“Deadly Exchange”: America’s Racist Policing Has Roots in Israel

During training sessions in Israel, American police delegations meet with Israeli military, police, and intelligence agencies and taught what Israel calls counterterrorism, but is in fact no more than “refining methods of racial profiling.”

By Miko Peled via Mint Press News

Israeli border police frisks a Palestinian ahead of a protest against Middle East peace plan announced Tuesday by US President Donald Trump, which strongly favors Israel, in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Racism and violence against people of color in the U.S. is nothing new. In fact, the United States, with its claims to be “the land of the free,” has always been a racist, genocidal and violent state. It was founded on genocide of the native people and on the backs African slaves. The United States committed the most egregious war crimes in the history of mankind, including genocide, the use of nuclear weapons, destruction of democracies and support for murderous dictators around the world, and the list goes on and on from the earliest days of the Union to this very day.

The state of Israel, which historically speaking is a new creation, was also founded on genocide and racism. For close to one hundred years the Zionist movement which created Israel has been engaged in a brutal campaign to rid Palestine of its indegenous population and give the land to Jewish colonizers. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that good relations exist between the United States and Israel.

There are countless areas of life in the U.S. in which Israel and various Zionist organizations influence and interfere. The Jewish Federation, the Anti-Defamation League, and AIPAC are the most commonly recognized but are only three out of countless organizations that operate throughout the fifty states and relentlessly pursue Israeli interests in all facets of American life.

These organizations interfere in U.S. elections by pouring money into the campaigns of  pro-Israeli candidates; they are engaged in heavily influencing the outcome of trials where the defendants are Arabs or Muslims, and they finance campaigns to edit and rewrite curricula in public schools so that the Middle East is always taught in a way that supports the Zionist narrative.

A deadly exchange

As the video clip of a Minnesota police officer slowly and callously choking George Floyd to death went viral, many people, including myself, remembered Palestine. Officer Derek Chauvin, who casually placed his knee on George Floyd’s neck, could have easily been an Israeli soldier or police officer holding down a Palestinian. The way he just sat there, took a knee on Floyd’s neck, ignoring Floyd who repeatedly said he cannot breathe, ignoring Floyd as he begged him to allow him to breathe and ignoring the fact that the man under his knee was slowly suffocating to death made it clear that this cop was a predator and George Floyd was merely his prey.

Since 9/11, many American police forces have been trained by Israeli security experts. Photos | AP

Since 9/11, many American police forces have been trained by Israeli security experts. Photos | AP

This happens in America just as it happens in Palestine. The similarities are no coincidence and they may well be the result of what has become known as the “Deadly Exchange,” a collaboration between the two racist states who see no problem in executing and watching the slow agonizing death of black and brown people.

Deadly Exchange is the name of a campaign to stop the collaboration between police departments across the United States and the state of Israel. The campaign put out an extensive report that outlines the cooperation between law enforcement in the U.S. and Israel. The report also lists the dangers and threats that this exchange poses to people of color in the United States.

Israeli democracy and security

Israel is wrongly heralded as a democracy facing perpetual threat. In reality, it is an apartheid state and its security apparatus is dedicated neither to safety nor security as it claims, but rather to the subjugation of Palestinians. During training sessions in Israel, U.S. law enforcement delegations meet with Israeli military, police, and intelligence agencies. They are given “opportunities” to learn about what Israel calls counterterrorism, but is in fact no more than “refining methods of racial profiling.”

Cynically taking advantage of the 9/11 attacks, within months of the attacks, American law enforcement representatives set out to Israel for their first official training expeditions. The purpose was to learn from Isreal’s so-called “expertise” in what has become known as counter-terrorism. Counter-Terrorism, it is worth noting here, is a euphemism for the violent means used to subjugate oppressed people.

The very first delegation to Israel, according to Deadly Exchange, included police chiefs and deputies from California, Texas, Maryland, Florida, and New York. The delegation also included FBI and CIA agents, future ICE officers, and directors of New York City MTA security.

Among the sponsors of this exchange program are the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which claims to fight the defamation of Jewish people, but in fact is dedicated to defamation of Arabs and Muslims, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). JISNA claims it is dedicated to “educating Congressional, military and civilian national security decision-makers on American defense and strategic interests,”  the cornerstone of which, according to JINSA, “is a robust U.S.-Israeli security cooperation.” Both groups are well funded Zionist organizations that are dedicated to promoting and defending Israeli violence and racism no matter what.

Systemic racism

One of the many similarities between Israel and the United States is their propensity for systemic racism. From the very beginning, Israel has imposed an apartheid regime in occupied Palestine and Palestinian citizens of Israel are subjected to systematic profiling. This means that interactions with the Israeli police regularly lead to “excessive and often lethal use of force deployed with impunity.”

Not unlike the United States where black and brown Americans make up the majority of the prison population, in Israeli prisons, Palestinian citizens of Israel represent a disproportionate number of those incarcerated. A report in the Israeli publication Mekomit states that Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 percent of the overall population, comprise over 40 percent of the prison population, in fact, according to Mekomit, only about a quarter of prisoners held in Israeli prisons are Jewish, and amongst minors being held in Israeli prisons, only about 13 percent are Jews.

Israeli border police officers detain a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem’s Old City, Monday, July 17, 2017. Islamic leaders called on Muslims on Monday to boycott a Jerusalem holy site at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a gesture of protest after Israel set up metal detectors at the site’s entrance gates following a deadly Arab attack there last week. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

If we include “security prisoners,” who come from the occupied Palestinian West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, the numbers are even more grotesque, raising the percentage of Palestinians within the Israeli prison population to a staggering 73 percent.

Israeli policing utilizes an official policy where an entire population is guilty until proven innocent and naturally, this is part of the so-called counterterrorism training offered by Israel. It reinforces institutionalized racial profiling and even the targeting of social movements that demand racial justice. 

The Israeli government uses false claims of “terrorism” to treat all Palestinians as potential enemy combatants. The excuse of terrorism is also used in order to subjugate Palestinians to a different system of laws, which inevitably leads to more policing and higher rates of incarceration.

Media

The training Israel offers also includes methods to control the media. Members of law enforcement who have received the training reported that they “learned about how to intervene and shape media access and coverage of violence committed by the military and police.” The Israeli methods taught include how to use the media as an arm of the government and “reframe coverage of state violence.”

The Israeli government utilizes the office of the military censor to control all reporting on Israel’s use of force. It also reviews all books and other material before it can be made available to the public. The IDF Spokesperson’s office which also yields power over Israeli journalists, acts as Israel’s de facto public relations office, restricting and shaping local coverage of what it considers to be “security affairs.”

It should be noted that in Israel there is very little criticism when it comes to the work of the army and other security agencies and reporters work very closely with the military to present its violence against Palestinians as justified. Palestinian dissent, even when it is expressed in the most peaceful methods, is regularly reported as violence and borderline terrorism.

Israel has “normalized” the use of military force to stamp out popular protests, thus contributing to the undermining of basic civil rights of Palestinians. These violent, forceful methods of controlling dissent are shown to the American police delegations through briefings and even live demonstrations.

Parallels to Palestine

The violent encounters black communities in the U.S. experience with the police have led many people to draw parallels between Palestinians and people of color in the United States. This created a real sense of solidarity between U.S. social movements and the Palestinian struggle for liberation, a solidarity that is increasingly becoming stronger and can potentially turn the tide of public opinion on this issue in the U.S.

In its report, the Deadly Exchange Campaign demands that “the American government end its violence in the name of security.” The report also states that “We hope that local governments nationwide heed the calls from communities across Palestine and the United States to help build a world with real safety that we all can inhabit with dignity.”

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

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