Two University students were awarded fellowships by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and they will spend the next year acting as anti-terrorist advocates on campus.
The FDD, a Washington-based think tank, awarded the fellowships to LSA junior Deborah Kim and Engineering senior Avi Jacobson based mainly on their interest in defense against terrorism along with other factors including their grades and activities on campus.
As part of their fellowship, the two students will organize five events with the goal of educating students about the threat of terrorism, the first of which was last night’s vigil in the Diag, which was co-organized with the Michigan Student Assembly. “We’re (also) planning on bringing a variety of speakers and perhaps showing movies. … We want to bring individuals who are involved currently in the effort to write the Iraqi constitution,” Jacobson said.
Kim and Jacobson began their fellowship with a trip to an Israeli naval base this past summer, where they heard speeches from the leader of the Israeli bomb squad. They also attended talks by ambassadors from Turkey and India and members of Israeli military intelligence.
“One of the weaknesses in combating terrorism is applying our own methods of thinking. We assume our own culture upon (the terrorists) whom we are fighting and therefore do not understand what motivates them,” Jacobson said.
Both Kim and Jacobson agree that terrorism is a very loosely defined concept. Kim said, “We should get an international coalition to define exactly what terrorism is … and then we need to ban it.”
“When I graduate, I want to do something in the realm of fighting terrorism. I want to work for a security agency when I graduate. They fight terrorism using ideology,” Kim added.
The FDD is a non-profit organization that aims to research and educate the public about international terrorism.
The organization was formed just after Sept. 11, 2001. “Not only does FDD support defending American democracy, but also our fellow democracies such as India, the Philippines, Turkey and Israel,” said Travis Clark, director of the FDD. The fellowship was awarded to 49 students on 28 campuses.