hesitate to attempt to broker peace or the opportunity for a two-state resolution to the conflict might soon become impossible.

Seidemann was asked by President Bill Clinton and Israel's president in 2000 to draw the maps for a solution. It is still doable, he said, but not for much longer.

"The geography and demography of Jerusalem and greater Jerusalem will be so checkered and so dismembered," Seidemann said, "that Israelis and Palestinians will become Siamese twins that will not allow the political separation that is necessary in order to reach closure, in order to solve this conflict."

Seidemann visited friends in Washington, D.C., last week to deliver that message.

"I told my friends in the Obama administration that putting this conflict on the back burner is not an option," he said.

Jerusalem Center students heard a similar opinion last week from Alon Liel, former director general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Liel said the United States must act as a powerful third party to push the sides together, according to a report in the Daily Universe by a student at the center.

Students also heard from an official from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on Jan. 13.

"The world has had an enormous amount of experience about how to divide cities in war and how to unite them in peace," Seidemann said Wednesday. "It doesn't have a lot of experience on how to divide a city in peace without mortally wounding its soul."

The thorny problem now has the outline of a resolution crafted since 2000, he said, adding that American will and credible Israeli and Palestinian leaders are needed.

"We know that the Israeli public will accept this," Seidemann said. "We know that the Palestinians will accept it. And we know it will work and allow Jerusalem to begin this healing process. What we don't know is how to get there. We are living in a period with a horrible chasm between the politically possible and the historically inevitable."

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