By Meagan Singletary
University News Service
July 23, 2008
Texas State University-San Marcos professor William Ruger was recently selected as a 2008-2009 academic fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Ruger, an assistant professor in the political science department, spent June 9-20 in Israel as part of the fellowship. This particular aspect of the program focused on how terrorism threatens democracy.
The program consisted of lectures and discussion by academics, diplomats and military officials from Israel and India as well. The FDD fellows also went on field trips to military, police and civilian governmental facilities throughout Israel.
“We did a variety of things both in the classroom and on field trips, and they all related generally to terrorism and counter terrorism,” said Ruger. “We had seminars, lectures and discussions mostly at Tel Aviv University where we had various Israeli professors and people involved with the study and practice of counter terrorism giving lectures.”
Some of the topics discussed in the lectures were the sources of Islamic terrorism, Iran, Hezbollah, financing terrorism, military intelligence and the war on terrorism.
“There were a lot of field trips as well, and those were some of the best experiences,” said Ruger.
During the program fellows visited a counter terrorism undercover unit, a police bomb squad unit, a prison where terrorists were held and the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem.
At the prime minister’s office they heard a lecture from a senior Israeli government official and a military legal officer.
“It was a really interesting lecture on legal issues in the war on terrorism,” said Ruger. “Specifically how they try to make sure their counter terrorism efforts stay within the parameters of the law and some of the difficulties of conducting these operations and making sure you do it in a proper fashion.”
Participants visited the West Bank and a navy base near the Gaza Strip where they discussed some of the issues dealing with the sea being used by terrorist organizations, as well as some of the particular issues dealing with Gaza itself.
They also saw the controversial wall separating Israel from the Palestinian territories. “It’s not always a wall. I think Americans have the conception that it’s one big wall like the Berlin Wall, but in a lot of places it seems like it was a very sophisticated fence system with sensors,” said Ruger.
The FDD is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides education on different aspects of terrorism and counter terrorism and how democracies defend themselves against such things. The FDD produces independent analyses of global terrorist threats that explore the historical, cultural, philosophical and ideological factors that drive terrorism and threaten freedoms in democratic societies. This organization was founded after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by a group of philanthropists and policymakers.
Ruger has only been teaching at Texas State for a year but is already representing the university in a positive way to the rest of the nation and the world.
“I was there representing Texas State and it helps when faculty are involved in these types of gatherings. I’m sure it will help Texas State to have professors engaged not just here on campus but around the globe,” he said. “It was a great learning experience.”