—presented as part of the 8 Days Campaign in December 2016.
For years, and especially since the second Intifada, thousands of representatives of US law enforcement agencies visit Israel each year as part of various delegations and training programs. During these visits they meet with representatives of Israeli police and learn about tactics for policing an occupied population, visiting places like Rachel’s Tomb, Hebron, East Jerusalem, and Ben-Gurion International Airport.
The training is conducted by private companies and associations, together with Israeli Police and the Ministry of Defense. Associations and private companies (Taglit – Birthright, the Anti-Defamation League, JINSA, GILEE) organize the training because Israel is considered a world leader in the area, or as one Washington D.C. Police Chief put it, “the Harvard of counter-terrorism,” which many can learn from. While the associations represent various different world-views, they all have a strong pro-Israel agenda tinting the training programs with Hasbara. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is a longstanding Jewish organization which fights against anti-semitism and expressions of racism.
Since 2004, the ADL has sent over 200 high-ranking representatives and 100,000 officers of U.S. law enforcement agencies for training in Israel, representing over 100 different agencies. The training involves a week-long seminar in Israel and meetings with representatives of police, military, and intelligence agencies, as well as training on terror attack prevention and response, the evolution of terrorist activities and tactics, leadership under terror, intelligence collection and information sharing, using technology in the war on terror, balancing crime-fighting and counter-terrorism, and more. “This program […] is designed to help American law enforcement executives gain a firsthand understanding of the impact of terrorism on civil society and allow them to interact directly with their Israeli police peers,” their website states. It is absurd that an organization which claims to work against racism seeks to import law enforcement practices from Israeli security forces while ignoring the violence enacted on Palestinians – an absurdity of Israeli “Hasbara.” The police officers who come to Israel learn how to rule over an occupied people, how to see the Arab public as an enemy.
In 2011, the Chief of St. Louis police, Timothy Fitch, joined an ADL delegation to a national counter-terrorism seminar which included a week-long visit to Israel for the purpose of tactical and strategic training with Israeli police, conducted by high-ranking officers from Israeli police, security, and intelligence agencies. U.S. legal commentator John Miranda argues that the rising police violence seen in the United States in recent years is clearly linked to the training given to many police officers in Israel since 9/11. According to Miranda, the policemen who go to Israel train their sergeants in the tactics they studied.
Rashid Khalidi of the University of Columbia comments on American police militarization following training in Israel: “If American police and sheriffs consider they’re in occupation of neighborhoods like Ferguson and East Harlem, this training is extremely appropriate—they’re learning how to suppress a people, deny their rights and use force to hold down a subject population.”