U.S. officers participate in counter-terrorism training in Israel
Senior U.S. law enforcement officers traveled to Israel last week to learn about counter-terrorism strategies from Israeli police officials and the Israeli Defense Force. The officers include the chiefs of the San Bernardino and Orlando police departments.
The Jerusalem Post reported that approximately 12 officers took part in this year’s National Counter-Terrorism Seminar, an annual event organized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). According to the ADL, over 175 U.S. law enforcement officials have taken part in the week-long seminar since its inception in 2004.
Ramah Kudaimi, the director of grassroots organizing at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, said that programs like the National Counter-Terrorism Seminar allow Israel to justify its policies towards Palestinians.
“For years Israel has been marketing itself as kind of at the frontline of fighting terrorism, and really using very racist and Islamophobic language and ideas to promote itself as that,” Kudaimi said. “I think it benefits from doing that because it allows it to continue its occupation and apartheid policy toward Palestinians and war crimes against Palestinians in the name of the War on Terrorism.”
Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism told the Jerusalem Post that the National Counter-Terrorism Seminar was created to humanize the people of Israel.
“We bring top-level law enforcement from the [U.S] to Israel to learn about civil society here, the role that law enforcement plays in terms of protecting communities with regard to terrorism, and to provide a better sense to American law enforcement about Israel,” Segal said.
For Orlando Police Chief John Mina, the event provides an opportunity to learn about how to respond to terrorism. He told the Jerusalem Post that the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in his city increased his desire to attend the seminar.
Stefanie Fox, deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said that the training program, especially in light of the events in Orlando and San Bernardino, will lead to an increase in surveillance and state sanctioned Islamophobia.
“In response to the events in Orlando and San Bernardino, and in response to police exchanges like this, I think one of the key things that we all need to be looking at is how to root out and fight the really rampant Islamophobia in [the U.S.] today, which certainly has been at perhaps unprecedented levels,” Fox said.
Fox also said that the relationship between U.S. law enforcement and Israel will lead to more “racist targeting and violence” in both countries.
“These kinds of training exchange programs, especially in the moment like this, where the visionary platform from the Movement for Black Lives is just coming out, are really reprehensible and serve as a worst practices exchange between racist policing practices in the U.S. and the same in Israel,” Fox said.
According to Kudaimi, exporting military practices has always been a facet of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“Ever since Israel’s existence it’s been using and testing weapons, technology, policies that control Palestinians and kill Palestinians, and then exporting that knowledge to other countries to use in their own wars against different people,” Kudaimi said.
Kudaimi believes that the partnership between Israel and the U.S. law enforcement is mutually beneficial, but at the expense of Palestinians and black and brown communities in the U.S.
“This is a very win-win situation for both countries, and both countries are benefiting from each other’s commitment to destroying communities,” Kudaimi said.