Northwestern alumna funds counterterrorism internship program

Junnie Kwon, Reporter

Hoping to continue her father’s legacy of counterterrorism, a Northwestern alumna created an internship program aimed at fighting terrorist activities.

Michele Silverman (Medill ’06) helped establish the Arnold Silverman Internship Program, which sends law students to Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv, Israel. Launched last summer, the internship allows students to gain firsthand experience in class-action lawsuits involving terrorist organizations.

Leonard Hammer, director of the Arnold Silverman Internship Program, said the nonprofit organization sues terrorists and institutions that support terrorists under U.S. anti-terrorism legislation. It recently filed a suit against the Bank of China for transferring the funds of terrorist organizations. The term “Shurat HaDin” essentially means to keep judgment in line, he said.

Although Hammer said the organization handles serious cases and a heavy workload, it currently employs only six lawyers. As a result, when the center received emails from students expressing their interest, it welcomed the idea of student internships.

“It’s not just filing papers in a law office,” Hammer said. “The point of it is that we’re trying to get them socially involved and socially aware and to demonstrate that one lawyer can make a difference.”

The program will offer internship positions during Winter Quarter and Summer Session. Moving forward, the students will also take a short course, an introduction to Israeli law, Hammer said.

Silverman, who provided the funds for the new program with an endowment, named it after her late father because of his passion for Israel. She said when she was born, her father began taking his Jewish faith more seriously. As religion began to play a more important role in his life, he became involved in several Israel-interest organizations such as Honest Reporting and Shurat HaDin. He went on several missions with Shurat HaDin that included witnessing trials of people who were involved in terrorist activities, Silverman said.

“My father and the work he put into advocating for the state of Israel and the people living there – that deserves a legacy,” she said. “I learned from my father, so his passions became mine, and I also happen to feel strongly and agree about the same things.”

Silverman said the link between education and practical application inspired her to endow the internship, which will educate students about law systems in foreign countries.

“He labeled himself as a perpetual student,” Silverman said. “I think if he could have jumped from graduate program to graduate program he would have.”