Sunday, June 20, 2010
One of my colleagues at the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Law, Assistant Professor Lucian Dervan, recently returned from Israel where he completed a Foundation for Defense of Democracies Academic Fellowship to study counterterrorism issues. The Fellowship gave Professor Dervan a glimpse into Israel’s counterterrorism apparatus as well as access to academics, diplomats and military personnel who provided insights into that country’s daily struggle with terror. During his time in Israel, Professor Dervan traveled to military bases, border zones, and security installations where he watched several military and police units in action. He heard of rocket attacks occuring while he was there and observed the aftermath of many other attacks. He came away believing that Israel's multi-layered approach is largely successful in thwarting potential terrorist attacks. Below right is a memorial at the site of a suicide bombing.
With the United States engaged in its own fight against terrorism, Dervan believes it could learn much from Israel’s experience as a democratic nation that has struggled for decades to balance security with protecting individual freedoms. “The numerous attempted terrorist attacks in the United States since Sept. 11 show us that counterterrorism and national security will continue to become ever more important issues for our country,” said Dervan. “Israel perceives this as a long-term battle that requires multiple fronts for success, including the use of extensive intelligence-gathering networks to avert attacks and mechanisms by which to quickly respond to and alleviate imminent threats,” Dervan said. “As America continues to battle terrorism, we should be aware of the unrelenting nature of the threat and prepare ourselves as terrorists continue in their quest to again strike us on the home front.” (Note: some of these comments are taken from an SIU press release regarding Dervan's visit to Israel.)
Professor Dervan was in Israel during the confrontation between the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and persons aboard the Mavi Marmara, one of the Turkish ships that was part of the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid that attempted to run the blockade of Gaza. Dervan said he received a briefing from a high-ranking Israeli military officer that included video taken by the Mavi Marmara's onboard security cameras throughout its voyage, including footage taken during the confrontation. Dervan stated that the video showed that the IDF initially boarded the ship without deadly weapons drawn, not anticipating armed resistance. However, when some of the passengers put up armed resistance, the situation turned more deadly. (On a related note, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced last Thursday that the Security Cabinet had agreed to ease the blockade of the Gaza Strip.)
Congratulations to Professor Dervan on his Fellowship and best wishes for his future academic success!