At group calling itself Atlanta is Ready (#ATLisREADY), aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement, recently issued a set of demands to the Mayor of Atlanta, including:

We demand a termination to APD’s involvement in the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) program, that trains our officers in Apartheid Israel

The Mayor rejected the demand, finding that counter-terrorism training benefits the Atlanta Police Department’s ability to protect Americans:

You could chalk this incident up to just some isolated ploy by local activists, but that would be a mistake.

Rather, there has been a multi-year effort by left-wing and Islamist anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and openly anti-Semitic activists to hijack racial tensions in the United States and redirect that anger towards Israel.

That effort has been on overdrive since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and is accomplished through a combination of false and misleading statements regarding the militarization of domestic U.S. police departments and U.S. police training in Israel.

The intellectual rubric is “intersectionality,” by which anti-Israel activists try to forge links with minority (particularly black) activists by holding out Israel as the key link to oppression around the globe.

Sometimes the results are truly twisted, such as at Columbia University, How student activists turned anti-rape group into an anti-Israel group.

We demonstrated how, in Ferguson, anti-Israel activists embedded themselves in the protest crowds and ran their own protests fomenting violence, Intifada Missouri – Anti-Israel activists may push Ferguson over the edge:

As much tension as there is, an underreported story is the active role of “pro-Palestinian” activists who have exploited the Ferguson riots and tension this summer and fall to push their anti-Israel agenda. That anti-Israeli agenda, which involves encouraging confrontation with police in solidarity with Palestinians, is helping provide the accelerant to an already volatile situation.

Rania Khalek, an author at Electronic Intifada and self-described journalist, and others spread the false claim that Israel trained the Ferguson police:

The key is to understand that this is a long-term strategy to redirect and sometimes provoke racial tension against Israel and its supporters, not a series of isolated incidents.


Max Blumenthal’s Theory of Israeli Militarization of U.S. Police

It’s hard to know precisely where conspiracy theories about Israeli police training started. In 2009, Electronic Intifada was pushing the theme.

When it comes to anti-Israel conspiracy theories, however, Max Blumenthal is never far away.

In December 2011, Blumenthal wrote in the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar English, From Occupation to “Occupy”: The Israelification of American Domestic Security:

The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.

Blumenthal appeared on Putin-friendly Russia Today to discuss his theories:

Blumenthal’s conspiracy claims were spread in Daily Kos, Raw Story, Electronic Intifada, Veterans Today and Salem Today, among others.

The Reality of Militarization of U.S. Police and Israel

It is preposterous to blame Israeli counter-terrorism training for the militarization of U.S. police, much less how a specific police officer acted in a particular situation. Only a miniscule and almost unmeasurable percentage of U.S. police are trained in Israel.

There are several hundred police training academies in the U.S. training tens of thousands of police in the U.S., compared to a few hundred (at most) police who participate in Israeli counter-terrorism training. That Israeli training is focused on counter-terrorism, and usually involves police chiefs who visit Israel for a week of combined seminars and tourism.

By contrast, The Bureau of Justice Statistics, a U.S. government agency, reports as of 2006 [pdf. here]:

A total of 648 state and local law enforcement training academies were providing basic training to entry-level recruits at year end 2006, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, announced today. An estimated 57,000 recruits entered basic training at these academies during 2005. Eighty-six percent of recruits successfully completed training and graduated from the academy.

The average cost of operating a training academy totaled $1.3 million during 2005. Academies spent an estimated $16,000 per successful recruit.

Nearly all academies trained recruits for careers as local police officers (92 percent), and many academies trained recruits who were hired as sheriffs’ deputies (70 percent) or campus police officers (50 percent). Some academies also trained recruits for careers as state police officers (21 percent), constables (16 percent), tribal police officers (15 percent), natural resources officers (15 percent), or transportation police officers (14 percent).

Those numbers do not even include training by the federal government (pdf.)

So the likelihood is somewhere close to zero that any cop who is involved in a shooting (much less an unjustified shooting) was trained in Israel and the Israeli training contributed to the shooting.

Prof. Mark LeVine, a harsh critic of Israel, wrote in Al-Jazeera how blaming Israel for U.S. police militarization was misleading and baseless:

In 2001, shortly after 9/11, I wrote a column asking, “We’re all Israelis now?” That question resonated with U.S. law enforcement agencies, which see Israel as the vanguard of the fight against Muslim terrorism. But as with the argument that Israel’s lobby determines U.S. foreign policy priorities, Israel usually follows the parameters set by U.S. political and strategic elites, not the other way around. For example, the U.S. did not need Israel to reallocate tens of billions of dollars toward domestic defense. Similarly, the half a billion dollars in military weapons given to local police forces through the Department of Defense’s 1033 grants program — a surplus the army was happy to be rid of — was not a result of Israel’s lobbying. It was a natural extension of local law enforcement’s decades-long relationship with the military.

Rather than comparing Ferguson to Israel’s heavy-handed conduct in Gaza and the West Bank, Americans should instead examine their own country’s history of militarized policing. In the aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. military-industrial complex has done pretty well on its own to capitalize on the so-called war on terrorism. As the American Civil Liberties Union described in a 2012 report and again this June, these synergies are part of the dangerous precedents that brought “the war [on terrorism] home.” ….

In fact, the roots of the police violence seen in Ferguson go well beyond the Israel-Palestinian conflict. They lie in Vietnam, inner-cities and the farmlands of California’s Central Valley. The militarization of police and the concomitant view that treats minority communities as enemies needing to be pacified rather than citizens to be served professionally began in the 1960s with the confluence of four factors.

First, the assertiveness of the civil rights movement, particularly the shift toward black militancy after urban riots in several black neighborhoods such as Watts, led major urban police departments to search for more powerful tools to control and pacify potentially insurgent populations. Second, the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency tactics employed in Vietnam were brought to bear on the “urban jungles” and the growing anti-war movement, which was considered a major threat to the ongoing prosecution of the war. Third, the government felt the need to police the growing movement for labor rights, as epitomized by the response to the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) strikes in Delano, California, in 1965.

In fact, a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team was used for the very first time against the Cesar Chavez–led UFW strike of 1965. The deployment inspired Darryl Gates, then an inspector at the Los Angeles Police Department, to push for making SWAT a major part of his unit. It laid a solid foundation for the rise of militarized policing in the United States.

Fourth, the war on drugs, which was launched in 1971 by president Richard Nixon and focused on communities that were already targeted by SWAT teams; the law and order ethos of the Reagan era, which led to the (increasingly privatized) prison industrial complex; and the militarization of the U.S. southern border with the rise of anti-immigrant hysteria exacerbated militarized policing, with truly damaging results for American society. The concept gained even more momentum after 9/11. In 1985 only one quarter of cities with more than 25,000 inhabitants had SWAT teams. By 2005 this number had grown to more than 80 percent, conducting more than 50,000 annual raids, in part because the federal government requires the military equipment given to municipal police departments be used within one year or returned.

Interestingly, the LeVine article was edited to correct that false statement spread by Khalek and others about the alleged Israeli training of Ferguson police:

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated without evidence that Ferguson police officers had received training in Israel. The text has been amended. We regret the error.

Israeli Policing is an Anti-Israel Talking Point

Israel’s alleged responsibility for U.S. police violence now is a regular left-wing and Islamist anti-Israel talking point. Here are some examples:

Those allegations also became part of the Black Lives Matter movement.  We have documented for years now how anti-Israeli activists such as former Stanford student Kristian Davis Bailey have worked tirelessly to blame Israel for minority community problems in the U.S. by hijacking Black Lives Matter protests, such as this one on the San Mateo Bridge.

https://twitter.com/SiliconShutdown/status/557500834263478274/photo/1

A statement he helped organize specifically tied Israel to U.S. policing, More than 1,000 Black Activists Sign Statement of Support for Palestine

Today, a group of more than 1,000 black activists, scholars, artists and students released a statement on Palestine. In the 2015 Black Solidarity Statement with Palestine, the coalition says:

…. And while the US and Israel would continue to oppress us without collaborating with each other, we have witnessed police and soldiers from the two countries train side-by-side.

Sterling and Castile Shootings Spark Allegations Against Israel

There is no indication that Israel had any connection to the shooting deaths by local police officers  of Alton Sterling (in Baton Rouge, LA) and Philando Castile (near St. Paul, MN). However, as described above, anti-Israel activists already were primed to turn such incidents against Israel.

The New York University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine posted on Facebook that Israel was to blame for the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Yair Rosenberg at The Tablet Mag broke the story, including a screeshot of the July 7 NYU-SJP post:

NYU SJP Alton Sterling

NYU-SJP’s attempt to clarify it’s post only made things worse

Other social media spread the allegations as well. Australian anti-Israel activist and writer CJ Werleman had one of the most disgusting examples, showing a photo of the dead and bloodied Sterling and blaming Israeli training:

CJ Werleman Twitter Baton Rouge Shooting Israel

But there were plenty of others to go around. Cartoonist Mike Flugennock created this cartoon, which he shared on Twitter, with this description incorporating many of the links from above:

If you’ve noticed, in the past few years, that the behavior and tactics of American police resemble those ofIsraeli police and soldiers, you’d be right — and these tactics have come into even sharper focus with the murder of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Minneapolis, Minnesota recently.

Military occupation tactics, collective punishment, terrorizing and brutalizing neighborhoods, shooting kids for throwing stones — filthy, bloody Israel taught U.S. police everything they know.

https://mobile.twitter.com/flugennock/status/755054993779068928

What’s this all about?

Well, for one thing, this movement to blame Israel for minority deaths in the U.S. is not about Israeli training of police. There is no connection. Whatsoever.

Rather, it’s an attempt to exploit racial tensions unrelated to Israel and to stoke hate particularly in the black community. I laid it all out in a post in May 2015, Study documents correlation between campus anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism:

For several years I have been documenting anti-Israel activity on campus, typically part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and carried out by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

At the same time, I’ve pointed out many instances where such anti-Israel activity crossed-over into overt anti-Semitism, including at places like Oberlin and Vassar. (And that’s putting aside whether the radical extremist anti-Israelism itself is anti-Semitic.)

So the correlation between anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism seems obvious. When the only Jewish-majority nation in the world is demonized and dehumanized based on factual falsehoods and distortions under standards applied to no one else, it is no surprise that the hate manifests itself in hatred not just of Israel, but of Jews….

The relatively new concept of intersectionality has made things even worse, as Israel and Israel alone is held up as the link between evils committed by others in distant locations. The international Jew is held up as a unique cause of evil in the world.

Don’t think these are just stupid tactics. There is an ugly methodology behind it.

[Featured Image: Cartoon by Mike Flugennock, cropped]