July 27, 2006 | Press Release

FDD Undergraduate Fellows to Depart for Israel to Study How Democracies Defend Against Terrorism

Program includes visits to security installations, meetings with terrorism experts, diplomats and government officials

Washington, D.C. (July 27, 2006) – The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) said today that, despite Hezbollah's ongoing rocket attacks against communities in northern sections of the country, it will continue with its annual undergraduate fellowship visit to Israel to study how democracies defend themselves against terrorism.

The program, now in its fifth year, will include approximately 40 undergraduate students from American universities.  They will depart on Saturday, July 29 and return on August 13, 2006.

“After evaluating the security situation, discussing our options with our academic partner, security personnel in Israel, and our students, we determined that we can provide a safe and educational opportunity in the current environment,” said David Silverstein, Vice President of Campus Programs for FDD.

“While Hezbollah's attacks will prevent us from including some learning experiences the program has included in the past, such as a visit to the northern border to see Hezbollah camps, we believe those limitations will be outweighed by the opportunity for the students to examine, up close and in real time, how Israel is defending itself against Hezbollah's unprovoked terrorist attacks,” Silverstein said.

For the 2006-07 academic year, FDD selected 46 fellows out of an applicant pool of 185.  Most of the students supported the decision to continue with the trip, including 24 who signed a student-organized petition to FDD.  Their petition read:

“In the midst of the current conflict in the Middle East and the rise of casualties inside Israel, the FDD Fellows realize the pressure the organization may be under to postpone, or even cancel, the Israel trip. As FDD fellows we have discussed this possibility. We, however, wish to express our trust in FDD and its ability to make sound judgments to keep us safe during our trip. Indeed, many of us feel that FDD's mission to educate us regarding the defense against terrorism may be even better accomplished now than a trip during times of less unrest.”

FDD expects approximately 40 students to depart on Saturday.

While in Israel, the students will be based at Tel Aviv University.  The course of study features lectures from experts in the field of terrorism on issues relating to the threat that terrorism poses to democracies around the world.  The students also hear from academics, political leaders, intelligence and military officials, and diplomats from Israel, Jordan, India, Turkey and the United States. 

The program includes numerous field visits, including trips to military bases, police facilities, government offices, and prisons housing terrorists.  Students also participate in training exercises to learn more about the practical realities of combating terrorists.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute focused exclusively on promoting pluralism, defending democratic values and fighting the ideologies that drive terrorism.  Formed just weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, FDD uniquely combines policy research, democracy and counterterrorism training, strategic communications and investigative journalism in support of these goals.  For more information, please visit www.defenddemocracy.org.