Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski has been accepted as an Academic Fellow for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. As part of this prestigious position, Dobkowski will travel to Israel where he will participate in an intensive course about terrorism, with an emphasis on finding ways for countries to fight terrorist threats from around the world.
Dobkowski, with 31 participants from across the United States and Europe, will spend over a week studying at the University of Tel Aviv, at the school’s academic center for the study of terrorism. The program includes three full days of seminars and lectures given by military and intelligence officials and diplomats, followed by six days of hands-on experiences.
“I’ve done research and writing on terrorism, but have never actually been on the ground and had the opportunity to speak to people who are on the frontline, people involved in both security and anti-terrorist activity,” says Dobkowski. “To actually see with my own eyes the frontline of terrorism – that is not an opportunity most college professors receive.”
On his itinerary are also excursions to the borders of Gaza, Lebanon and Egypt, as well as briefings with the U.S. and Jordanian ambassadors to Israel. Dobkowski will also meet with high ranking officials at the offices of the Israeli Prime Minister, visit a prison where many convicted terrorists are held, and take tours of facilities for immigration, military bases and customs offices.
Although the trip only lasts for 10 days, the program extends well beyond the short trip to Israel and Dobkowski believes it will have an impact on his future as a researcher and professor. “The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has already connected me with resources and reading matter for the entire year,” explains Dobkowski. The author of many articles and opinion pieces on terrorism, he believes the opportunity will prepare him for public lectures and within the academic community. Where his research has allowed him to speak theoretically and academically, he hopes this program will allow him to speak pragmatically.
“I’m very excited; this is a once in a lifetime experience,” remarks Dobkowski. “I’m going in with a totally open mind, and I can’t imagine that each day won’t be packed with new information and insight.”
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a nonpartisan policy institute dedicated exclusively to promoting pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that threaten democracy. The foundation was established shortly after 9/11 by a group of visionary philanthropists and policymakers to support the defense of democratic societies under assault by terrorism and militant Islamism.