UVA student Ginger Hatfield is an undergraduate fellow with FDD. She recently completed her initial training as an anti-terror/pro-democracy activist which is described at length in an article by Walter Littrell ofThe Kingsport Times-News featured below.
UVA Student Aims to Fight Terrorism, Defend Democracy
By Walter Littrell
The Kingsport Times-News
August 19, 2005
A recent trip to Israel has left a young Ewing native even more determined to do her part to counter terrorism.
Ginger Hatfield, a 2003 graduate of Thomas Walker High School and now a rising junior at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, recently returned from a summer trip to Israel with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Hatfield said the trip was actually a graduate-level seminar, but she went as an undergraduate fellow with another UVA student. In all, she said, 45 students from across the United States made the excursion.
She explained that the foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C., which was formed on Sept. 12, 2001, as a way to defend democracy and defeat terrorism through education.
The foundation advocates three basic principles: that terrorism is never justified, that terrorists are never freedom fighters, and that the democratic way of life is under attack.
The purpose of the trip was to use Israel as a case study in terrorism to illustrate how other democracies fight terrorism, as that nation has been fighting terrorism longer than most other countries.
"We went right to the source," she said. "It was an incredible experience."
The students were based at Tel Aviv University, but during the trip they visited the West Bank, East and West Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, a number of Arab/Israeli and Druze villages, various religious sites, the controversial security fence where they had to go through some of the checkpoints, and even Gilboa Prison in northern Israel.
At the prison, where alleged terrorists are being detained, the students were allowed to visit not only a prison cell, but also with prisoners in an open, weaponless environment.
"They were very brainwashed and contradictory," said Hatfield. "For example, one Hamas terrorist was asked how he could justify killing innocent children. He responded that each Israeli child was a potential soldier. The terrorists try to justify their actions by saying that for every action there is a reaction. They don't see the murder and chaos they create as a conscious effort on their part. They see it as the way things are and that it's inevitable." Read the full article. (site requires registration)