Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories enters its 54th year, making it the longest running belligerent military occupation in modern times, and thus affording it a unique understanding into what it takes to repress, suppress, and dominate a stressed population that yearns for equality, justice, and emancipation.
Its occupation management, counterterrorism, border protection, and anti-narcotic strategies have made Israeli police and security forces the most revered in the world, allowing the Middle Eastern state to profit from exporting its know-how and experience abroad, particularly to the world’s worst human rights violators, including China, Myanmar, India, and the United States.
It matters not that Amnesty International, and even the US State Department have accused Israeli police forces of carrying out extrajudicial murder, unlawful killings, torture, illicit surveillance, racial profiling, and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters. What matters to security forces around the world is Israel knows how to crush political resistance and dissent.
Israeli police brutality has been exported to cities, counties, and states’ police precincts all across the United States.
Israeli police brutality has been exported to cities, counties, and states’ police precincts all across the United States, including the Minneapolis Police Department, whose officers are responsible for the killing of George Floyd, the unarmed black man whose murder sparked the current nationwide protests in the US.
“When I saw the picture of killer cop Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd by leaning in on his neck with his knee as he cried for help and other cops watched, I remembered noticing when many Israeli soldiers began using this technique of leaning in on our chest and necks when we were protesting in the West Bank sometime in 2006,” Neta Golan, a Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of International Solidarity Movement, told The Morning Star.
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, thousands of US police officers have traveled to Israel for training, which has not only played a central role in the recent trend in the militarization of US police departments, but also has no doubt contributed to the upward spike in cases of police brutality, given Israeli security forces are trained for urban warfare and are given a license to kill.
In response to the public’s outcry over police brutality, a police department in North Carolina banned the training of its police officers by the Israeli military.
Last week and in response to the public’s outcry over police brutality, a police department in North Carolina banned the training of its police officers by the Israeli military; Durham Council voted unanimously to adopt the ban after 1,600 residents put their signatures to a petition.
“The Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Police have a long history of violence and harm against Palestinian people and Jews of color,” the “Demilitarize! From Durham2Palestine” petition said. “These tactics further militarize US police forces that train in Israel, and this training helps the police terrorize black and brown communities here in the US.”
Despite this isolated incidence of push back against Israeli military training, the fact remains that Israel has become the go to resource for governments that seek a solution for suppressing restless and harassed populations. To that end, Israel has successfully latched onto US “war on terror” discourse, which falsely portrays Muslim minorities as a threat to US security.
Israel has become the go to resource for governments that seek a solution for suppressing restless and harassed populations.
Already in 2015, the US Department of Justice released a damning report that documented “widespread constitutional violations, discriminatory enforcement, and culture of retaliation” within the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). According to Amnesty International, what was not emphasized was the fact that Baltimore police received training on crowd control and use of force and surveillance by Israel’s national police, military, and intelligence services.
“Baltimore law enforcement officials, along with hundreds of others from Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Washington state as well as the DC Capitol police have all traveled to Israel for training. Thousands of others have received training from Israeli officials here in the U.S.”
“Many of these trips,” Amnesty added, “are taxpayer funded while others are privately funded. Since 2002, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs have paid for police chiefs, assistant chiefs, and captains to train in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).”
When it comes to subjugating Muslim minorities – under the guise of fighting terrorism – Israel is the best of the worst offenders.
Indeed, when it comes to subjugating Muslim minorities in particular – under the guise of fighting terrorism – Israel, a “chronic human rights violator,” to borrow an Amnesty International designation, is the best of the worst offenders. Thus why China, Myanmar, and India have turned to the Israeli military for guidance in their respective efforts to repress Uyghur, Rohingya, and Kashmiri Muslim populations.
“Israel and India are partners in the battle against this scourge and there cannot be any compromise in the way against terrorism,” read a 2003 joint statement between then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari.
Since then Israel has not only provided India with weaponry and technology tailor made for suppressing Kashmiri liberation aspirations, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), laser range-finding and targeting equipment, and advanced air-to-ground weapons, but also Israeli intelligence agencies routinely travel to India to train their counterparts in counter-insurgency strategies.
“In style and character, the power structure and subsequent consolidation trend is quite similar to that followed by Israel against the Palestinians,” observes Shaid Lone, a journalist in Indian-administered Kashmir. “This utter disregard for human brotherhood, dignity, equality, liberty and freedom reveals how both countries are making a mockery of open government and how the global advocates of democracy maintain a criminal silence to protect their own economic and national interests.”
When the Myanmar military launched its operation to terrorize the country’s Muslim minority, Israel trained these forces.
In 2016, when the Myanmar military launched its operation to terrorize the country’s 1.3 million Muslim minority – the Rohingya – Israel armed and trained these forces, providing Yangon with more than 100 tanks, light weapons, and patrol boats, which have been an instrumental tool for attacking Rohingya fishermen.
In other words, Israel knowingly aided and abetted genocide. But Israel has a long history of arming and training oppressive regimes. It continued to provide apartheid South Africa with tanks, guns, and military advisors when the rest of the world had severed economic and military ties with the African nation, and it armed the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza when it was known he was murdering more than 500 of his people every day.
If the United States ever reaches the point in which it becomes truly serious about implementing genuine reform of its police departments and criminal justice system, then detaching police departments from methods and strategies used by Israeli security forces must be part of that reform. The crisis of police brutality cannot be resolved while thousands of cops are roaming American streets with ideas imparted upon by soldiers of a militarized apartheid state.
*The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Inside Arabia.