BDS successfully lobbies US police to cancel Israel trip

28th Dec 2018
BDS successfully lobbies US police to cancel Israel trip

(Logo: Wiki Commons)

Nadine Osman

Lobbying from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) affiliated groups in New England has successfully resulted in two US police departments cancelling their 20-year-running training visits to Israeli police forces.

The Vermont State Police and the Northampton Police Department in Massachusetts cancelled their annual training seminars in Israel days before it was due to start.

A number of groups in opposition to the programme, including some affiliated with the BDS movement, mounted pressure on the local police forces to back out of the trip over increasing concerns about US law enforcement’s treatment of asylum seekers in the country.

The Vermont National Lawyers Guild, the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, announced that Vermont State Police Director Colonel Birmingham cancelled the trip in response to a petition created against it.

“After a meeting with concerned Pioneer Valley residents, Northampton Mayor Narkewicz withdrew Police Commissioner Kasper from the same trip,” said the group in a joint statement released on November 29.

Kathy Shapiro, spokeswoman for Vermonters for Justice in Palestine told The Muslim News, “We are extremely gratified that this trip and one in Northampton, Massachusetts, were cancelled due to citizen pressure.

Vermonters for Justice in Palestine worked very closely with activists from Jewish Voice for Peace’s Deadly Exchange Campaign, as well as bringing together a diverse group of social and racial justice organisations to support our petition.”

“These groups represent people of colour, immigrants and other minorities who are particularly targeted by racial profiling, police collaboration with federal immigration authorities and a rigged criminal justice system.

They understand that sending our state police to train with the Israeli military and police who are the instruments of oppression of Palestinians is something that will make them less safe, and are also relieved and grateful that this Director of State Police listened to their concerns,” she said.

The programme, called Resilience and Counter-Terrorism, was first created in 2002 and entails a week-long seminar in Israel where US law enforcement trains with Israeli military, police and secret service.

It is funded and organised by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the decision marks the first time police departments decided to cancel their trip in the programme ’s nearly 20 years.

Previous participants to the programme include the former Deputy Director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with other top-ranking law enforcement officials, according to JVP.

The ADL told the Haaretz that the programme did not provide tactical training to US officers, but would train them to “enhance their effectiveness in preventing and responding to extremism and terrorist threats and violence.”

Organisers declared the decision a victory against the ADL-funded programme and then sent a letter to the Boston Police Department to follow suit. “The tactics taught are inhumane and are used in the continued killing and oppression of communities of colour across the nation and the globe.

Law enforcement and elected officials should understand that we as a community are watching and will hold them accountable for their actions,” Mark Hughes, Director of the group Justice for All, said on JVP’s website.

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