April 23, 2019

Hebrew U’s New Army Intelligence Program Not Welcomed by All

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will be home to an army base for intelligence officers after being selected to run a prestigious military academic program. But not everyone is happy about it.

As part of the Havatzalot project, the officers in training will wear their uniforms on campus and have separate living quarters monitored by security cameras and that can only be entered with a biometric pass. Participants agree to allow their professors to update the Israel Defense Forces about their grades and attendance.

The strict lifestyle will prevent the students from integrating into campus life, argue some at the university, and could intimidate Arab students and staff, say others.

The program includes a double major bachelor’s degree in Islamic or Middle Eastern Studies, and in mathematics, economics, computer science or philosophy for cadets training to be military intelligence officers. It is included as part of their army service. They also receive combat training, officer training and military intelligence training.

The cadets must commit to serving in the military intelligence corps for six years following completion of their studies.

A source identified as a “university representative” by Haaretz said that studying in uniform “causes a marked pedagogical difficulty and makes it difficult for the students to integrate socially into university life. We are asking that the decision to have students come to class in uniform be reconsidered.”

The IDF spokesman noted that the program has been hosted by the University of Haifa since its founding 12 years ago. “The conditions of the current tender are substantively identical to the tender on which the program has been based since its establishment,” the spokesman said. “The amazement over [the conditions] at this stage is surprising and beside the point.

It is scheduled to open at Hebrew University in October 2019.