Thousands of conscripts and career officers from across Israel’s security agencies spend weeks at the Military Intelligence language school learning Arabic or Farsi

The IDF's secret weapon against Iran
IDF recruits at the Military Intelligence language school. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)


Israel’s military has a secret weapon as the Jewish State’s war-between-war campaign against Hezbollah and Iran continues to expand: A language school where soldiers can become fluent in Arabic or Persian in less than two months.

In a nondescript building in a base in the center of the country sits the largest intelligence school in the entire Middle East. Thousands of soldiers and officers have passed through its doors every year, trained for positions in the IDF’s Military Intelligence Division.

“It’s not like in a normal school where students are taught just a language. We aren’t here just to learn a language,” Maj. “V” the Head of Language Teaching Department at the Military Intelligence and Cyber Instruction Unit told The Jerusalem Post. “The language is a tool to get and understand the intelligence we collect.”

The school, which has existed for over 50 years, uses innovative approaches and learning environments that within weeks has soldiers understanding both the language and culture of their enemies.

“R” has been teaching at the school for 47 years and teaches students spoken Arabic while her daughter, Master Sergeant “N” teaches students written Arabic.

“It’s a challenging and hard role because we have the responsibility of the state’s security on our shoulders,” she said. “To work in this environment is serving the country, on all levels.”

And it’s not only conscripts who study at the school, but officers in other Israeli security agencies whose operational activity sees them interacting with Palestinians or the Arab world on a regular basis.

According to Maj.V, whose full name can’t be shared for security reasons, explained that in recent years fundamental Islam and the Persian language has become a more central part of the school, which for years has focused on various Arabic dialects and Hebrew.

The Hebrew language courses are “a growing trend” at the school, not only for new immigrants whose mother tongue isn’t Hebrew but for Israelis who “don’t read or write enough and therefore whose Hebrew just isn’t good enough,” Maj.V said.

While the IDF’s language school is the largest of its kind, there are several schools across the country teaching Arabic and one which teaches Farsi, giving students the opportunity to be selected to the Intelligence Unit’s language tracks which opens the doors to the elite Unit 8200.

“It’s more challenging because it’s [Persian] not taught in Israeli schools, this is the only place in the country that researches and teaches the language so intensely.”

“Because of the dynamic world of intelligence and changes in the intelligence, students are learning non-stop,” Maj.V told The Jerusalem Post, explaining that students learn from 8AM until 11PM every day for 10 weeks to get matriculation certificates in the language before another 10 weeks of advanced courses.

Despite the growing number of language translation tools available, there’s nothing better than the human mind.

“Today there are more and more translation tools, so why would you need people to learn a language? Because while they are good, you still need people who don’t only know the language” but who can read between the lines and give the precise intelligence the military needs.

“Time is not a luxury that we have. The soldiers have only two years where they are serving and I want them to be as effective as possible in their work,” Maj. V said.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post