Did you know that police tactics in the United States are being modeled after the tactics used by Israeli security operatives, the Israeli Defense Force, and Israeli police involved in the illegal occupation of Palestine and abuse of Palestinians? Consider the following information about the Israeli National Counter-Terrorism Seminar that one can find on the website of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
“Every year, American law enforcement executives travel to Israel with ADL to study first hand Israel’s tactics and strategies to combat terrorism. The National Counter-Terrorism Seminar (NCTS) is an intensive week long course led by senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from Israel’s intelligence and security services, and the Israel Defense Forces. More than 175 law enforcement executives have participated in 12 NCTS sessions since 2004, taking the lessons they learned in Israel back to the United States.”
Do you remember seeing tear gas deployed against peaceful protestors in Ferguson, Missouri one night shortly after Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, Jr.? Do you remember the way peaceful protestors with the Occupy movement were violently treated in several places around the United States? Do you remember how the killers of Michael Brown, Jr., Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Tamir Rice, Dillon Taylor, Monroe Isadore, Eugene Ellison, and countless other victims of police homicides were exonerated, and treated by some in the media as being protectors of society?
I twice saw Israeli Defense Force (IDF) units deploy tear gas against Palestinian youth during my recent visit to Israel and Palestine. I smelled the tear gas. I felt the eye and nasal discomfort. What were the Palestinian youth doing? They were congregating on streets in their own neighborhoods protesting Israeli occupation of Palestine, just as neighbors of Michael Brown, Jr. protested that he was shot and killed, and just as they were attacked by armored police units, snipers, and tear gas while in their own neighborhood.
I met and spoke with an IDF veteran and member of the Breaking the Silence veterans movement during my trip to Israel earlier this month. The man told our group how IDF units treat Palestinians as likely terrorists even when Palestinians are minding their own business and tending their own olive groves. IDF personnel who abuse or kill Palestinians are not punished; they are protected and held up as heroic figures.
Our group immediately recognized that poor and communities of color in the United States are treated by the police the way Palestinians are treated by Israeli police and security forces—as if we are an occupied people. And we recognized that police in the U.S. operate as if the laws that govern the use of force, including deadly force, for the rest of society do not apply to them. Police in the United States behave the way I saw IDF personnel behave toward Palestinians, like an occupation force.
Then I remembered a case from years ago, when I was a judge on the Arkansas Court of Appeals, involving a partially disabled black man who was attacked and beaten by police while standing outside the house of relatives waiting on a taxi in a neighborhood one prosecutor termed “a high crime area.” The attacked and beaten man was then charged with disorderly conduct and terroristic threatening because he cursed the police and accused them of harassment. The police were not punished for attacking and beating him.
Members of an occupation force are not punished for oppressing (and even killing) indigenous people and dissenters. Oppression tactics, use of excessive force, deploying tear gas against people who are merely expressing opposition to mistreatment, and condoning those and other abusive practices go hand-in-hand with occupation force government, otherwise known as tyranny or fascism.
Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Monroe Isadore, Dillon Taylor, Eugene Ellison, Sandra Bland, and numerous other victims killed by police or while in police custody were treated like suspected terrorists. Their killers did not behave like community police in a neighborhood. They behaved like members of an occupation force in militarily occupied territory.
We are sending law enforcement leaders from communities across the United States to learn occupation force tactics and strategies from security operatives affiliated with the illegal occupation of Palestine. U.S. tax dollars have financed and supplied the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine since 1967. U.S. tax dollars provide diplomatic cover for it in the United Nations. U.S. tax dollars are spent sending state and local law enforcement leaders to Israel where they learn to unjustly treat us like suspected terrorists, the same way Israeli security personnel are trained to unjustly treat Palestinian men, women, and youth.
We are subsidizing tyranny and fascism by Israel against Palestinians. We are sending U.S. state and local law enforcement leaders to Israel where they learn to use occupation force methods and tactics of tyranny and fascism against poor and communities of color in the United States.
Politely speaking, that is “messed up.”