February 14, 2006

HARRISONBURG—The Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University hosted a luncheon briefing today for JMU faculty by Ram Sidi, a veteran member of the Israeli counter-terrorism establishment.

While serving as a team commander with a still-classified undercover unit of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Sidi participated in scores of operations to prevent attacks against Israeli military personnel and civilians by Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorists. Following his compulsory military service, Ram served as for 16 years with IDF counter-terror units in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, including operational activities in Nablus, Ramallah, Tulkarem, and other cities under Palestinian Authority control during both the first and second intifadas. His military training included advanced coursework in the use of small arms and explosives, hand-to-hand-combat, covert infiltration and intelligence gathering, hostage rescue operations, and emergency field medicine. Now in civilian life, Sidi serves as a consultant and operational field advisor to the Israeli Border Police. Granted unique access to convicted Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah terrorists under the control of the Israeli Corrections Service, Sidi studies and lectures on the motivations and goals of these Palestinian terrorist groups.

Nelson Institute director Dr. J. Peter Pham met Sidi in Israel last summer when the Israeli was assigned as the liaison officer for the group of American academics studying counter-terrorism.

In addition to Dr. Pham, other participants in the briefing included Dr. David A. Jeffrey, dean of the College of Arts and Letters; Drs. Glenn P. Hastedt and Ari Kohen of the Center of for Liberal and Applied Social Sciences; Drs. Jonathan W. Keller and Kay M. Knickrehm of the Department of Political Science; Dr. Katherine J. Kessler, acting associate director of the Honors Program; LTC Dominic Swayne and CPT Lesley Kipling of the Department of Military Science; Steven C. Knickrehm, associate director for policy of the Institute for Infrastructure and Information Assurance; and Dr. Andrew I. Kohen of the Department of Economics. Also present was David A. Silverstein, vice president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a non-partisan policy institute that studies terrorism, which is sponsoring Sidi’s visit to the United States.