Since the acquisition, The @ADL has been trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2023
...many have highlighted the ADL's nearly two-decade sponsorship of a program which sends US law enforcement officials to Israel for various training seminars which several organizations have blamed for the 'militarization' of US police.
"A lot of the policing that folks are observing and being talked to about in these trips is policing that happens in a nondemocratic context," Alex Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College and author of a forthcoming book on global policing, told The Intercept in 2017.
"The kinds of training police are given in Israel is actually part of the problem because it encourages a warrior mindset in police and exposes them to practices that would be unconstitutional in the U.S.," he told the outlet earlier this year.
The FBI has also participated in the program, which was launched by former FBI official Steven Pomerantz.
Did you know the ADL has been sponsoring very expensive police training trips to Israel for top American police departments? pic.twitter.com/UajBNSiSfT— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) November 29, 2023
In the summer of 2020 as the George Floyd BLM protests raged across the United States and 'defund the police' became a national refrain which liberal cities across the country actually instituted (with much regret), ADL senior VP of programs, George Selim, and another top ADL official, internally questioned the group's support of the Israeli training program.
"In light of the very real police brutality at the hands of militarized police forces in the US, we must ask ourselves difficult questions, like whether we are contributing to the problem," wrote the officials in a June 9, 2020 memo to CEO Jonathan Greenblatt which suggests ending the program. "That is, we must ask ourselves why it is necessary for American police, enforcing American laws, would need to meet with members of the Israeli military. We must ask ourselves if, upon returning home, those we train are more likely to use force."
According to Amnesty International in 2016,
When the U.S. Department of Justice published a report opens in a new tab Aug. 10 that documented “widespread constitutional violations, discriminatory enforcement, and culture of retaliation” within the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), there was rightly a general reaction of outrage.
But what hasn’t received as much attention is where Baltimore police received training on crowd control, use of force and surveillance: Israel’s national police, military and intelligence services.
Baltimore law enforcement officials, along with hundreds of others from Florida opens in a new tab, New Jersey opens in a new tab, Pennsylvania, California opens in a new tab, Arizona opens in a new tab, Connecticut, New York opens in a new tab, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia opens in a new tab, Washington state opens in a new tab 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.
✂️The ADL publicly dismissed that line of critique in the summer of 2020. “Seeking to link Israel as a state to US police misconduct is a bizarre excuse for the centuries-long history of racism and injustice that has been part of American history, really since our founding,”… pic.twitter.com/TKTu4jHuh5— JewForPeace🕊☮🏳️🌈 (@CredibleUFO) November 24, 2023
Critics have dubbed the practice the "Deadly Exchange."
Durham bans it
In 2018, five years after former Durham, North Carolina Chief of Police Cerelyn Davis attended a 2013 training session with the Israel National Police, the North Carolina city banned the exchange program. Davis, now the chief of Memphis PD, seemed "to have changed her tune" according to The Intercept.
By the time she became chief in Durham, Davis seems to have changed her tune on such programs. The apparent coolness on the police-Israeli relationships came following pressure from local activists and a national campaign to end U.S.-Israel police exchanges.
In 2018, Durham became the first city in the U.S. to ban police trainings and exchanges involving Israel’s military. At the time, Davis wrote in a memo that she had “no intention to participate or initiate an exchange with Israel,” which prompted two Israeli volunteer police officers to sue her and the Durham police department for discrimination.
Davis's predecessor, Larry Godwin, also trained in Israel as part of a Homeland Security International Conference.
"The ADL is literally the largest non-governmental trainer of the US police..."— Brewster (@Brewsterlala) November 27, 2023
They spend an enormous amount of money for US police to travel to Israel and exchange ideas regarding how to beat and subjugate captive populations and ethnic minorities... https://t.co/EazAWi0WWS
ADL And 'The Architect' Hit Back
There has been systematic racism in the U.S. for centuries, and it exists within our law enforcement and criminal justice systems. These problems were not imported to the U.S.
Blaming Israel for these grave and serious issues only serves as a distraction from legitimate problems that we as a nation need to confront.
This charge has been propagated by ideological critics of Israel who seek to inject alleged Israeli – and at times American Jewish – complicity into issues of American societal injustice. Those who make this spurious argument have focused more on tarring Israel than promoting real solutions to confronting and transforming systemic American inequities and abuses.
The self-proclaimed 'architect' of the US-Israel police exchange noted above, Steven Pomerantz - who heads the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), a Washington DC Think Tank, wrote in a lengthy June 19, 2020 statement (10 days after ADL officials raised the notion of the organization's complicity in police violence) that the training courses don't involve 'field training,' work on "building trust with minority communities," and therefore couldn't possibly translate to reports of increased police brutality in the US.
The letter then pivots to how "Israel’s unfortunately extensive experience in the counterterrorism field" can benefit US police.
"Importantly, both American and Israeli police agencies operate under similar conditions, with judicial and public oversight and an aggressive free press," writes Pomerantz. "There is value in learning how Israel fights terrorism while preserving its democratic institutions and the individual rights of citizens — challenges facing all democratic societies."
Meanwhile, the American Jewish Committee has criticized the 'deadly exchange' as a 'trope' which 'directly compares U.S. police actions against Black Americans with the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) treatment of Palestinians."
Users of this trope argue Israeli and U.S. law enforcement exchange security practices and ideologies to purposely target people of color. This false equivalence appeared in demonstrations in the summer of 2020 when protesters chanted “Israel, we know you, you murder children, too" -AJC
The AJC says that "Accusing Israel or Zionists of complicity in the murder of Black people is malicious, perpetuates antisemitism, and blames Jews for societal ills."