Group rails against Israel-U.S. police exchange
Jewish Voice for Peace rails against Israel-U.S. effort on police training
HAMDEN — The Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven chapter called for peace and solidarity among all races and ethnicities Wednesday, delivering a petition to the Anti-Defamation League calling for an end to the police training exchange program between Israel and the U.S.
“More important now than ever for our institutions such as the ADL to be uncompromising in their support of all communities,” JVP New Haven chapter chairman Shelly Altman said. “By sponsoring these police exchange programs, we feel they’re doing just the opposite.”
They delivered a petition with 20,000 signatures to the ADL office, seeking an end to the organization’s sponsorship of the National Counter-Terrorism Seminar in Israel, which began in 2004, and other police exchange programs.
The week-long program allows high-ranking officials and members of the U.S. and Israeli police and defense communities “to train together and share best practices for fighting terrorism.” More than 200 high-ranking U.S. officials have participated in the program since its inception.
“The program enables American law enforcement commanders to benefit from Israel’s counterterrorism experience,” according to the ADL website.
But JVP has called the program a “deadly exchange,” citing instances of Israeli policing using tear gas, rubber-covered bullets, excessive force and racial profiling, and the Israeli police’s adoption of “stop and frisk” laws, which were once used by New York City police but were curtailed after court challenges.
“Israel’s expertise in using lethal force and mass surveillance and racial profiling in decades of rule
Palestinians shouldn’t be the model for policing anywhere,” demonstration organizer and JVP member Susan Bramhall said. “We need to challenge militarized and racist policing policies both here and in Palestine and Israel and not valorize it.”
In delivering the petition, Altman said JVP is trying to start a dialogue with the ADL about ending the exchange program, noting the demonstration was not hostile, though the presidential administration has demonized demonstrations as such.
“We’re deeply concerned that an organization whose mission is to be a civil rights organization that is working on behalf of all people is promoting a program that learns from a country that routinely violates human rights,” Bramhall said.
The demonstration was one of several held in the United States on Wednesday. Petitions were delivered to ADL offices in other U.S. cities, and JVP members shared testimonials gathered from Palestinians, Ethiopian Jews and others said to be affected by Israeli law enforcement.
The ADL could not be reached for comment on Wednesday’s demonstraover tion, but said in a June blog post on its website, “It is perfectly legitimate to criticize Israeli policies. But JVP single-minded desire to paint Israel as a source of racism and violence has led it far beyond legitimate criticism of Israel,” and said in recent months the JVP “has taken increasingly radical positions and has employed questionable tactics in pursuit of its mission to diminish support for Israel.”
The ADL aims to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and combat hate and discrimination in minority communities.
Susan Bramhall, member of Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven chapter, speaks at a demonstration Wednesday in front of the Anti-Defamation League’s office to end the police exchange with Israel.
Community members and members of Jewish Voice for Peace protest in front of the Anti-Defamation League’s office Wednesday.