Police Exchange with Israel: How American Muslims Can Contest This

One of the most disquieting practices that are often obscured is the American Police Exchange Program with Israel. As American police continue to apply militaristic methods of micromanaging of Black communities, it becomes increasingly alarming to be aware that such techniques are direct consequences of having officers trained from an occupying force.

One of the most disquieting practices that are often obscured is the American Police Exchange Program with Israel. As American police continue to apply militaristic methods of micromanaging of Black communities, it becomes increasingly alarming to be aware that such techniques are direct consequences of having officers trained from an occupying force.

To describe the incensed civil unrest within the United States as volatile is, to put it mildly. At the end of May 2020, George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, was murdered sadistically at the hands, or rather the knee, of former officer Derek Chauvin.

Of course, over the years due to the technological age, we are living through, it has become evident this is not an isolated incident. Names like Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner have become lamentable household names in the black community. The interminable images and pleas of black men and women having their lives plundered at the hands of police officers and vigilantes have set the country ablaze, and rightfully so. Protests and riots have engulfed American streets.

So what are we fighting for? Media claims it is the outrage over police brutality. However, fighting police brutality suggests that issues end with a select number of officers. They fail to recognize that eradicating police brutality requires combating and addressing the inherently racist core of our current policing system, as well as the policies that discriminate and marginalize the black community under the guise of American egalitarianism and authority.

One of the most disquieting practices that are often obscured is the American Police Exchange Program with Israel. As American police continue to apply militaristic methods of micromanaging of Black communities, it becomes increasingly alarming to be aware that such techniques are direct consequences of having officers trained from an occupying force.

Israeli war crimes, their callous transgression of Palestinian human rights, and the unlawful occupation of Palestine are extensively cited and recognized by activist groups around the world. The U.S Department of Justice published a report that the Baltimore Police department is guilty of violating constitutional rights, using discriminatory enforcement, and promoting a culture of retaliation. As well as this, the Baltimore PD is one of the several police departments across the country that receives training from Israel, with a disconcerting amount of states participate in the Police Exchange Program with Israel as well. Such states include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and several others. This includes training from Israeli national police and Israeli military and intelligence services.

Trips to Israel for police chiefs, assistant chiefs, and captains are funded by the Anti-Defamation League, The American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, and the Jewish Institute for National Security officers. For the last 22 years, the U.S Department of Justice has been providing grants to subsidize training through the Police Exchange Program with Israel.

The Georgia International Law Enforcement exchange is perhaps one of the most prestigious programs that arrange for American law enforcement officials, corporate security executives and police officers to attend briefings, training, and seminars with the Israel government. This training is not only limited to police officers, but also agents from the FBI, CIA, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The amicable relationship between America and Israel should perturb us all. Despite the U.S Department of Justice citing Israeli police for carrying out extrajudicial executions, other unlawful killings, torture, suppression of freedom of expression, surveillance, and excessive force against protestors, the government finds it acceptable to train their police officers from perpetrators of such oppressive misconduct.

Israeli occupying forces and American police belong to the same paradigm which encourages the erasing and dehumanizing of entire communities. The clear truth is that U.S officials do not need to be taking tips from occupying forces. This alliance and exchange do not facilitate security, nor does it promote a harmonious community. Rather, it perpetuates militarizing, brutalizing, and pillaging citizens. With all the facts at hand, anything less than outrage is violence.

With that being said, if you live in the United States, it is now time for us to scrutinize our local law enforcement and put an end to exchanges between American and Israeli officers. The following is a list of actions you can take to put pressure on your local governments and make it clear that the Police Exchange Program is unacceptable.

Find out if your local law enforcement and other agencies receive training from Israel

In partnership with the Jewish Voice for Peace, Researching the American Israeli Alliance (RAIA) has released the “Palestine is Here” database. This is an incredible and invaluable resource to have a more informed understanding of your local politics. The database allows you to track Israeli military ties with your local government, police departments, corporations, and academic institutions. Understanding and being cognizant of the extent of these ties in your local community will assist you in taking tangible steps. 

You can search by specific precincts and agencies, your city, or your zip code by clicking here.

Connect with activist groups

Although we live in an era of information overload, enacting significant reform can be quite difficult without mentorship and guidance. Connecting with local activist groups has a plethora of benefits. Firstly, a sense of community and purpose is instilled. Joining these groups will also augment their numbers, showing the authority that this is not a feeble cause.

They can guide you in getting in touch with local leaders and other pertinent resources, as well as the fact that a multitude of talents and skills can be applied to ensure your campaigns reach fruition. If you are a student, connecting with these groups can also help you start your own advocacy groups within your school. The following is a list of groups around the United States with multiple chapters across the country: 

  • CAIR: The Council for American-Islamic Relations is a non-profit, grassroots civil rights and advocacy group. They assist American-Muslims in legal matters, run campaigns, and offer a plethora of resources and guidance. There is a CAIR chapter in almost every state. You can find their website here. You can also find a list of resources compiled by CAIR to combat police violence here.
  • JVP: The Jewish Voice for Peace is a grassroots organization that opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry. They partake in tons of interfaith work. They support the BDS movement and seek to end the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. They partnered with RAIA to release the “Palestine is Here” database. They are extremely vocal about Israeli state violence and vehemently reject Israeli officers training American police. In 2018, they released the Deadly Exchange report which expounds on the extent of massive training programs between U.S. law enforcement, and Israeli police and military. You can download the report in the following link here. You can also find your local chapter of JVP here.
  • RAIA: Research American-Israeli Alliance works in partnership with other organizations. They assisted a local community in North Carolina in passing the nation’s first bill that bans police exchange with Israel. You can find RAIA’s link to help you obtain resources to start your own local campaign here.
  • Other prominent groups include the Coalition for Peace with Justice and the Durham to Palestine Coalition. The Durham to Palestine Coalition succeeded in pressuring legislators in Durham to end this training almost two years ago through a series of campaigns!

Join, support, and donate to local and out of state campaigns

It is not always possible to physically act, however, the internet has eased the way for you to support the cause in a myriad of ways, including donating to campaigns, signing petitions, and spreading awareness. The following is a list of campaigns and petitions that advocate ending police exchange with Israel: 

End the Deadly Exchange

University of California’s Justice for Black Lives: End All University of California Police and Imperial Contracts

Write, email, call, and visit your local Representatives

Use your voice and write a letter to your local representatives. The following are links to find out who your local representatives are and how to contact them:

Find Your Representatives (via CommonCause)

Find Your Representative (via US Gov)


Protests and rallies are an integral and peaceful part of creating substantial change. We are already seeing a few city councils discussing the defunding of police around the country. Keep an eye out for protests, rallies, and events to ensure your voice is being heard! 

  • Stay updated on social media platforms for the latest protests in your city.
  • Follow and connect with local activist groups. 
  • If you have the means and resources to do so, organize a protest in front of local precincts and city council offices. 

What NOT to do

Stay silent

This is exactly what oppressors and policing seek to do, which is silencing the masses and asserting their authority. Staying silent is a violation of our Islamic principles. The Prophet (SAW) said, “The best form of jihad (striving) is to speak a word of truth (haqq) in the face of an oppressor.”

Remain ignorant 

We can not fight for a cause without understanding it and without reaching the root causes. Nor can we achieve anything without a thoughtful examination of our history and without listening to greatest thinkers of the past, as well as, of contemporary times. Knowledge is at our fingertips – acquire it and utilize it. 

Center our own narrative and risk obscuring black voices

No matter how well-intentioned, we often get lost in our own passion. This does not mean that having a zeal for justice does not constitute a negative virtue. However, as we employ our talents for these causes, we must remember that we can never grasp the magnitude of generational trauma. We must always remember to clear the stage for the Black community to speak their pain and truths. We must stand in solidarity with them and amplify their voices, not eclipse them. 

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