Florian Druckenthaner

I am an Austrian native from the Sound-of-Music region.  At the age of 19, I moved to Berlin where I volunteered for the Anne Frank Center and pursued a B.A. in European Media Studies at the University of Potsdam.  Some of my previous experiences include participation at the world’s largest UN simulation in New York (NMUN) in 2008 and an internship in the European parliament in 2010.  My “relationship” with Israel started in 2005.  During my first vacation in Israel, I immediately fell in love with Tel Aviv.  I was amazed by the liberal lifestyle, the livelihood on the streets and its tolerant and diverse people.  Since then I returned every year on different occasions: Visiting friends, as a participant on German-Israeli youth-exchanges or for academic purposes (I wrote my B.A. thesis on the representation of Arab participants in Israeli reality TV shows).  Each and every visit made me more interested in Israeli politics as well as the strategic situation in the Middle East.  At the same time it also started to strike me how Israel’s perception among my friends in Europe differed so much from my very own experiences.  After my B.A. graduation I wanted to get to the bottom of this question and found there is no better way than studying political science in Israel.  And luckily I successfully convinced the German Academic Exchange Service to provide me with a scholarship.

 

The program in Security and Diplomacy did not disappoint me.  I was able to broaden my perspective by learning about the history of the Middle East and the different conflicts in the region apart from the omnipresent Israeli-Palestinian dispute.  I also benefited from the exchange with my fellow students who brought in perspectives from the U.S., Israel ,Mexico, India, Nigeria and East-Jerusalem (just to name a few).  Particularly interesting for me was to learn about Israel’s national security concept: To understand the sometimes controversial Israeli responses to the challenges of unconventional warfare, terrorism and Iran’s nuclear program.  Classes like “Modern Strategic Thought” by Prof. Azar Gat and “Terrorism and moral dilemmas” by Dr.Tamar Meisels affected my understanding of warfare and its ethical aspects.

 

One of the highlights of the year was to attend the bestowal of the honorary doctorate to Angela Merkel by Tel Aviv University.  Even in Berlin it is quite unthinkable to get so close to a German chancellor.  I also tried as much as possible to make use of the frequent opportunities to meet members of Israel’s political elite. On a regular basis prominent leaders held talks at Tel Aviv University– among them Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni.  Last, but not least, it was intriguing to observe the events of the Arab Spring from within Israel. In all classes, professor and lecturers allocated considerable time to discussing current developments and their implications for the security and stability of the Middle East.  Political science can be historic and theoretical, but also contemporary and concrete at the same time.  After one year in Israel, I feel that I got to know the discipline in all its facets.  Additionally, I chose to enroll in the thesis track of the program. Accordingly, I am still in Tel Aviv as I currently write my final paper discussing the legal and moral aspects of the targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists. My dream is to continue my studies and pursue a PhD in the United States, but I am also considering a career as a policy advisor or public servant at international institutions like the EU, UN or NATO.

 

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