The Academic Reserve

Israel's Fast Track to High-Tech Success

in Israel Studies Review
Author:
Gil Baram Tel Aviv University gilbaram@tauex.tau.ac.il

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Isaac Ben-Israel Tel Aviv University itzik@tauex.tau.ac.il

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Abstract

Why is Israel world-renowned as the ‘start-up nation’ and a leading source of technological innovation? While existing scholarship focuses on the importance of skill development during Israel Defense Forces (IDF) service, we argue that the key role of the Academic Reserve has been overlooked. Established in the 1950s as part of David Ben-Gurion's vision for a scientifically and technologically advanced defense force, the Academic Reserve is a special program in which the IDF sends selected high school graduates to earn academic degrees before they complete an extended term of military service. After finishing their service, most participants go on to contribute to Israel's successful high-tech industry. By focusing on the role of the Academic Reserve, we provide a broader understanding of Israel's ongoing technological success.

Contributor Notes

GIL BARAM is a PhD candidate at the Tel Aviv University School of Political Science, Government and International Affairs, and a Research Fellow at the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC). She is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. E-mail: gilbaram@tauex.tau.ac.il

ISAAC BEN-ISRAEL has been Head of the Yuval Ne'eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security since 2002 and Director of the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC) at Tel Aviv University. He served as Head of Military R&D of the Israel Defense Forces and the Ministry of Defense and has twice been awarded the Israel Defense Award. E-mail: itzik@tauex.tau.ac.il

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