REVEALED: ADL’s US-Israel Police Exchanges Militarize the Police
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2022
Media Contact: Sonya E Meyerson-Knox | firstname.lastname@example.org | 929-290-0317
“The ADL’s cover is blown once and for all. There’s nothing Jewish about fighting against Palestinian freedom or militarizing the police.”
New York City (March 17, 2022) — A key facilitator of police exchange programs between the U.S. and Israel was forced to pause its programs following a nation-wide grassroots campaign, according to a leaked document and their own admission. Articles published today by The Guardian and Jewish Currents reveal a draft memo addressed to Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, written during the height of the Black-led uprisings in June 2020 sparked by the police murder of George Floyd. Entitled “Law Enforcement Trainings in Israel” and authored by senior staff at the ADL, the document details how the ADL, one of the main facilitators of police exchanges between the U.S. and Israel, was forced to acknowledge that its exchange program helped militarize U.S. police and harm communities of color.
The leaked memo also reveals that the ADL decided to disrupt their police exchange program in large part due to sustained campaigning by the nation-wide Deadly Exchange campaign and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). JVP, along with its coalition partners across the U.S., sees this as a key, vital step towards stopping the militarization of our communities, defunding and abolishing policing, and challenging the US-Israel alliance that maintains Israeli apartheid.
The articles quote a California county sheriff who went to Israel for an ADL training in 2017 discussing how Israeli officers used force during arrests: “We’d be in jail if we did something like that here.”
The timing of the memo also positions it as a response to that summer’s national uprising in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. The ADL’s – temporary – concerns around public perception of their pro-police stance speaks to the fundamental shift in national discourse around policing created by the Movement for Black Lives, as well as coalitions such as critical resistance, 8toAbolition, and Rising Majority.
The ADL publicly confirmed that it has indeed “paused” its police exchange programs for the past 2.5 years. However, in a clear reversal from their own recommendation and their public position of support for ending police violence, the ADL also indicated that it may resume or even expand its police exchange programs in the future.
Stefanie Fox, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace:
“Our collective power is working: The ADL never would have disrupted their US-Israel police exchanges without the power of our multiracial intersectional coalition forcing them into a corner. And now the ADL is doubling down with their real commitments: reinforcing apartheid and militarized policing. The ADL’s cover is blown once and for all. There’s nothing Jewish about fighting against Palestinian freedom or militarizing the police.”
Montague Simmons, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Movement for Black Lives: “From Ferguson to Gaza, ordinary people deserve the dignity of living free of police terror and violence. Instead, the U.S.-Israel police exchange program led by the ADL produced and expanded deadly police violence by two of the world’s most disreputable law enforcement agencies—putting Black and Palestinian lives under persistent threat. That the ADL has “paused” their programs—after pressure from grassroots organizers—is cold comfort to the millions of people who have suffered the brutal repression of militarized U.S. and Israeli police forces. Instead of resuming or even possibly expanding these police exchange programs, the ADL ought to repair the harm they orchestrated and immediately stop subverting social justice and Black liberation in the U.S. and elsewhere.”
Eran Efrati, Campaigns and Partnership Director, Jewish Voice for Peace: “These delegations facilitate opportunities for the U.S. police force, born out of American slavery and settler colonialism, to train with Israeli forces responsible for 73 years of apartheid, occupation, and ethnic cleansing. I spoke with US law enforcement on these trips, where they are encouraged to see themselves as combatants and to embrace tactics of military occupation – including in mass surveillance, racial profiling, and violent repression of dissent.”
Omar Barghouti, co-founder, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement: “The Deadly Exchange campaign has derailed a particularly racist and deadly project of the Anti-Palestinian Defamation League, otherwise known as the ADL, exposing its whitewash of apartheid Israel. Palestinians are calling for escalating pressure to cut U.S. military funding to apartheid, for humanity’s sake, not just ours. Israel has for decades exported its military-security wares and doctrines, “battle-tested” on Palestinians, supporting war crimes perpetrated by dictatorships and authoritarian regimes worldwide, from Latin America to Africa to South Asia.”
Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council: “For years, the ADL has presented itself as the only organization that can keep our Jewish communities safe. In reality, the ADL threatens the wellbeing of Jews and all marginalized people by partnering with violent systems that enable racist, militarized policing. We deserve – and are building – communal organizations that embody our tradition’s teaching to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34) for all people. It is long past time for progressives and educators to learn the ADL’s history of and current collaboration with reactionary anti-democratic forces, and to choose to separate ourselves from this problematic organization.”
U.S.-Israel Police Exchanges
Since the early 2000s, thousands of U.S. police officers, sheriffs, border patrol agents, ICE officers and FBI agents have trained with Israeli military and police forces. The ADL’s National Counter-Terrorism Seminar (NCTS) brought U.S. law enforcement agents to visit checkpoints and military prisons, and introduced them to Israeli officials at other sites of apartheid and racial profiling, such as the illegal settlement in Hebron and Ben Gurion airport.
These exchanges reinforce American law enforcement practices of expanding surveillance, justifying racial profiling and suppressing public protests through use of force. While some of these tactics may be new, the racist ideology underlying their implementation is endemic to U.S. law enforcement since its creation. The contexts of Israel’s regime of military occupation and apartheid against Palestinians, and the U.S. legacy of white supremacy, mutually reinforce each government’s state violence. During these police exchanges, U.S. law enforcement learned tactics developed through Israel’s military occupation and also learned to think of themselves as combatants.
The Truth About the ADL
The ADL’s facilitation of police exchanges, as well as its silence around its move to cancel them, comes as no surprise to JVP – or to the Drop the ADL campaign. Indeed, the police exchange programs are a feature—not a bug—of the ADL’s agenda. Moreover, the ADL has a long history of working against Black liberation, despite recent statements to the contrary. The so-called civil rights organization has been surveilling and undermining social justice organizations – including left-leaning Jewish organizations – since its inception. Surreptitiously ending their police exchanges does not absolve them of over a century of unjust practices.
The Deadly Exchange Campaign
Deadly Exchange is a campaign of Jewish Voice for Peace, implemented locally through grassroots coalitions that include other local groups working for racial justice and the demilitarization and defunding of the police. These coalitions have been organizing since 2017 to pressure city and campus legislators to prohibit U.S. law enforcement exchanges with Israel – and they’ve seen significant wins. In 2018, Durham, NC, became the first city in the U.S. to prohibit police exchanges, after broad community pressure from the Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine coalition. Later that year, local coalitions in Northampton, MA, and Vermont organized to stop the police chief and the state police commissioner, respectively, from participating in a planned ADL exchange. In 2020, a student referendum demanded that Tufts University ban campus security from participating in police exchanges. Coalitions have also made exciting inroads in New York City, New Orleans, and Seattle. These successes contribute to the “negative publicity” the ADL fears.
The Deadly Exchange campaign intends to use the momentum generated by the leaked memo to put an end to remaining and future exchanges between U.S. law enforcement and Israel nationwide, including launching a national petition-writing campaign to pressure local governments to end all such exchanges.
Jewish Voice for Peace staff and Deadly Exchange campaign partners are available to speak with the media
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. JVP has over 500,000 online supporters, over 70 chapters and 15 student chapters, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.