A few weeks ago, a knowledgeable Israeli security source told me that the Shin Bet was launching a wide public campaign to recruit new agents to the security service. Other than a few ads I feature here, I saw no evidence of the campaign so I didn’t report it. Yesterday, the other shoe dropped with the report that Israeli universities have provided personal contact information (Hebrew and English here) for thousands of their graduates to the Shin Bet. The agency has sent recruitment letters to many of them informing them that they may be suitable to work for Israel’s secret police. They urge the individuals to submit job applications.
In some cases, letters were mailed to social justice activists, who thought such recruitment odd. Were they seeking spies to infiltrate Israeli social justice movements? Some of these recipients hadn’t even served in the IDF, which would render them less desirable candidates.
So a Meretz MK wrote to the prime minister’s office asking why Israeli leftists were being recruited and what was the criteria used to determine who was a suitable candidate to approach. The response was pretty much what you’d expect: how could you even think such a thing? That the Shin Bet would recruit people because of their leftist views!! Preposterous.
In no case did recipients authorize release of their private information. But it appears that in the national security state such things are pro forma matters and the security services can get what they want and do what they want. It may summon who it wants and many would be honored to dirty their hands for the sake of the nation.
In truth, all Israeli security agencies including the police have carte blanche to demand whatever information they wish from state agencies like universities, which have no choice but to comply. But it seems to me that the schools should publicly reveal that the information was demanded and provided so their graduates would be aware of this breach of privacy.
The Shin Bet obtained the names, citizen ID numbers (equivalent to a driver’s license and social security number), and contact information for all graduates.