There are myriad ways in which Israeli academic institutions promote the Occupation and the national security state. From embedding the IDF in technical high schools from which the army recruits its future cyberwar hackers, to hosting glorified job fairs at which the intelligence agencies recruit their future assassins and torturers.
Ilana Hammerman wrote about one such event hosted by and at the Hebrew University on behalf of the Shin Bet. I’ve posted here about the Shin Bet’s recruitment schemes and Israeli university collaboration in them. In that post, I mentioned that the country’s universities are required by law to share the names and personal information of enrolled students for the agencies to do with whatever they wish.
In Hammerman’s case, she was invited, along with the entire student body via personal invitation to attend a special two-hour conference at which Shin Bet recruiters flaunted the agency’s wares to the eager audience of hundreds of university students. They were told that the domestic spy agency was looking for sensitive, intelligent souls who could not just communicate with Palestinian spies, but compel them to do something entirely unnatural to them. The audience was told what a warm feeling they’d have deep inside knowing they’d be spending their work days protecting the nation.
But Hammerman ends by telling her readers what was missing from the sales pitch:
The gathering ended with applause and the [Shin Bet agents] with their clean pressed white shirts exited the hall and stood, as promised, at their posts in the lobby in order to encourage those interested in private conversation and receiving job applications.
When I left, they were enveloped by scores of those pressing themselves upon them. I returned home and was shaken to the core with shock at what I’d seen and heard in hall of the University’s Mexico Building in the academic fortress in the heights of Mt. Scopus.
And I was especially shocked by what they didn’t see or hear: in the military courts and back streets of Yata and Hebron; starting with the methodical destruction of Palestinian society in the West Bank through temptation, threats, and bullying, and ending in torture in the interrogation facilities of the Shabak.
I told myself, I’ve recorded these methods from the victims themselves, and here they were presented to me in the guise of a perfect PR pitch under the sponsorship of the Hebrew University. And no one complained, or protested, or blew up this loathsome conference.Regarding this collaboration with the Shabak it’s appropriate to call for an academic boycott of the University and its faculty, whether the ethical code bans this or not. All of my ethical, aesthetic and academic senses as a alumna in the past and teacher at present–tell me that an academic institution is forbidden to collaborate with such secret police under any circumstances, even more so in the State of Israel in the condition in which it currently finds itself.
The Israeli government and the Lobby’s flacks in this country attempt to paint BDS as a front for the destruction of Israel. Anyone (New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon is but the latest example) who touches the movement with a ten-foot pole is branded an anti-Semite or Nazi. But Americans should know that Israel’s national institutions, including its universities are complicit in the worst sins of Occupation. They deserve opprobrium for this outrageous ethical breach.