by WorldTribune Staff, April 20, 2018
The city council in Durham, North Carolina voted April 16 to prohibit training and exchanges between the city’s police department and the Israeli military.
With the unanimous vote, Durham becomes the first U.S. city to take such action.
The council’s resolution says: “The council opposes international exchanges with any country in which Durham officers receive military-style training since such exchanges do not support the kind of policing we want here in the City of Durham.”
The council said it sought to “recognize and share the deep concern about militarization of police forces around the country We know that racial profiling and its subsequent harms to communities of color have plagued policing in our nation and in our own community.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), thousands of U.S. federal and local police and law enforcement personnel have trained with the Israeli military and police.
The ADL noted that more than 200 high-ranking American law enforcement officials have visited Israel to participate in counterterrorism seminars.
The Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine Coalition said Durham’s previous police chief, Jose Lopez, was involved in an exchange training program with Israel.
According to his biography, Lopez, who retired in 2015, spent a week in Israel attending the ADL’s National Counter-Terrorism Seminar. He told the council that none of the training involved “militarization.” He said the training dealt with “leadership, it was learning about terrorism and then learning about how to interact with people who are involved in mass casualty situations and how to manage mass casualty situations.”
Noah Rubin-Blose of the Triangle chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace said following the vote, “Abolishing police exchanges between Durham and Israel is a step towards a true community safety that cares for people’s needs and is not modeled after occupation and apartheid.”
Jewish Voice for Peace is part of the Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine Coalition, a group of 10 organizations which pushed for the ban, according to an April 19 report by Haaretz.
Durham Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis said in a statement to the city council: “There has been no effort while I have served as chief of police to initiate or participate in any exchange to Israel, nor do I have any intention to do so.
The coalition said in its petition to the council: “The Israeli Defense Forces and the Israel Police have a long history of violence and harm against Palestinian people and Jews of Color. They persist in using tactics of extrajudicial killing, excessive force, racial profiling, and repression of social justice movements. These tactics further militarize U.S. police forces that train in Israel, and this training helps the police terrorize Black and Brown communities here in the U.S.”
The petition called on the city to “immediately halt any partnerships that the Durham Police Department has or might enter into with the Israeli Defense Forces and/or the Israel Police.”
Haaretz noted that the ADL’s Washington, D.C. regional director, Doron F. Ezickson, said that, “Far from training that ‘helps the police terrorize black and brown communities,’ ADL’s law enforcement programs, including those in Israel, are designed to equip officers with the knowledge, understanding, and sense of accountability necessary to help safeguard all of our communities and ensure that our civil rights and liberties are rigorously protected.”