Two professional associations of police leaders and chief law enforcement officers in Georgia have condemned the virulently anti-Israel and undeniably antisemiticDeadly Exchange” campaign.

That campaign, led by ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’, falsely blames Israel and American Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), for U.S. domestic police practices and problems in minority communities.

In numerous prior posts we’ve written about this vile “Deadly Exchange” initiative, which aims to exploit preexisting and unrelated domestic racial tensions to stoke hatred of Jews by blaming Jews, all in the service of building an anti-Israel coalition.

As we discussed, the campaign was launched several years ago by the anti-Jewish and anti-peace extremist organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). It’s now being heavily promoted by many pro-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) organizations based in the U.S.

Police departments across the country are coming under increasing pressure to end their relationships and exchange programs with Israel, but so far there’s been little if any push back.

Primarily that’s because JVP and its allies have been able to operate with a lot of “behind-the-scenes lobbying” and can work fast with “little public notice”.

Basically, they’ve been able to count on well-meaning people having little understanding of modern policing challenges. This makes it easier for JVP to promote “Deadly Exchange” as in the “best interests” of cities and to present it as consistent with progressive values and the larger progressive agenda.

Now all that could be about to change.

With two major professional police associations in Georgia coming out to denounce the campaign, other groups with expertise on homeland security and civil defense may follow suit. If that happens, JVP will no longer face an empty playing field when it comes to promoting its discriminatory and defamatory propaganda.

Below I provide an overview of these two critical statements issued by Georgia law enforcement experts. I also document the targeting of the Georgia Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE), a relatively little-known, nearly decade-long effort by a coalition of Atlanta’s vehemently anti-Israel and pro-BDS groups to close a university-based program on account of it involving exchanges with Israel.

https://gilee.gsu.edu/

[Credit: GILEE; posted with permission]

A statement from GILEE’s founding director, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at Georgia State University Robert (Robbie) Friedmann, is also included below.

Background: Jewish Voice for Peace’s “Deadly Exchange” campaign  

Trading in antisemitic canards and tropes about Jewish money and power, “Deadly Exchange” has been widely condemned from the start, including by left-wing critics of Israel who have said that it makes them sick to their stomachs:

Despite this, as we’ve documented, the campaign has been making steady inroads at the local municipal level, More Demonization: Jewish Voice for Peace leading effort to ban DC police training in Israel.

Last spring, JVP activists and allied anti-Israel BDS groups successfully lobbied the Durham, N.C. City Council to issue a declaration banning their city’s police from training with Israel, Demonization: Durham NC City Council bans police exchanges with Israel.

And earlier this month the Vermont State Police and the Northampton, Mass. police departments withdrew from a 10-day ADL-sponsored junket to Israel after JVP-led coalitions of local residents there managed to convince public officials that it wasn’t “in the best interests of the community” for the police officials to attend.

Two Georgia police associations denounce “Deadly Exchange”

Statements (see here and here) released on December 14th and December 19th by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police (GACP) and the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association respectively, are clearly meant to prevent the kinds of outcomes that happened in Durham, N.C., Vermont, and Northampton, Mass. from happening in Georgia, where one of the largest if not the largest police exchange training program has been based for the past 26 years.

Specifically, the statements offer “full support” and backing to the Georgia Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE), a program founded in 1992 and housed at Georgia State University (GSU). For nearly three decades, the program has sent thousands of American police officials to Israel and other countries for counter-terrorism training. It’s reportedly carried out over 450 programs to date and has provided special briefings to over 32,000 law enforcement officers.

https://gilee.gsu.edu/

These recently released police association statements will for sure be useful to GILEE, which has been relentlessly opposed for nearly a decade by a coalition of pro-BDS organizations in Atlanta.

As I document further below, they’ve campaigned both on and off the GSU campus to have GILEE shuttered.

https://gilee.gsu.edu/

But the statements are also likely to have an impact far beyond GILEE, Georgia State University, or the state of Georgia. That’s because, to the best of our knowledge, the two statements are the first of their kind in terms of bringing the expert opinion of hundreds of state and local police leaders and elected sheriffs to bear on the “Deadly Exchange” propaganda.

So, these two statements are an important development in the effort to combat pressures on U.S. police departments to end their relationships with Israeli law enforcement. They’ll definitely be useful to pro-Israel groups and organizations that are now mobilizing to oppose JVP activists and their allies at the local level:

The GACP statement is titled “Statement of GACP Support for International Law Enforcement Exchange Training Programs”. The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association statement, more explicitly directed at defending GILEE, is simply titled “Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE)”.

https://georgiasheriffs.org/index.php/gilee

Both statements use a lot of the same language, so there likely was some advance coordination between them in the drafting of the statements.

In particular, both statements “reject claims” that GILEE’s and other professional exchange programs are “designed to oppress” minority populations or other groups. Both also insist that such claims are “fallacious and slanderous”.

The GACP statement specifically refers to “deadly exchange”, pointing out that its claims “lack any foundation in the facts or histories of such exchanges”. The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association statement doesn’t refer to the “Deadly Exchange” campaign by name, but its clear that this is what’s being repudiated when the statement lambasts “accusations” that “valuable international training exchanges lead to deadly encounters in the United States.”

Here are some of the relevant passages from the GACP statement: (emphasis added):

Police agencies around the world share similar concerns on how to address current and future challenges and improve law enforcement services to the community they serve. One of the most effective means of addressing these concerns is provided through professional peer-to-peer executive law enforcement exchanges with police agencies globally. The Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE), which is based in the State of Georgia, has provided exemplary service to our members and the policing profession…

The GACP emphatically rejects any claims that these professional programs are being used to train law enforcement in tactical or military operational techniques designed to oppress minorities or other members of their communities (characterized as “deadly exchange”). Not only do such claims lack any foundation in the facts or histories of such exchanges, but the inflammatory causal attribution that such training leads to deadly encounters in the US is utterly fallacious and slanderous. In fact, participants receive a better understanding of how to network with their citizenry and enhance the service delivery to these underserved communities.

The GACP appreciates GILEE’s long standing track record of delivery of high professional standards through its training programs in Georgia and around the world…The GACP is proud of its close association with GILEE and fully supports GILEE and Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies valuable contribution to public safety in the State and beyond.

The GACP is looking forward to continuing its productive relationship with GILEE for many years to come.”

Here are a few of the relevant passages from the Georgia Sheriff’s Association statement: (emphasis added):

Over the past twenty six years, one of the most insightful and beneficial training initiatives available to sheriffs’ offices has been the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE). This important peer-to-peer executive law enforcement training has enabled our sheriffs and command level staff to meet with law enforcement counterparts from more than twenty-five countries and twenty five other states for the purpose of exchanging ideas concerning best practices for effective and humane policing. The Association rejects all claims that these professional training exchanges include exercises of instruction relative to tactical or military operations designed to oppress minority populations or other specific groups. Accusations that these valuable international training exchanges lead to deadly encounters in the United States are fallacious and slanderous. Our sheriffs and staff have given the GILEE program tremendous praise and their continued support.

The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association greatly appreciates the continued opportunity to participate in the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange organized through Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. The initiative is meaningful to the safety of Georgians and it is our hope to continue our participation for many years to come.”

Beyond the denunciations of “Deadly Exchange” in these official documents, and their strong support for GILEE, it’s also important to note the sheer number of law enforcement professionals that have now lent their weight to a condemnation of this JVP-initiated campaign through these statements.

Founded in 1962, the GACP is the largest professional association of police leaders in Georgia with over 1,000 active members representing 535 state and local agencies. And the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association includes Georgia’s 159 elected sheriffs who are the chief law enforcement officers of each county throughout the state.

So, all these Georgia-based police leaders, and the boards of these two associations, have now denounced “Deadly Exchange” while also providing “unreserved endorsement” of a long-standing police exchange training program—GILEE.

The decade-long effort to shut down the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) at Georgia State University (GSU)

I first learned about GILEE when researching how Durham, North Carolina became the first U.S. city to ban their police from training in Israel. As I discussed in my prior post, Durham’s chief of police had attended a GILEE-sponsored exchange program in Israel and raved about her experiences as a participant in it—but that section of her memo was left out of the document that was eventually passed by the City Council.

At the time, I didn’t know much about the multiyear effort by Atlanta-based BDS groups to shut down the GILEE program at Georgia State University (GSU)—or the way that these groups developed the talking points that would years later become the basis for JVP’s “Deadly Exchange” campaign.

In a nutshell: for over ten years GILEE and its Founding Director, Prof. Robert Friedmann, have been in the crosshairs of a loosely-tied coalition of activists who have nothing in common—except that they’re united by a contempt for Israel.

My guess is that many anti-BDS advocacy groups aren’t aware of this sustained effort to undermine academic freedom on the GSU campus.

Below I document this effort to shut GILEE down, based on Atlanta media reports and coverage of the campaign in the GSU student newspaper (note: images in this section are of event flyers and posters that were publicly posted on the GSU campus, from online forum open to the public, and from local media coverage of the issues).

A campaign to shut GILEE down launches in summer 2009

Founded in 1992, GILEE is housed at Georgia State University’s (GSU) Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Over the years, it has trained thousands of police leaders by developing peer-to-peer exchanges with over 25 countries and over two dozen U.S. states. Here’s Atlanta’s police chief explaining how beneficial the exchange program has been for learning better strategies for enhancing security and safety in his city:

The policing exchange program is the brainchild of GSU criminologist Robert Friedmann, who was raised in Israel and came to the U.S. in the 1970s to study sociology. He established a highly-regarded scholarly record in the field of community policing while a professor in GSU’s Department of Criminal Justice, which he chaired for 13 years (until 2002).

GILEE was created initially to assist the local police force to secure the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The program then grew over the years to become an established exchange program for U.S. and Israeli police. Exchange programs with dozens of other countries for Georgia police leaders and for delegations from many other states were then also established.

[credit: GILEE; posted with permission]

Nobody at GSU seemed to have any problems with GILEE for years while it was continuing to grow and expand its services to U.S. law enforcement.

But in the summer of 2009 the Atlanta chapter of the virulently anti-Israel American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) began raising objections to GILEE in the message board of the online site Radical Reference. Specifically, various AFSC members began questioning why the program was housed at GSU and began to insist that more information on the GSU-GILEE relationship be provided.

In addition, the local AFSC chapter started asking about Friedmann’s role in GILEE. His service on various Atlanta boards, including the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce-Southeast Region, was also questioned. Disparaging remarks about Friedmann began to appear on the message forum, including one that noted: “He is very tight with the Atlanta Jewish Chamber of Commerce”.

In the winter of 2010 an online petition was launched titled “STOP GA-ISRAEL POLICE TRAININGS”. Addressed to GSU President Mark Becker and sponsored by GSU’s Progressive Student Alliance (PSA), the petition called for GILEE to be shut down.

The petition noted that the relationship between GILEE and GSU was “deeply troubling” due to the alleged “counterterror practices” of Israel which entail

a well-documented history of extrajudicial killings, racial profiling of Arabs, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees.”

It’s important to note that the petition didn’t only condemn Israel for alleged abuse of Palestinians. It also maintained that GILEE was trying to “implement violations of human rights here in Georgia.”

The petition insisted that given the “long and troubling history” of Atlanta police violating citizens rights, they had “nothing to learn from an apartheid state.”

So, the petition directly linked the effort to shut GILEE down with BDS campaigning in Atlanta. As the petition stated, “GSU has the courageous opportunity to stand for human rights by ending its business with Israel.”

The campaign to shut GILEE down comes onto the GSU campus

Apparently, the petition gathered only a few dozen signatures—and many of the signatories weren’t Georgia residents or even living in the U.S.

But the PSA must have seen the response as a success, because afterwards the anti-GILEE campaign began in earnest with various campus protests organized by the PSA in conjunction with the off-campus Movement to End Israeli Apartheid-Georgia (MEIAG).

These events directly connected the effort to shutter GILEE with the larger BDS and anti-Israel “divestment campaign”. Events covering issues like policing in the U.S. South, problems with the U.S. prison system, and Atlanta’s challenges with regard to incarceration rates were linked to the effort to “expose GILEE”, the Israeli National Police and the Israel’s “surveillance and incarceration of the indigenous Palestinian population.”

While the campaign against GILEE was ramping up on the GSU campus, the AFSC remained active on the issue off-campus. In September 2010, it hosted MEIAG at its offices. Most of the meeting was given over to the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident (Israeli actions were denounced at the session; new information that’s come to light shows that Israeli security forces acted appropriately given the degree of violence they faced from activists on the ship).

However, there was also a brainstorming session on how to collaborate to close down GILEE.

Later that month, AFSC and MEIAG collaborated on a “day of action” against GILEE.

During the Fall 2010 semester, GSU campus events hosted by the PSA and MEIAG described GILEE as a program of “enslavement” in Georgia and Israel.

Other promotional material identified the anti-GILEE effort as a BDS campaign which would be city and campus wide. “Shut It Down: Take a Bite Outta Apartheid!” became one of the memes of the campaign.

What’s important to note about the campaign promotional materials is how similar the messaging was to “Deadly Exchange”—a JVP campaign launched years later.

Like JVP’s “Deadly Exchange” propaganda, the material on the GSU campus stated that GILEE

facilitates exchanges between Georgia police departments and Israeli police departments, thus trading the use of racist, repressive tactics to use on our own communities.”

The material also claimed that “U.S. and Israeli police systems control people of color and Palestinian populations” and that GSU is thus “politically and morally obligated” to “eliminate GILEE”.

Critical articles about GILEE and the campaign to shut it down began appearing in the GSU campus newspaper in October 2010. Specifically, GILEE was criticized for receiving funding from private sources.

It’s important to note that, as the campaign against GILEE heated up, no other privately-funded programs on the GSU campus received any scrutiny that I could tell based on the media coverage on campus and in the Atlanta press.

In addition, GILEE’s many other exchange programs with other countries didn’t receive any focus—only the training program with Israel was singled out.

GSU faculty become involved in the campaign to shut GILEE down

In Fall 2010, the local AFSC chapter launched a campaign to “Help Shut Down GILEE and Take a Bite Out of Apartheid Right Now”. It called on friends from across the country to join this “critical national effort”. Here too, the promotional materials claimed that GILEE “supports violations of human rights against Palestinians”, including “policies and practices of apartheid, genocide, and occupation”, and has the “goal of implementing them in Georgia.”

A PSA-initiated rally against GILEE was organized on the GSU campus in October 2010 and a new petition reportedly garnered 900 signatures.

Then, a faculty letter was published in the student newspaper on October 19, 2010. It was signed by 15 professors from Religious Studies, English, Sociology and Women’s Studies. No faculty with expertise in Middle Eastern Studies, let alone security studies, homeland security, criminology, or terrorism studies were signatories.

The letter expressed support for the student protesters and insinuated that GILEE may “run counter to the values of GSU”. The letter acknowledged that Israel allegedly “flagrantly violates international law”, so housing GILEE puts the campus in a “uncomfortable position”. The faculty letter also called for the administration to meet with the PSA representatives to address their concerns.

According to Friedmann, GSU’s President did agree to meet with the protesting students—but he rejected their request to have GILEE banned from campus.

In addition, Georgia’s Governor Purdue also reportedly weighed in to publicly endorse GILEE, stating that

Learning from expertise of Israel’s law enforcement community in combating terror will help Georgia law enforcement better protect our citizens.”

The campaign to shut GILEE down gets more sophisticated

Also in 2010, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, now the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), endorsed the MEIAG campaign to shutter GILEE (MEIAG is a member group of the USCPR).

Having this national umbrella organization and leading BDS promoter endorse and promote the campaign garnered the Atlanta-based BDS activists a lot more attention—and likely financial resources too. More events were held and new slickly-produced flyers and brochures began appearing on campus in the following months:

Then, on April 7, 2011, during Hillel’s annual Israel Fest celebration on the GSU campus, an Israeli flag was found in the campus urinal:

That same day, the virulently anti-Israel Electronic Intifada website had published an op-ed by Hira Mahmoud and Wafa Azari highlighting police training programs that “twin” U.S. and Israeli “racism”. The campaign against GILEE was prominently featured (In the article, Mahmoud was identified as a GSU student and BDS activist studying English literature; Azari was described as an “Atlanta organizer” for MEIAG).

By this time, MEIAG and GSU’s Progressive Student Alliance were boasting that 18 Atlanta-based groups and over 1,200 individual activists have “built, cultivated, and sustained a growing coalition to eliminate GILEE from GSU and ultimately from Atlanta.”

Georgia’s Attorney General denies open records request in 2011

In May 2011, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens denied an open records request by the GSU’s Progressive Student Alliance, which had petitioned to obtain information about GILEE’s training programs including the “names of officers” who had attended—so that they could “link them” to “abuses” committed later in Georgia.

At a press conference on June 6, 2011, a PSA member and GSU student explained what had prompted the FOIA request: “We don’t want police officers learning to torture people”.

Olens rejected the open records request on the grounds that releasing the information about participants and itineraries could jeopardize the safety of both Israeli and U.S. law enforcement personnel during their travels and trainings.

The campaign against GILEE appeared to die down significantly in the aftermath of the denial of the FOIA request. In May 2013, the MEIAG and Atlanta’s AFSC chapter held yet another event to “shut down police exchanges with apartheid Israel”. Several other events continued into the fall, urging Atlanta residents to “stand against police brutality and oppression” by working to shut down GILEE.

But there weren’t any more events on the GSU campus for a few years. Even off campus, the campaign seemed to have petered out too—until Atlanta-based Black Lives Matter groups began to re-engage on the issue.

The attempt to shutter GILEE continues

In July 2016, ALTisREADY—a coalition connected to Black Lives Matter—submitted a series of demands to Atlanta’s mayor Kasim Reed. The very first demand was to terminate the city police department’s involvement with GILEE which “trains our officers in Apartheid Israel”.

The mayor reportedly responded (see also the video below) that

I’m not going to do that; I happen to believe that the Israeli police department has some of the best counterterrorism techniques in the world, and it benefits our police department from that longstanding relationship.”

But despite this strong endorsement of GILEE, the campaign against it has continued.

Most likely it’s been reinvigorated by JVP’s “Deadly Exchange”. In fact, with “Deadly Exchange” in full swing by last year, calls to shutter GILEE have increased.

In January 2017, Georgia’s January 20th coalition launched a campaign to demand that Atlanta be declared a sanctuary city. Among the organization’s demands was that the city also stop participating in GILEE’s exchange program to Israel. According to the group:

GILEE is a racist program that militarizes Atlanta’s police force, perpetuates racial profiling tactics and is a blatant abuse of our tax dollars.”

At a July 2017 rally outside of Atlanta’s Israeli consulate, an intersectional group of activists—JVP, the Georgia Green Party, BLM-Atlanta, and the Georgia chapter of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations)—came together to again call on Mayor Reed to stop sending Atlanta’s police officers to Israel.

Then, on May 15, 2018, a march to “denounce Israel” for the violence at the border with Gaza also saw GILEE disparaged. Organized by CAIR-Georgia, BLM-Atlanta, the Atlanta chapter of JVP and ten other local groups, some 400 activists gathered to chant “From the River, to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free”—a slogan that, as we noted a recent post, is in fact a centuries-old rallying cry for the ethnic cleansing of Jews.

https://www.cairgeorgia.com/press-releases/503-hundreds-of-georgians-march-in-protest-of-trump-embassy-move-israeli-govt-s-massacre-of-gaza-protesters.html

https://www.cairgeorgia.com/press-releases/503-hundreds-of-georgians-march-in-protest-of-trump-embassy-move-israeli-govt-s-massacre-of-gaza-protesters.html

At this “emergency protest”, a JVP representative reportedly noted that Israel’s self-defense policies in Gaza are “stealing the soul out of being Jewish—out of speaking and praying in Hebrew.” A Palestinian Christian Reverend in the Presbyterian Church USA also reportedly declared Israel’s “occupation of Palestine” to be a “violation of God”.

The event reportedly also included a candlelight vigil, complete with memorial placards with the names of the Palestinians killed at the Israel-Gaza border embossed on them (as we have noted in many prior posts, the vast majority of those killed by the IDF in the recent hostilities at the border have in fact been militants and terrorist operatives).

In the midst of all this ugliness, the executive director of CAIR-Georgia Edward Ahmed Mitchell held forth to the crowd about the need to shut down GILEE.

[credit: Facebook]

He began by connecting the plight of Palestinians to South African apartheid and to the U.S. civil rights movement, claiming “Segregation ended, apartheid ended, the occupation of Palestine will end too”. Then Mitchell said that

our Atlanta police officers are traveling to Israel, training in urban policing and bringing it back here…American police officers must serve and protect, not occupy and control”.

Mitchell called for the cheering audience to “do something right here in Atlanta”, namely by making sure that the GILEE program “comes to an end”.

His entire speech was posted to Facebook and can be viewed here.

Exclusive LI statement from Dr. Robert R. Friedmann, GILEE Founding Director

I reached out to Robbie Friedmann, GILEE’s founding director, to find out more about his views of the “Deadly Exchange” campaign. Friedmann sent me the statement below via email. It’s an excellent takedown of JVP’s bogus “research” about U.S.-Israel police exchanges, and well worth the read:

The so-called Deadly Exchangeresearch report” issued by Jewish Voice for Peace and RAIA [Researching the American-Israeli Alliance] is anything but. It is not research and there is no deadly exchange. Period. This “research” has three major flaws:

First, it is mired with anti-Israel rhetoric and propaganda rendering its “findings” suspect, invalid and lacking any credibility. The seemingly pretentious care for citizens and communities is rather hypocritical. The underlying premise of Deadly Exchange campaign is not the desire for better police performance nor improved service to the community. Rather, it is how to undermine Israel’s right to exist. Its anti-Israel predilection is a blinder to anything positive in connection with Israel. It uses claims against the police exchanges with Israel as a front for a far more sinister mission that fits the objectives of the BDS movement.

Second, the “methodology” used in the “research” reported by JVP-RAIA would not receive a passing grade in any introductory undergraduate research methods course of any reputable university. It violates everything and anything that methodologists teach. Facts are distorted, the design does not lend itself for any scientific verification and the “evidence” brought is selective, twisted, taken out of context, and its conjectures are baseless. Their research “design” is lacking any principles of social science research and the “findings” could not be replicated, making them simply unacceptable.

Third, if there is one area where (social) scientists are careful when making strong concluding statements it is causation. There is a difference between associational relationships and causal ones. A & B may appear together but that does not mean that A causes B. What this campaign’s “research” has done is paint the target where it wanted it and then bring in “supportive evidence” to prove its “conclusions” and charges. Any research done in this way is faulty, rendering its findings unacceptable, and unsuitable for designing social or public policy.

To make the point clear: Deadly Exchange is a malicious concocted hoax that marshals propaganda disguised as research data and findings. Its choice and interpretation of the scholarly work it relies on is likewise problematic and one-sided. But Deadly Exchange is a hoax not only because the research is faulty; one could argue that a better designed research could still corroborate their charges. It is a hoax simply because reality defies its claims.

The JVP-RAIA “research” is replete with unsubstantiated claims. However, it’s worth examining one specific example where a fact mentioned in the report is actually correct. The report claims that “…Following visits to Israel by the Atlanta Police, the department created a Video Integration Center, collecting and monitoring footage from the city’s system of thousands of public and private cameras. The department reported that the center is modeled after the command and control center in the Old City of Jerusalem and mimics Israeli methods to proactively monitor crime.” But for minor inaccuracies (it was only a single visit; the Israeli center monitors public safety, crime and terrorism, while the Atlanta center focuses mostly on crime and public safety) the claim is indeed factual. Former Chief George Turner has proudly acknowledged that much.

The JVP-RAIA report then makes two claims: 1) that Israeli high tech companies profit from proliferating surveillance technology, and that they influence Israeli government surveillance policy and have a strong US market; and 2) “Israel has in fact perfected a system of invasive monitoring of all Palestinians in all places, with the goal of controlling the entire Palestinian population.” Namely, the camera system is being used to oppress minorities – Palestinians in Israel – and by virtue of their implementation in Atlanta – to oppress local minorities. So according to JVP-RAIA, profiting from manufacturing high tech is not legitimate when Israel (i.e., Israeli companies) does it and exporting such knowhow to the US somehow results in the oppression of minorities. Would British, Finnish, French, Korean and other high tech exports be perceived in the same manner? Are they oppressive as well? Any reasonable person would have a hard time understanding why cameras in public places pose an oppressive threat of any kind, particularly when they are prevalent everywhere in law abiding societies.

Here is some basic surveillance context to debunk the JVP-RAIA “research”:

  1. The camera monitoring system in the Old City of Jerusalem has been used not only to monitor terrorist knifings and shootings but also serves to prevent crime and the disruption of public order. It is essential in a small city (1 very dense square kilometer) that is visited by millions every year. Police forces around the globe routinely do this. The JVP-RAIA report ignores the fact that the most extensive CCTV camera system is in the City of London where every human being in public (and private) space is filmed. This system was initiated, and is operated, by British authorities—not by Israelis (even if some Israeli technology is indeed relied upon, as the British did recently when deploying an Israeli developed and manufactured anti drone system at Gatwick airport). The technology is used not because it is “oppressive” but because it does the job while still protecting civil rights and the law.
  2. The Old City cameras are also used for criminal surveillance. A case in point: a young Palestinian man who had sexually molested two Palestinian girls in the middle of an empty Old City street was convicted in court based on the video footage. This actually served the Palestinian public and its trust in the camera system increased.
  3. Indeed, Atlanta has the Video Integration Center and it serves the city very well. It is ranked as the top 8th convention city in the US and if crime downtown will be rampant then Atlanta will lose one of its major economic engines. So, crime control is a must. No one is being charged nor prosecuted for walking to work or for taking a lunch break across the street, but the camera system has been effective in the prevention and prosecution of crime.
  4. As a good example of a productive exchange, consider that the Israel Police studied the Atlanta VIC to see how public and private cameras can be integrated, and it plans to implement this system in the entire city of Jerusalem for the safety of all citizens and visitors alike.

In sum, the JVP-RAIA’s report is methodologically deficient and logically indefensible. The professional police organizations involved in exchanges with Israel have unanimously praised the knowledge and expertise that they have gained in such exchanges, knowledge that contributes to effective and fair law enforcement.

Police departments are the epitome of human rights organizations. They save lives and provide public safety. When officers violate departmental policies and the oath of office they need to be held accountable for their transgression, as is done in any country that is governed by the rule of law. Slandering police and countries will do little to improve the lot of minorities”.

Conclusion 

Last week, Northampton, Mass. Mayor David Narkewicz said that the city’s decision not to send its police chief to an ADL counterterrorism seminar in Israel “did not constitute a boycott of Israel by Northampton.”

In addition, Narkewicz said that he took the step to withdraw from the ADL-sponsored police program “following conversations with local Jewish leaders” who were concerned about the “broader implications of the move”. Noting that “it was really about the specific trip itself”, the Mayor remarked that “it’s a complex issue”—and that’s why he decided to cancel.

The Mayor’s comments nicely underscore how BDS coalitions are today working at the municipal level to hoodwink uninformed public officials into thinking that shuttering police trainings in Israel is good for the community and isn’t actually part of the “larger boycott of Israel”.

The reality—as is clear from the nearly decade long campaign to target the GILEE law enforcement exchange program at Georgia State University—is that the on-campus and off-campus organizers and promoters of these initiatives definitely do see them as part of the larger anti-Israel BDS boycott effort—and they present them as such.

That’s been the case in terms of the attacks on GILEE, and its also been the way in which the “victories” in Durham, Northampton, and Vermont have been viewed. For example, a recent list compiled by the BDS movement included the city of Northampton, Mass. and the state of Vermont pulling out of an ADL-hosted police training junket in Israel as among “18 highlights of BDS impact in 2018”.

The Northampton Mayor’s remarks also point to the need for more endorsements of U.S.-Israel police exchange programs, especially by homeland security and civil defense experts and professional associations of American police leaders. They’re critical to have, so that when public officials get lobbied aggressively by local JVP activists and their allies they’ll be less likely to fall prey to the “shameful and despicable” propaganda being peddled.

Contrary to Mayor Narkewicz’s statement, the issue of police training in Israel for senior U.S. law enforcement officials isn’t in any way a complicated or “complex issue.”

It’s actually very simple: American police forces have a lot to learn, in terms of tips and techniques and expert technical advice, from a country that has had significantly more experience dealing with terror, active shooter incidents, and emergency medicine and evidence collection following mass casualty events.

Bottom line: the Anti-Defamation League and GILEE aren’t conspiring with Israel to train American police so that they can better “target and harm U.S. minorities”. More professional associations of police leaders should follow the lead of their counterparts in Georgia to denounce these disgusting claims as hateful to Jews—and offensive to the dedicated officers who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep all Americans safe.

Miriam F. Elman is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Inaugural Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She is the editor of five books and the author of over 65 journal articles, book chapters, and government reports on topics related to international and national security, religion and politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also frequently speaks and writes on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement. Recently, Elman was included on the Algemeiner newspaper’s 2018 list of the top 100 people worldwide who are “positively influencing Jewish life.” Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @MiriamElman

 
 
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