Over 100 Minnesota law enforcement officers attended a 2012 conference organized by the Israeli consulate in which Israeli police trained them. Israeli forces often use the knee-on-neck restraint on Palestinians…
Israel has been training law enforcement officers around the US for many years, despite the fact that Israeli forces have a long record of human rights violations…
The neck technique taught by Israeli trainers was in the Minneapolis police manual…
Groups organizing Israeli trainings of US police are the ADL, Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs (JINSA), and the American Jewish Committee (AJC)…
Meanwhile, Congress is poised to pass a bipartisan $38 billion package to Israel…
Read six reports below:
Minnesota cops ‘trained by Israeli forces in restraint techniques’
By Jon Collins, reposted from the UK Morning Star newspaper (embedded links added by IAK)
Officers from the US police force responsible for the killing of George Floyd received training in restraint techniques and anti-terror tactics from Israeli law-enforcement officers.
Mr Floyd’s death in custody last Monday, the latest in a succession of police killings of African Americans, has sparked continuing protests and rioting in US cities.
At least 100 Minnesota police officers attended a 2012 conference hosted by the Israeli consulate in Chicago, the second time such an event had been held.
There they learned the violent techniques used by Israeli forces as they terrorise the occupied Palestinian territories under the guise of security operations.
The so-called counterterrorism training conference in Minneapolis was jointly hosted by the FBI.
Israeli deputy consul Shahar Arieli claimed that the half-day session brought “top-notch professionals from the Israeli police” to share knowledge with their US counterparts.
It is unclear whether any of the officers involved in the incident in which Mr Floyd was killed attended the conference.
Israeli forces broke necks
But in a chilling testimony, a Palestinian rights activist said that when she saw the image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck, she was reminded of the Israeli forces’ policing of the occupied territories.
Neta Golan, the co-founder of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) said: “When I saw the picture of killer cop Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd by leaning in on his neck with his knee as he cried for help and other cops watched, I remembered noticing when many Israeli soldiers began using this technique of leaning in on our chest and necks when we were protesting in the West Bank sometime in 2006.
“They started twisting and breaking fingers in a particular way around the same time. It was clear they had undergone training for this. They continue to use these tactics — two of my friends have had their necks broken but luckily survived — and it is clear that they [Israel] share these methods when they train police forces abroad in ‘crowd control’ in the US and other countries including Sudan and Brazil.”
Israeli training of US police is widespread
The training of US police officials by Israeli forces is widespread.
Even Amnesty was compelled to report that hundreds of police from Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Washington state and Washington DC had been flown to Israeli for training.
Thousands more have been trained by Israeli forces who have come to the US to host similar events to the one held in Minneapolis. According to the somewhat selective rights organisation, many of these trips are taxpayer-funded, while others are privately funded.
Since 2002 the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs have paid for police chiefs, assistant chiefs and captains to train in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), it said.
The Minneapolis Police Department was contacted for comment.
[Editor’s note: Anoka County (north Minneapolis region) Sheriff James Stuart traveled to Israel last December for a similar training.]
The knee-on-neck, long a staple of Israel’s occupation of Palestine
Excerpted from TRTWorld
….For Palestinians living under military occupation in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, the worst excesses of the kind seen in the US recently, are a near everyday occurrence.
In the aftermath of Floyd’s killing, Palestinians were quick to draw parallels between the final images of the man suffering under the knee of the officer, and similar choke holds used by Israel occupation forces.
“Crazy how the same thing happens in Palestine but the world chooses to ignore it,” Palestinian athlete Mohammad Alqadi wrote on his Twitter above four separate images of Israeli soldiers pinning Palestinians to the ground with their knees on their necks or head.
Israeli forces have killed numerous men, women, and children
Killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces are also a regular occurrence: in 2019, 135 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces with 108 in Gaza and another 27 in the West Bank, according to the UN.
The similarities do not end there, as some activists have drawn parallels between the way US police have handled protests against police brutality in the aftermath of Floyd’s death and the way Israel has dealt with protests in Gaza.
Such comparisons come with caveats, as US police officers despite the controversy over their tactics have yet to kill anywhere near the numbers Israel killed in the Gaza right of return protests that began in 2018, for example. Nevertheless, some of the tactics used are the same, according to pro-Palestinian groups.
On Twitter, the BDS and Palestinian Solidarity working group within the Democratic Socialists of America wrote: “The police violence happening tonight in Minneapolis is straight out of the IDF playbook. How many times have we seen uprisings in Gaza met w/ a storm of tear gas? How many times are Palestinians in the West Bank doused w/ skunk water during a protest? US cops train in Israel.”
Police training in Israel
Amnesty International has warned that hundreds of police departments have been training in Israeli alongside military officers, who “have racked up documented human rights violations for years.”
The rights group notes that one of the departments involved in the training, the Baltimore Police Department, had been cited by the US Department of Justice for “widespread constitutional violations, discriminatory enforcement, and culture of retaliation.”
Both Amnesty and the US State Department have cited incidences of Israeli security officials engaging in brutality against Palestinians.
The rights group said: “Baltimore and other police departments should find partners that will train on de-escalation techniques, how to handle mentally challenged or ill citizens, on the constitutional rights of citizens concerning filming and how to appropriately respond to those using non-violent protest to express their opinions. Israel is not such a partner…”
Militarized Police a Gift from Israel?
By Philip Giraldii, excerpted from Unz Review
The militarization of American law enforcement has been in a sense institutionalized through programs set up by the federal government and the states to train with Israeli police, a mentoring relationship established by Michael Chertoff when he was Secretary of Homeland Security. [Editor’s note: Chertoff, co-author of the “USA PATRIOT Act,” may have Israeli citizenship. More on Chertoff here and below.]
Joint training programs run in Israel are being used to indoctrinate American police forces and are difficult to comprehend as related to normal policing as the Israelis are clueless when it comes to conducting investigations or protecting all of their country’s citizens.
Israel’s cops are at the forefront of state violence against Palestinians as well as serving as protectors of rampaging heavily armed settlers who destroy Arab livelihoods so they can steal their land.
The Israeli police are also quite good at using the “Palestinian chair” for torture when they are not shooting Arab teenagers in the back. They also invented skunk water, a disgusting smelling chemical spray initially used against Arab demonstrators, and were the first major police force to regularly employ so-called rubber bullets, which can kill or maim.
In fact, there have been suggestions that certain American policemen might well be picking up some unanticipated pointers from the Israelis. Georgia has been experiencing a surge in officer involved shootings, nearly half of the victims being unarmed or shot from behind. As this has unfolded, the state continues to pursue a “police exchange” program with Israel run through Georgia State University.
The police “exchange programs” began twenty-seven years ago in 1992 and are paid for through grants from the U.S. Department of Justice as well as from the state and local governments.
Reportedly “law enforcement from [a number of] U.S. states have participated in the program, including those from Tennessee, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.”
In some states and local jurisdictions, the Israel exchange program is managed by the Anti-Defamation League, which also sponsors propagandistic seminars on Israeli “counter-terrorism” practices throughout the U.S.
Some states and cities, however, concerned over being linked to Israel’s militarized police forces and their brutal occupation of Palestinian land, are beginning to withdraw from the training program. Recently the Vermont State Police, the Northampton, Massachusetts police department and the Durham North Carolina city police have canceled their planned training in Israel.
There has been particular concern expressed over the Israeli “us-versus-them” dual track mode of policing where the 20% of the country’s citizens that are Arab are regarded as an enemy while the settlers who prey on the Palestinians are automatically protected by police solely because they are Jewish.
Selective policing based on race or ethnicity might be another gift from Israel that visiting American policemen bring home with them. In Israel, lethal force is frequently resorted to on a “shoot-to-kill” basis in any incident involving Arabs and Jews, even when there is no serious threat.
A favorite technique used by the Israeli police to subdue an Arab is the very knee on neck used by Derek Chauvin that killed George Floyd. Minnesota has been actively involved in training its police with the Israelis, to include participation by over 100 officers in a 2012 conference in Minneapolis hosted by Israel’s Chicago consulate.
There, they learned the “restraint procedures” employed by Israelis. The conference was jointly hosted by the FBI, the facilities were provided by the city, and the meeting itself was funded by the federal government and the state.
Neck technique in Minneapolis police manual
While it is not known if Chauvin actually underwent the specific training, the Israeli techniques have made their way into the city’s police manual, which has been, not surprisingly, removed from online. An archived copy of the relevant section on how to control someone who is resisting arrest does still exist however and can be viewed at this site.
It includes “Minneapolis Police Department Use of Force Policy: 5-311, Use of Neck Restraints: Non-deadly force option. Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck).” There are admittedly some caveats on the use of the technique, but it is generally approved for use in subduing someone who is resisting arrest, which may plausibly have been the case with Floyd.
That all means that Officer Derek Chauvin used a technique taught to American police by Israeli trainers even if his judgement can be seriously faulted in terms of how he did it and how long her sustained it. He may have received the training with the full cooperation and financial support of both the Federal government, the government of the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis.
His lawyers will be able to argue, which they surely will, that he used a technique that was endorsed by the city of Minneapolis’s police manual and was also part of officer training with Israel. This makes for an interesting back story and an unbiased judge and jury, if that can be found anywhere on the planet, just might find Chauvin and his three colleagues innocent, which would be a travesty but inevitable in a system where police have effectively been trained and licensed to kill.
Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer. He is currently Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.
U.S. Police are Being Trained by Israel—And Communities of Color Are Paying the Price
In recent years, Georgia has experienced troubling trends in fatal police shootings. As this has unfolded, the state continues to pursue a “police exchange” program with the state of Israel.
reposted from The Progressive
In recent years, Georgia has experienced troubling trends in fatal police shootings. These incidents nearly doubled in the state, up 77 percent between 2017 to 2018. By May 2018, Georgia was already reportedly experiencing a more rapid rise in officer-involved shootings than the rest of the country. According to an investigation of deadly police shootings in Georgia, in the six years after 2010, 184 people were shot and killed by police; almost half of them unarmed or shot in the back.
In 2019, Georgia has already recorded twenty-two fatal police shootings, The Washington Post reports.
As this has unfolded, Georgia continues to pursue a “police exchange” program with the state of Israel. Run through Georgia State University, the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange arranges for American law enforcement officials, corporate security executives, and police officers to engage in trainings, briefings, and seminars with governments including that of China, Colombia, Egypt, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the original and primary focus of the program, Israel.
For twenty-seven years, police departments in Georgia have received grants from the U.S. Department of Justice that subsidize these trainings. Since the program’s inception in 1992, it has trained at least 1,700 participants, including officers from the Atlanta Police Department.
Law enforcement from other U.S. states have participated in the program, including those from Tennessee, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Floria, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wahsington, D.C., and West Virginia.
Open records requests have forced program leaders to reveal some of its content topics, including border policing, community policing, and urban policing.
Activists in Georgia are pushing for an end to Atlanta’s police exchange program. Seventy local organizations and leaders—including our organizations, Jewish Voice for Peace-Atlanta and Project South—are demanding that Atlanta get out of these deadly police exchanges.
Among other objections, activists point to Israel’s clear record of human rights abuses and state violence toward Palestinians, Jews of color, and African refugees. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2018 brought a 69 percent increase over the previous year in Israeli settler violence toward Palestinians, and a rise in Palestinian deaths and injuries in Gaza. In the year since 2018 Great March of Return demonstrations began, more than 190 Palestinians were killed and 28,000 were injured by Israeli Forces.
Regardless of how the Israeli government coalition is shaped after its recent elections, its two largest parties show no indication of ending the fifty-two year Israeli military occupation of Palestine, nor its militarized tactics to control the Palestinian population.
This systematic repression of Palestinians by Israel warrants the U.S. public’s refusal to accept such training programs for their police departments. Racism and violence are endemic problems to police departments around the country, and the influence of Israeli military police trainings only threatens to exacerbates the problem.
Two examples of police violence in Atlanta bring this home. In 2006, one elderly Atlanta resident, Kathryn Johnston, was mistaken for a cocaine dealer and killed by SWAT team conducting a “No Knock” drug raid. In January 2019, twenty-one-year-old Jimmy Atchison was fatally shot in the face by Atlanta police—even though the robbery he was accused of may have never taken place.
In April 2018, the Durham, North Carolina city council voted unanimously to pass a policy barring Durham’s participation in militarized police exchange trainings with Israel and other foreign countries.
The initial petition, created by a coalition of ten Durham organizations states that “the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israel Police have a long history of violence and harm against Palestinian people and Jews of color.” One coalition member said, “training [with Israel] makes it worse in terms of racial profiling and use of force in crowd control.”
The victory in Durham highlights a national movement that seeks to disband military and police training exchanges with Israel.
In December 2018, grassroots organizing efforts succeeded in forcing the Vermont State Police and the Northampton, Massachusetts police chief to pull out of a police exchange program managed by the Anti-Defamation League.
Clearly, many in Atlanta feel it must do the same.
“As long as these programs exist,” says Dawn O’Neal of Us Protecting Us, formerly Black Lives Matter Atlanta, in an email, “as long as police are sent into war zones to train, there will continue to be Tamir Rices and Trayvon Martins. There will continue to be Kathryn Johnstons.”
Israeli trainings in Oakland, CA – facilitated by ADL
Reposted from Palestine Is Here
In 2002, just months after 9/11, American police officers held their first official training expedition to Israel to learn about “counter-terrorism.” Since then, hundreds of law enforcement officials and government agents from across the country have been sent to Israel to meet with military and police forces, and thousands more have participated in conferences, trainings, and workshops with Israeli officials in the United States.
The American and Israeli governments justify these exchanges on the grounds that the United States and Israel share the mission of the War on Terror. American facilitators and participants of these programs similarly argue that the United States and Israel are allied democracies whose law enforcement agencies play a crucial role in preserving national security.
While framed as an opportunity for US law enforcement to learn policing strategies from a closely aligned democracy with counter-terror experience, in fact these are trainings with an occupying force that rules a population deprived of human and civil rights. Rather than promoting security for all, these programs facilitate an exchange of methods of state violence and control, including mass surveillance, racial profiling, and suppression of protest and dissent.
One of the organizations that sponsors these trainings is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL is a non-profit that works to combat anti-Semitism and advocate for Israel. In this context, the ADL runs a National Counter-Terrorism Seminar that has sent hundreds of top ranking officials to Israel to learn about “combatting terror” since 2003. That same year the ADL established an Advanced Training School that brings delegations of Israeli law enforcement to speak to American law enforcement officials, involving over 1,000 U.S. participants since the program began.
The Police Department of Oakland, California, is among the departments that have sent delegates to Israel. An official serving in the Oakland Police Department attended a training in Israel with the ADL as a delegate of the National Counter-Terrorism Seminar in September 2015. In addition, the Oakland Police Department trained with the “YaMaM”, an Israeli Border Police “counter-terrorism” unit, when it participated in Urban Shield in 2011. The Israeli Border Police trained alongside the Oakland Police Department and other police forces worldwide, including the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, winning some of the expo’s competitions in 2010 and 2011, including the international Urban Shield “counter-terror” competition against top rated police and federal SWAT teams from around the world in 2013. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents also participated in Urban Shield’s SWAT competition in 2017. Urban Shield received funding from private military contractor Blackwater (now Academi), and weapons makers TASER and BAE Systems.
After nationwide criticism of Urban Shield, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors was pressured to mandate a set of principles and guidelines that Urban Shield must comply with. As a result, a taskforce was created to assess the impacts of Urban Shield on the community. In response, the Stop Urban Shield Coalition released a damning report card in which they found that Urban Shield failed or was insufficient at addressing the concern areas put forth by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
In 2018, the Stop Urban Shield Coalition successfully campaigned to end Urban Shield “as currently constituted” in Alameda County as of 2019. However, the militarized practices and trainings for law enforcement that Urban Shield represents have not ended.
The Israelification of American domestic security
By Max Blumenthal, excerpted from The GrayZone
The process of Israelification [of US law enforcement] began in the immediate wake of 9/11, when national panic led federal and municipal law enforcement officials to beseech Israeli security honchos for advice and training. America’s Israel lobby exploited the climate of hysteria, providing thousands of top cops with all-expenses paid trips to Israel and stateside training sessions with Israeli military and intelligence officials. By now, police chiefs of major American cities who have not been on junkets to Israel are the exception.
“Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who now serves as the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police, remarked, “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel.” “One would say it is the front line,” Barnett Jones, the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said of Israel. “We’re in a global war.”
Changing the way we do business
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisers who have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq.
Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level. “The Israelis changed the way we do business regarding homeland security in New Jersey,” Richard Fuentes, the NJ State Police Superintendent, said after attending a 2004 JINSA-sponsored Israel trip and a subsequent JINSA conference alongside 435 other law enforcement officers.
During a 2004 LEEP trip, JINSA brought 14 senior American law enforcement officials to Israel to receive instruction from their counterparts. The Americans were trained in “how to secure large venues, such as shopping malls, sporting events and concerts,” JINSA’s website reported. Escorted by Brigadier General Simon Perry, an Israeli police attaché and former Mossad official, the group toured the Israeli separation wall, now a mandatory stop for American cops on junkets to Israel. “American officials learned about the mindset of a suicide bomber and how to spot trouble signs,” according to JINSA. And they were schooled in Israeli killing methods. “Although the police are typically told to aim for the chest when shooting because it is the largest target, the Israelis are teaching [American] officers to aim for a suspect’s head so as not to detonate any explosives that might be strapped to his torso,” the New York Times reported.
Cathy Lanier, now the Chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, was among the law enforcement officials junketed to Israel by JINSA. “I was with the bomb units and the SWAT team and all of those high profile specialized [Israeli] units and I learned a tremendous amount,” Lanier reflected. “I took 82 pages of notes while I was there which I later brought back and used to formulate a lot of what I later used to create and formulate the Homeland Security terrorism bureau in the DC Metropolitan Police department.”
Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a private non-governmental group with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security. Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF, was so enthusiastic about the program that by 2005 he had begun organizing trips to Israel sponsored by PERF, bringing numerous high-level American police officials to receive instruction from their Israeli counterparts.
PERF gained notoriety when Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against “Occupy” protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the “Occupy” movement and other mass protest activities. Wexler did not respond to my requests for an interview.
Besides JINSA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has positioned itself as an important liaison between American police forces and the Israeli security-intelligence apparatus. Though the ADL promotes itself as a Jewish civil rights group, it has provoked controversy by publishing a blacklist of organizations supporting Palestinian rights, and for condemning a proposal to construct an Islamic community center in downtown New York, several blocks from Ground Zero, on the basis that some opponents of the project were entitled to “positions that others would characterize as irrational or bigoted.”
Through the ADL’s Advanced Training School course on Extremist and Terrorist Threats, over 700 law enforcement personnel from 220 federal and local agencies including the FBI and CIA have been trained by Israeli police and intelligence commanders. This year, the ADL brought 15 high-level American police officials to Israel for instruction from the country’s security apparatus. According to the ADL, over 115 federal, state and local law enforcement executives have undergone ADL-organized training sessions in Israel since the program began in 2003. “I can honestly say that the training offered by ADL is by far the most useful and current training course I have ever attended,” Deputy Commissioner Thomas Wright of the Philadelphia Police Department commented after completing an ADL program this year. The ADL’s relationship with the Washington DC Police Department is so cozy its members are invited to accompany DC cops on “ride along” patrols.
The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program, which “draws on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of…their role as protectors of the Constitution,” the group’s website stated. All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs. According to officialFBI recruitment material, “all new special agents must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to see firsthand what can happen when law enforcement fails to protect individuals.”
Former Shin Bet head & Michael Chertoff sign agreement
Among the most prominent Israeli government figure to have influenced the practices of American law enforcement officials is Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service and current member of Knesset who recently introduced legislation widely criticized as anti-democratic. During the Second Intifada, Dichter ordered several bombings on densely populated Palestinian civilian areas, including one on the al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza that resulted in the death of 15 innocent people, including 8 children, and 150 injuries. “After each success, the only thought is, ‘Okay, who’s next?’” Dichter said of the “targeted” assassinations he has ordered.
Despite his dubious human rights record and apparently dim view of democratic values, or perhaps because of them, Dichter has been a key figure in fostering cooperation between Israeli security forces and American law enforcement. In 2006, while Dichter was serving as Israel’s Minister of Public Security, he spoke in Boston, Massachusetts before the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Seated beside FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Dichter told the 10,000 police officers in the crowd that there was an “intimate connection between fighting criminals and fighting terrorists.” Dichter declared that American cops were actually “fighting crimiterrorists.” The Jerusalem Post reported that Dichter was “greeted by a hail of applause, as he was hugged by Mueller, who described Dichter as his mentor in anti-terror tactics.”
A year after Dichter’s speech, he and then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff signed a joint memorandum pledging security collaboration between America and Israel on issues ranging from airport security to emergency planning. In 2010, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano authorized a new joint memorandum with Israeli Transport and Road Safety Minister Israel Katz shoring up cooperation between the US Transportation Security Agency – the agency in charge of day-to-day airport security – and Israel’s Security Department. The recent joint memorandum also consolidated the presence of US Homeland Security law enforcement personnel on Israeli soil. “The bond between the United States and Israel has never been stronger,” Napolitano remarked at a recent summit of AIPAC, the leading outfit of America’s Israel lobby, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Israeli imprimatur on NYPD Demographic Unit
For the New York Police Department, collaboration with Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus became a top priority after 9/11. Just months after the attacks on New York City, the NYPD assigned a permanent, taxpayer-funded liaison officer to Tel Aviv. Under the leadership of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, ties between the NYPD and Israel have deepened by the day. Kelly embarked on his first trip to Israel in early 2009 to demonstrate his support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, a one-sided attack that left over 1400 Gaza residents dead in three weeks and led a United Nations fact-finding mission to conclude that Israeli military and government officials had committed war crimes.
Kelly returned to Israel the following year to speak at the Herziliya Conference, an annual gathering of neoconservative security and government officials who obsess over supposed “demographic threats.” After Kelly appeared on stage, the Herziliya crowd was addressed by the pro-Israel academic Martin Kramer, who claimed that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was helping to reduce the numbers of “superfluous young men of fighting age.” Kramer added, “If a state can’t control these young men, then someone else will.”
Back in New York, the NYPD set up a secret “Demographics Unit” designed to spy on and monitor Muslim communities around the city. The unit was developed with input and intensive involvement by the CIA, which still refuses to name the former Middle East station chief it has posted in the senior ranks of the NYPD’s intelligence division. Since 2002, the NYPD has dispatched undercover agents known as “rakers” and “mosque crawlers” into Pakistani-American bookstores and restaurants to gauge community anger over US drone strikes inside Pakistan, and into Palestinian hookah bars and mosques to search out signs of terror recruitment and clandestine funding. “If a raker noticed a customer looking at radical literature, he might chat up the store owner and see what he could learn,” the Associated Press reported. “The bookstore, or even the customer, might get further scrutiny.”
The Israeli imprimatur on the NYPD’s Demographics Unit is unmistakable. As a former police official told the Associated Press, the Demographics Unit has attempted to “map the city’s human terrain” through a program “modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank.”
Shop ‘til you’re stopped
At Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, security personnel target non-Jewish and non-white passengers, especially Arabs, as a matter of policy. The most routinely harassed passengers are Palestinian citizens of Israel, who must brace themselves for five-hour interrogation sessions and strip searches before flying. Those singled out for extra screening by Shin Bet officers are sent to what many Palestinians from Israel call the “Arab room,” where they are subjected to humiliating questioning sessions (former White House Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala encountered such mistreatment during a visit to Israel last year). Some Palestinians are forbidden from speaking to anyone until takeoff, and may be menaced by Israeli flight attendants during the flight. In one documented case, a six-month-old was awoken for a strip search by Israeli Shin Bet personnel. Instances of discrimination against Arabs at Ben Gurion International are too numerous to detail – several incidents occur each day – but a few of the more egregious instances were outlined in a 2007 petition the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed with the country’s Supreme Court.
Though the Israeli system of airline security contains dubious benefits and clearly deleterious implications for civil liberties, it is quietly and rapidly migrating into major American airports. Security personnel at Boston’s Logan International Airport have undergone extensive training from Israeli intelligence personnel, learning to apply profiling and behavioral assessment techniques against American citizens that were initially tested on Palestinians. The new procedures began in August, when so-called Behavior Detection Officers were placed in security queues at Logan’s heavily trafficked Terminal A. Though the procedures have added to traveler stress while netting exactly zero terrorists, they are likely to spread to other cities. “I would like to see a lot more profiling” in American airports, said Yossi Sheffi, an Israeli-born risk analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics.
Israeli techniques now dictate security procedures at the Mall of America, a gargantuan shopping mall in Bloomington, Minnesota that has become a major tourist attraction. The new methods took hold in 2005 when the mall hired a former Israeli army sergeant named Mike Rozin to lead a special new security unit. Rozin, who once worked with a canine unit at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, instructed his employees at the Mall of America to visually profile every shopper, examining their expressions for suspicious signs. His security team accosts and interrogates an average of 1200 shoppers a year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.
One of the thousands who fell into Rozin’s dragnet was Najam Qureshi, a Pakistani-American mall vendor whose father accidentally left his cell phone on a table in the mall food court. A day after the incident, FBI agents appeared at Qureshi’s doorstep to ask if he knew anyone seeking to harm the United States. An army veteran interrogated for two hours by Rozin’s men for taking video inside the mall sobbed openly about his experience to reporters. Meanwhile, another man, Emile Khalil, was visited by FBI agents after mall security stopped him for taking photographs of the dazzling consumer haven.
“I think that the threat of terrorism in the United States is going to become an unfortunate part of American life,” Rozin remarked to American Jewish World. And as long as the threat persists in the public’s mind, Israeli securitocrats like Rozin will never have to worry about the next paycheck.
“Occupy” meets the occupation
When a riot squad from the New York Police Department destroyed and evicted the “Occupy Wall Street” protest encampment at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, department leadership drew on the anti-terror tactics they had refined since the 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, the NYPD deployed “counterterrorism measures” to mobilize large numbers of cops for the lightning raid on Zuccotti. The use of anti-terror techniques to suppress a civilian protest complemented harsh police measures demonstrated across the country against the nationwide “Occupy” movement, from firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into unarmed crowds to blasting demonstrators with the LRAD sound cannon.
Given the amount of training the NYPD and so many other police forces have received from Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus, and the profuse levels of gratitude American police chiefs have expressed to their Israeli mentors, it is worth asking how much Israeli instruction has influenced the way the police have attempted to suppress the Occupy movement, and how much they will inform police repression of future examples of street protest. What can be said for certain is that the Israelification of American law enforcement has intensified police fear and hostility towards the civilian population, blurring the lines between protesters, criminals, and terrorists. As Dichter said, they are all just “crimiterrorists.”
Progressive Except Palestine / $38 Billion to Israel
US media and many progressives often ignore Israeli human rights violations. For example, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has expressed appropriate outrage at the murder of George Floyd, while serving on the board of an organization that advocates for Israel despite its discriminatory system and long record of violating international law. Frey has referred to “the extraordinary things that are happening right now” in Israel.
Meanwhile, the US Congress is currently poised to pass a bipartisan $38 billion package to Israel despite devastation to the US economy and Israeli human rights violations, and the media have failed to tell Americans about the legislation.
Track Israeli police trainings here.
This post has been updated with additional reports.