Dangerous Liaisons between Military Intelligence and Middle Eastern Studies in Israel

Eyal, Gil

It is a "well-known secret" in Israel that scholars of Middle Eastern studies are heavily involved with military intelligence: they serve their reserve duty there, provide research services for it, and when they are interviewed in the media, they speak with the authority of those "in the know." The fact that such relations exist, therefore, is well known and in itself is not the problem this article sets out to investigate. My question is rather about the causes and significance of this phenomenon: why did academics, who are supposedly committed to disinterested research, become involved in military intelligence work? And why did military intelligence, this most hardheaded and secretive of government agencies, come to draw upon the expertise of historians and philologists? Finally, what are the consequences of such "dangerous liaisons" between military intelligence and Middle Eastern studies?

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January 21, 2022