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Israel, Anti-Black Racism, and Police Brutality in the United States

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In more recent years, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s association of African refugees with infiltrating terrorists has led to several hate crimes. Most notably in January 2014, an Israeli man stabbed an African toddler while it was in its mother’s arms, claiming that blacks “in general, are terrorists.”

The training of American police officers by Israeli security forces is part of the problem and one of the obstacles to dismantling institutional racism in the United States. 

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has recently sparked a series of international anti-racist demonstrations. Fuelling the disgust at the murder of yet another innocent African American is the disbelief towards the Minneapolis officer’s disproportionate use of violence.

Though institutional racism, rooted in America’s founding sins, is a pertinent ongoing problem, one must sequentially question law enforcement training methods. At the root of this enquiry is America’s rhetoric of trying to solve racially motivated police brutality while its very same police departments get schooled on law and order by security forces intent on preserving an apartheid regime.

America’s history of systemic racism and the culture of discrimination amongst society is a well-known phenomenon. Recent studies show that 1 in every 1,000 black males in the US dies at the hands of police officers, a figure 2.5 times greater than that of their white counterparts. However, minimal attention has been paid to the frequent instruments of repression, law enforcement officers, and their training methods.

Unbeknown to most, a significant portion of this training is received in Israel. As an Amnesty International report detailed at length, American law enforcement officials, from New York to California, have been sent to Israel on taxpayer-funded trips to receive military-level training. How is this not a recipe for disaster?

The Zionist regime’s security forces are no moral example but rather violators of basic human rights; including extrajudicial killings, inhumane methods of torture, suppression of freedom of speech, and enforcement of apartheid rule through discriminating Palestinians, Jews of colour, and African refugees.

According to data from the United Nations, from the 2018 Great March of Return to 2019, Israeli security forces injured 28,000 peaceful demonstrators and killed 190, some of which were minors. What was their crime? Opposing the punitive blockade on Gaza and demanding the right of Palestinians to be able to return to their ancestral homes. Nevertheless and perhaps shockingly, Israel’s merciless force is seen, through the “police exchange” training program, as a means to bettering the state of American civil society.

Examples of police brutality in the occupied Palestinian territories resembles similar offences in urban America. The “discriminatory enforcement,” practised by the Baltimore Police Department, in the murder of Freddie Gray, echoes many extrajudicial murders of Palestinians. The murder of Tamir Rice, an unarmed 12-year old shot for allegedly carrying a gun, is akin to the killing of unarmed Palestinian children during military offensives in Gaza. What unites the Israeli security forces and American officers is a perception of minorities as a potential threat, not on the basis of actions but their ethnic identity.

Beyond the obvious similarities in repressive measures, there are also more direct links. In Minneapolis, a local news outlet found in a 2012 report that around 100 Minnesota law enforcement officers had attended a training conference put on by the Israeli consulate and the FBI. Shahar Arieli, the deputy consul general, described this event as bringing together “top-notch professionals from the Israeli police to share some knowledge and know-how about how to deal with the terrorism.”

The Minnesota Police Department already had a long history of accusations of racist abuse, but the training from Israeli forces, who continuously use repressive tactics against Palestinians, was a recipe for disaster for future societal race relations.

Police brutality in Minnesota significantly heightened, magnetising a global audience through the case of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old African American man, who was shot by an officer on the false pretence that he was about to pull out a firearm, when in reality he had been reaching for his vehicle licence and registration after being stopped while driving. Castile’s murderer was not found guilty. The feeling of impunity and overall lack of accountability despite the murder being caught on a Facebook live stream, already notorious in Israel, remained a mainstay in American police departments.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise, that in the very same state, the murderer of George Floyd, recently identified as Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost 10 minutes and showed no remorse, ignoring the pleas of “I can’t breathe.” A form of inhumanity and racially charged violence which the Palestinians have endured for decades.

The equation of black lives in America to that of Palestinians is, without doubt, the most potent comparison. However, Israel also promotes a climate of hatred towards its black citizens and those abroad. From Israel’s inception, Zionist’s intent of persevering a “pure” society refused to accept Black Hebrew Israelites as part of the wider Jewish community. In recent years, widespread protests included thousands of violent demonstrators chanting “blacks out” and demanding the deportation of non-Jewish Africans. There have even been examples of fire bombings and property damage. 

In more recent years, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s association of African refugees with infiltrating terrorists has led to several hate crimes. Most notably in January 2014, an Israeli man stabbed an African toddler while it was in its mother’s arms, claiming that blacks “in general, are terrorists.” Indeed, the government’s racist rhetoric has fuelled the xenophobic vigilantism towards black people in Israel.

Zionist racism towards black people is not only limited to the confines of the occupied Palestinian territories. Nearly two years ago, one of Israel’s chief rabbis, Yitzhak Yosef, referred to African Americans as “monkeys” and claimed that non-Jews are in Israel merely to “serve Jews.” Around the same period, the Prime Minister of Israel’s son, Yair Netanyahu, claimed that Black Lives Matter is worse than neo-Nazis. Netanyahu’s bigotry encapsulates Israel’s long-withheld desire to uphold foreign racist hierarchies to protect its apartheid system from dismantling.

The greatest anti-apartheid revolutionary, Nelson Mandela, understood best that racist structures require one another to survive, while anti-racist movements (as epitomised in the history of decolonisation movements) needed one another’s solidarity to succeed. He thus famously proclaimed that his people’s freedom was incomplete “without the freedom of the Palestinians.” 

Mandela’s message lives on, as articulated by Dawn O’Neal, formerly of Black Lives Matter Atlanta, “as long as police are sent into war zones [Israel] to train, there will continue to be Tamir Rices, Trayvon Martins and Kathryn Johnstons.” Today more than ever before, peoples of colour deem their struggles against racism as one.

The Zionist regime not only implements apartheid within its borders but helps to protect institutional racism against African Americans in the United States. If black lives are ever to be valued as equal to white lives in American society, then one of the first steps must be to dismantle the training of civilian officers by Israeli forces.

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