Hebrew University to Host Israeli Army Base on Campus

Jerusalem university wins tender for prestigious military academic program ■ Army will be permitted to install security and computer systems and students will carry firearms on campus

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
Haifa University, where the program was situated until the tender
Haifa University, where the program was situated until the tenderCredit: Eran Gilwarg
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem won a controversial tender to run an academic excellence program for the Israel Defense Forces' Intelligence Corps, the Defense Ministry announced Sunday.

As Haaretz reported last month, the tender, which stipulates that students wear army uniforms and carry their personal firearms on campus, drew criticism from senior academic figures who said it presents "marked pedagogical difficulty and makes it difficult for the students to integrate socially into university life."

Responding to an Haaretz inquiry, the Israeli army denied soldiers will be armed on campus, and added that the terms of the current tender were approved by the Council for Higher Education.

The program, known as Havatzalot, offers three-year training for future intelligence officers, as part of their mandatory army service. It includes basic training at combat level, officer training, a bachelor’s degree and military intelligence and leadership training.

For their degree, students will take a double major. The first concentration will be Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, and for the second they can choose between mathematics, economics, philosophy or computer studies.

>> Armed forces guarding students: Israeli army to open base in a university

Cooperation between the IDF and Israeli academia isn't new, with universities and colleges offering various services for the army and other security agencies. The Havatzalot program itself has been hosted by Haifa University since its founding 14 years ago.

However, the most recent tender includes some clauses dubbed by critics as detrimental to campus life. The IDF requires that entry to the living quarters of the soldier-students and IDF staff members, which must be within the campus, be by biometric pass only.

Additionally, no unauthorized university personnel will be allowed into the soldiers’ or IDF staff’s quarters, security cameras will cover all entrances to living quarters, as well as all staff and administration buildings.

The university will also have to provide the army with personal information about university staff, including any sub-contractors, security guards, administration employees and maintenance staff.

Furthermore, lecturers will apprise the army of the students’ achievements, grades and attendance, once the soldier-students have signed a release. The program’s commander will be permitted to discuss students with their lecturers without the students’ prior knowledge, and allowed to discuss underperforming students with representatives of the university and be informed of any academic decisions before the students in question.

The deputy head of procurement in Israel's Defense Ministry, Bracha Hertz, said Havatzalot will open at Hebrew University in the coming academic year, which begins in October 2019. "All along the way we made sure to maintain the important balance between the program of military excellence and complete academic freedom," she added.

Hebrew University President Prof. Asher Cohen said he is "proud" of the tender's results, "which serve further evidence of the high academic standard at the Hebrew University, which from now on will be a partner in … training of Intelligence Corps soldiers in the challenging Havatzalot program."

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

An El Al jet sits on the tarmac at John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, Thursday, in 2003.

El Al to Stop Flying to Toronto, Warsaw and Brussels

FILE PHOTO: A Star of David hangs from a fence outside the dormant landmark Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood in 2021.

American Judaism Is in Decline. That's Great News for American Jews

Crowds at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, in April.

U.S. Official: West Bank Entry for Palestinian Americans Unrelated to Israeli Visa Waivers

Haaretz spoke with several people who said they had fled Ukraine, arrived in Israel,  and were asked to undergo DNA tests in order to establish paternity.

'My Jewish Grandmother Has a Number on Her Arm, Why Does Israel Greet Me This Way?'

People taking part in the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate the Holocaust, between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, four years ago.

It’s Not Just the Holocaust. Israel Is Failing to Teach the History of the Jews

 A Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.

Israel and Poland Fight Over History, Truth - and Israeli Students