Tag Archives: police

US police violence: the Israeli connection

Anyone questioning the horrific instances of police shootings in the U.S. (most recently in Dallas when a white police officer shot and killed a black man in his own apartment), must be asking themselves “why?”  Why is law enforcement trigger happy, especially with people of color? Why is law enforcement often dressed in military garb, brandishing military-style weapons, and using excessive force with peaceful protesters?

APD police

Albuquerque Police Department officers 2011

If you don’t know what I’m talking about —- you are undoubtedly white and living in an upscale neighborhood.

Mapping police violence in the U.S. provides a startling visual, but the numbers alone are nauseating. The Washington Post’s searchable database shows that as of August 30, 2018, the police have killed 707 people. And the stats clearly demonstrate that U.S. law enforcement has a much higher number of police shootings compared to their peers in other countries.  Much higher.  Off the charts.

The reasons behind this police violence are numerous and complicated, but one factor may certainly be the training that U.S. law enforcement agencies receive in Israel.

A new report released in September 2018 (Deadly Exchange -The Dangerous Consequences of American Law Enforcement Trainings in Israel) highlights the old and well-established practice of joint law enforcement training between the US and Israel.

September 12, 2018 – From the acting Deputy Director of ICE to the current Chief of Police in Washington DC, from San Diego to Chicago to Atlanta, since 2002 thousands of American law enforcement officials have trained in Israel with Israeli police, military and the Shin Bet. And thousands more have participated in security conferences and workshops with Israeli military, law enforcement and security officials held in the U.S. But despite their branding as top-tier counter-terrorism experts, Israeli police and security agents regularly violate civil rights, and implement racist and deadly policies.

This is not new.

In 2016, I wrote about LEEP (Law Enforcement Exchange Program) (see earlier blog post here).  I had asked the Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission whether any of the APD officers were receiving joint training with their counterparts in Israel. As expected, I didn’t get an answer, and I never followed up with the promised FOIA request.

Now I have the answer.

Deadly-Exchange-Front-Cover-Mockup

In April 2011, the city of Albuquerque sent APD officers to Israel to learn from counter-terrorism experts. (See here.)

The intensive program incorporated formal presentations and briefings with site visits around the country to areas that have borne witness to terror attacks. They learned how Israel has prevented and responded to suicide bombings and terrorist attacks and how the nation protects its airports, shopping malls, and public events.

This searchable database shows which US law enforcement agencies have trained with Israeli law enforcement. The New Mexico State Police have also trained in Israel.

The State Police of New Mexico is among the departments that have sent delegates to Israel. Carlos Maldonado served as Chief of New Mexico State Police between 2003 and 2006. Chief Maldonado attended a training in Israel with JINSA as a delegate of the LEEP program in 2005.

New Mexico State Police is also one of the departments that uses Israeli private-sector technology. Private Israeli security firms have contracts with both public and private security sectors. One of the private security companies that transfer technology to US police departments is the Israel-based Cellebrite. Cellebrite is a “mobile forensics” firm that manufactures data extraction, transfer and analysis devices for cellular phones and mobile devices for law enforcement, military and intelligence, and corporate customers.

The department spent $33,389.92 to crack into phones using Israeli tech firm Cellebrite, according to public record requests by Motherboard. New Mexico State Police uses Cellebrite’s technology to bypass phone passwords and security mechanisms to retrieve call logs, text messages, and in some cases even deleted data.

So if you thought the ongoing, daily violence perpetrated by the Israeli security and military on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has no relevance to Americans who have never set foot outside of the U.S. — think again.

CASE STUDY: On a police training exchange in Israel, the Boston Police Commissioner visited Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, where he learned about Israel’s passenger screening process, including racial and ethnic profiling of passengers. Shortly after, Boston’s Logan airport became the first American airport to pioneer the Israeli inspired Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program. Years later, SPOT not only came under fire for being ineffective and wasteful, but also for facilitating discriminatory racial profiling at airports around the country.

Revealed: Deputy Director of ICE was sent for training with the Israeli military.

CASE STUDY: Developed by Israeli police and manufactured by the Israeli company Odortec, “Skunk” is a foul-smelling liquid designed to cause nausea and linger for days when sprayed at high pressure onto protesters at demonstrations. Based on its proven effectiveness against Palestinian protests – particularly in West Bank village demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall – the American company Mistral Security began selling Skunk to U.S. police departments, including the St. Louis Metropolitan Police, following the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

 

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Filed under IDF, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Uncategorized, US Policy

Stand off in Cairo

I walked to the US Embassy this morning for my appointment with an official to discuss my travel to Gaza.  The security guard told me the Embassy was closed due to the current unrest and destruction from last night.  I didn’t take “no” for an answer, and pressed him with my need to travel to Gaza tomorrow.  He went inside and his superior came out and told me the same thing.  No luck today.  Maybe tomorrow.  Or maybe not.

The atmosphere near Tahrir Square today is both tense and calm.  Seems odd but that’s what it feels like.  Two sides are squared off.  Young men and boys in Tahrir Square throwing rocks at the Army (police?) and other Egyptians standing on the side of the Army watching, as spectators at a sporting event.

While the young people are provoking and trying to engage, the Army is watching, watching, watching …… and then they all run  en masse alongside the military vehicles shooting tear gas.

The human side of this confrontation was so real this morning.  The army personnel are all in uniform fully decked with weapons and shields, but they each appear calm and nonplussed.  Smoking a cigarette.  Distributing Sunkist drinks and eating bread.  Chatting with spectators while keeping a watchful eye on the demonstrators.

Where is this all headed?  What are the demonstrators trying to accomplish?  One middle-aged Egyptian told me that the demonstrators want to hear from President Morsi, but the President hasn’t appeared (shaking his heading).

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Filed under Egypt

La – La – La – No – No – No!

I am ANGRY . . . spitting angry.  Here’s why.

Early sunday morning I met my good friend in Cairo (a Palestinian professor in Gaza currently studying abroad).  He had just arrived at the airport and arranged a car to take us to the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza.  He was very excited about seeing his family again, and I was looking forward to seeing my friends in Gaza again.

At the border, my friend passed through the Egyptian gate with no fuss at all.  When it was my turn, my documents were taken from me and I was told to wait.  I waited and waited and waited.  Thirty minutes turned into an hour, turned into two hours, and at the end of the afternoon my papers were handed back to me and I was told that I didn’t have permission from Gaza to enter.  Bah-humbug!

Pulling my suitcase behind me, I waded through a sea of men trying to get my attention.  I was looking for a driver to take me back to a hotel in the small town near the border about 20 minutes away (Al-Arish).  I selected a driver standing next to his car, asked him how much, and we settled on a price.  He had one other passenger, a clean-looking man in his early 30s, who jumped into the back seat with me. 

As we drove off, I started to worry.  Traveling alone, with two men I didn’t know, in a strange land, with a language I couldn’t speak.  It all spelled trouble, and I began to think some horrible thoughts.  The other passenger kept looking at me trying to make eye contact.  I could see him out of the corner of my eye and refused to engage with him.   The minutes ticked on.  Then I felt his hand on my leg, and I yelled “STOP”!!   

The driver pulled to the side of the road immediately, stopped and the passenger got out and moved to the front seat without a word. 

After we dropped him off in Al-Arish, the driver asked me in broken English what had happened.  I explained, and he shook his head and told me the passenger was an Egyptian policeman — and “policemen are bad!”  He apologized and took me to my hotel.  On the way, he asked about my plans to go to Gaza; and he said he could drive me through the tunnel underneath the border for USD $200 if I have problems getting into Gaza the following day.

I was pissed and ready to call it quits!   Who needs this?  Egyptian border authorities telling me “NO!”   And Egyptian policemen telling me “YES!”  Screw them all!*!*!*!*!

But after a good night’s rest on a real mattress for the first time in nearly 5 months, and a good breakfast, and more official-looking papers faxed to me from Gaza giving me permission to enter, I returned confidently to the Rafah border.

I walked through the gate before the guard could stop me, handed him my passport and papers, and waited for him to wave me through.  But he told me “Five minutes!” and walked off with my papers.  About 10 minutes later he returned with a young woman (who turned out to be having difficulty herself getting across the border). She was a Palestinian with dual nationality in Finland, bringing a delegation of Finnish activists to Gaza.  She translated.

The Egyptian border guard said I needed permission from the US Embassy, that I didn’t have permission from Gaza (I showed him the paper that said “Entry Approved” and realized he couldn’t read English).  I told him that I am a teacher and my students in Gaza are waiting for me.  I told him that I had been in Gaza from September to December, and was returning.  I told him that I entered Gaza in September without any trouble.   All of this with the help of a very nice interpreter.  But to no avail.  He just said “La . La . La”   I know what THAT means!

By this time it was 2:30 PM and I knew I had better catch a ride back to Cairo.  Again, I had to get through the swarm of young men pestering me for my attention.  I found a van, negotiated a fair price, and after it was full (10 people plus the driver) we headed back to Cairo, arriving nearly 6 hours later.  

I’m going to write a post just about the drive back to Cairo; it was memorable.  All of the passengers were from Gaza. One young man in his early 30s with a full black beard sang words from the Qur’an.  When we reached Cairo, he said in halting English “I want to give you a gift but all I have is my little black hat.  Will you accept it?”  I was honored and humbled.  I gave him my hat from Norway, which he accepted and said he would give to his wife.

So I’m back “home” — my home away from home in Cairo.  And I’m angry and ready to call President Morsi in the morning and tell him what I think of his police in the Sinai, and his border guards at Rafah.  Morsi has publicly declared that he supports the Palestinians and wants to ease travel restrictions into and out of Gaza.   Time to prove it MISTER!

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Filed under Egypt, Gaza, People