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Durham, NC votes for nation’s first ban on police exchanges with Israel

US Politics .  on 

Late Monday evening, Durham voted unanimously to become the first city in the U.S. to prohibit police exchanges with Israel, after broad community pressure and popular petition by the Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine coalition, an affiliate of the Deadly Exchange Campaign.

The policy, which states that, “the Council opposes international exchanges with any country in which Durham officers receive military-style training,” was voted into official policy of the City of Durham during heated debate at City Council.

Activists with the  Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine coalition. (Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace)

In a time of increasing concern about policing and police violence, in particular for communities of color, the city of Durham is leading the way in declaring that safety for all means de-militarizing the police force.

From traffic stops that target Black drivers, to checkpoints that target immigrant communities, to police murders of Black, Brown, and disabled people, police forces cause daily harm.

Police exchanges between the U.S. and Israel explicitly offer U.S. police officers exposure to methods used against Palestinians that numerous international human rights groups say are discriminatory and lead to human rights violations.

“This is an important step towards divesting from militarization and over-policing, and investing in Black and Brown futures,” stated Laila Nur of Durham For All, one of the coalition members. “I am proud to see Durham leading the way; it’s a huge victory towards a vision of safety and sanctuary for all.”

“The Demilitarize Durham2Palestine Coalition is leading the way as a model of how to build communities that value safety for all people. We are thrilled by this first win of the Deadly Exchange campaign, which is especially meaningful as a response to the ongoing targeting of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza and the call from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Movement in response to end U.S./Israel police exchanges,” stated Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson.

Ending police training exchanges between U.S. law enforcement and Israeli security forces, according to the Deadly Exchange campaign, works towards reducing state violence and discrimination.

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.

Through one of these programs, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) National Counter-Terrorism Seminar (NCTS), U.S. law enforcement agents visit checkpoints and prisons and meet with Israeli officials at other sites of violence and racial profiling, such as Hebron’s settler-controlled areas and Ben Gurion airport.

Lee Mortimer, a member of the Coalition for Peace with Justice, pointed out that, “There are many countries with human rights abuses; Israel is the only one on which the US government lavishes monetary and financial support.”

“This policy is a powerful affirmation of the solidarity many of us feel with Palestinians in Gaza, who continue to march for land and freedom despite IDF massacres, and it is an important step towards a demilitarized Durham, where all people can be truly safe and free,” added Noah Rubin-Blose of Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC, another coalition member.

Ajamu Amiri Dillahunt, of coalition member Black Youth Project 100-Durham Chapter, said, “BYP100 is part of this campaign because we are against expropriation and genocidal occupations. We recognize how our struggles correspond as we fight against police violence in the U.S. and unarmed Palestinians fight against violence from the IDF.”

In recent decades, the U.S. has witnessed a shift in policing, a post-9/11 trend bringing counter-terrorism logics, technology and tactics into domestic policing and immigration policy.

This militarization of the police has led to the increased police violence against  communities of colorintrusive surveillance particularly in Muslim communities, and the violent repression of Indigenous-led movements, compounded with increased police targeting of people of color, including in the city of DurhamLaw enforcement exchange programs, under the banner of Israeli counter-terrorism expertise, contribute to these deadly trends by encouraging an even deeper application of counterterror and counter-insurgency modelsinto domestic policing, immigration and surveillance policies and practices.

Durham City Councillor Javiera Caballero stated: “I am an immigrant because of military influence and a foreign power […] At some point we need to move away from militarization, period… To the immigrant community: You are loved, and your fight is our fight.”

“In my own experience, having spent my winter break in the West Bank, the tear gas that clouded the vision of my eyes and those of the few hundred protesters around me served as an eye opener to the unjust, militaristic practices the Israel Defense Forces uses against peaceful protesters,” said Ahmad Amireh of Duke Students for Justice in Palestine.

 “No police department needs any exposure to the IDF’s racist practices, and Durham will be a safer city by committing to ending police exchanges with Israel.”

In order to raise their concerns over possible police exchanges with Israel, the Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine coalition of ten local organizations, including the Jewish Voice for Peace-Triangle, NC chapter, led a petition drive that gathered over 1,200 signatures of Durham residents in opposition to such exchanges with Israel.

The coalition was galvanized as Durham’s current Police Chief, Cerelyn Davis, previously organized police exchanges between Atlanta and Israel through the Atlanta Police Leadership Institute International Exchange Program.

Durham’s past Police Chief Jose Lopez, while in office, participated in the American Defense League’s National Counter-Terrorism Seminar with the Israeli Defense Force in 2008; the ADL lists the Durham Police Department as one of many law enforcement agencies trained through NCTS.

Pastor Mark Davidson of the Church of Reconciliation and Miriam Thompson, co-conveners of the Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East, said in a statement: “As faith leaders and human rights advocates, AIME is honored to support the D2P campaign and gratified at the (recommended) vote of the Durham City Council that establishes and secures a just and peaceful environment and a police-community partnership, by prohibiting foreign military training of Durham police, especially from countries that practice human rights violations.”

A letter of support to the City of Durham by an interfaith movement of rabbis, Christian clergy and imams, sponsored by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Friends of Sabeel – North America (FOSNA) and JVP, which was read on Monday evening, states:

 “As clergy, we wholeheartedly endorse the amazing work of Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine to halt any future police exchange partnerships between the Durham Police Department and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)… We believe it is our religious and moral duty to champion human rights, and we respect this courageous statement that seeks to protect all communities from harm—in Durham, Israel/Palestine, and around the world.”

 

Junot Díaz: “I think the occupation of Palestine is fucked up”

“If you say, I think the occupation of Palestine is fucked up on forty different levels, people are like, you’re the devil, we’re going to get your tenure taken away, we’re going to destroy you. You can say almost anything else. You could be like, ‘I eat humans,’ and they’ll be like bien, bien.”

Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation, edited by Vijay Prashad, is a collection of personal essays, letters, and poems to and for Palestine from some of the most prominent writers, thinkers, and activists of our time, including Junot Díaz, Teju Cole, Mumia Abu Jamal, Robin Kelley, Noura Erakat, and Corey Robin.

To mark the book’s release, we bring you Junot Díaz’s foreword to the collection.

Tonnie Ch shared Jewish Voice for Peace‘s post.
Junot Díaz is the author of one of my all-time favorite novels; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
versobooks.com
Americans Are So Deranged About Palestine

I grew up in the ’80s in Central New Jersey, and every single kind of colonial settler calamity was present in my community. I was friends with an Irish kid, the only white kid in our community, and a hard-core Irish Catholic republican.

His family used to pass the hat around in church to raise money for the IRA. My other friend was an Egyptian kid whose family extended into Palestine, and throughout the ’80s, while everybody else was watching John Hughes movies, this kid had me on point on Palestine.

And then of course this was at the height of the apartheid movement. So all of my African American friends, well, two of them, not all of them, had parents who were part of the leftwing, pro-ANC, anti-apartheid movement. I’m in this poor community and this is all just getting beamed into my head.

So by the time I was in college, I could give you chapter and verse on anti-Zionist projects.

And look, for many people it’s a really tough issue. It’s like we’ve kind of gotten deranged, so that there are certain areas we can’t discuss.

And of course the situation in Palestine is an utter taboo in this country. Our ideas of terrorism, our ideas of Arabs, are over saturated with the most negative, weirdly perverse racist ideologies.

I can’t even turn on the news for five seconds without hearing the most racist shit about Arabs or Muslims. And so in that kind of atmosphere, it’s just a shouting match.

If you say, I think the occupation of Palestine is fucked up on forty different levels, people are like, you’re the devil, we’re going to get your tenure taken away, we’re going to destroy you. You can say almost anything else. You could be like, “I eat humans,” and they’ll be like bien, bien.

On the basic, basic level: If you are occupying other people’s shit, guess what—you are fucked up. That’s that.

And that’s a tough thing for people to stomach. Because we live in a country that’s currently occupying people’s fucking land.

Perhaps Americans are so deranged about Palestine because Americans are thinking, if we give up here, these fucking Indians are going to want their shit back.

Well, maybe they should get their shit back. Since 90 percent of us don’t own anything, I don’t know how much it would hurt us.

Letters to Palestine is available here.

More in #Gaza #Israel-Palestine #BDS #Nakba Day

Recently mentioned books

Pink Floyd Roger Waters: Divest in Israel

Roger Waters, British rock band Pink Floyd, wrote in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on July 2, 2012 under “Divest in Israel: Presbyterians should support Palestinian aspirations“:

“On Tuesday, I will be visiting Pittsburgh to perform my Pink Floyd hit “The Wall” at Consol Energy Center.

By coincidence, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has gathered this week in Pittsburgh.

One issue the Presbyterians will be debating is whether to take action in support of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, under siege in Gaza and governed as second-class citizens in Israel under the rule of the apartheid government there.

I write in support of those Presbyterians who would like their church to divest its holdings in three U.S. companies — Motorola Solutions, Hewlett-Packard and Caterpillar. These companies profit directly from Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and suppression of the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Israel itself.

Divestment in these companies is supported by Jewish Voice for Peace, which has noted that:

1.  “Caterpillar profits from the destruction of Palestinians’ homes,”

2.  Motorola profits by providing safety equipment to “segregated communities on stolen land”

3. Hewlett-Packard profits by providing “support and maintenance to a biometric ID system installed in Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank which deprive Palestinians of the freedom of movement in their own land.”

When I wrote “The Wall” in 1979, I thought it was about me and the way I walled myself off from others because, for one reason or another, not the least of which was the loss of my father at Anzio in 1944, I saw myself as a victim. Thirty-three years later I have come to realize that “The Wall” has a broader message.

A picture that shocked the world
An Israeli woman protects a Palestinian boy in front of an Israeli Soldier !

The theatrical wall I build each night serves as a metaphor for all the walls erected to separate us, human being from human being: walls between rich and poor, between opposing cultural, political or religious ideologies and particularly between the oppressor and the oppressed.

The Israeli wall in the West Bank is a particularly graphic example. I make reference to that wall every night in my concert, but the injustices faced by Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal occupation and apartheid are not adequately addressed through theater and music alone. They warrant other forms of comment.

Note 1: Roger Waters is a founding member of the British rock band Pink Floyd.
 
Note 2: Rabbi James A. Gibson of Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill argues that a decision by Presbyterians to divest in companies doing business in Israel would damage relations between Christians and Jews and set back conciliation efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/divest-in-israel-presbyterians-should-support-palestinian-aspirations-642882/#ixzz1zdTtnOv3

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