Bowing to Pressure From Anti-Israel Groups, Durham, NC, City Council Bars ‘Military-Style Training’ for Local Police
The city council in Durham, North Carolina, has voted to bar the city’s police department from engaging in international exchanges where officers receive “military-style training.”
The 6-0 vote on Monday night was the outcome of a campaign by anti-Zionist and left-wing groups to prevent any future partnerships between the city’s police department and the Israel Police.
The campaign began with a petition launched in September 2017 by the vehemently anti-Zionist advocacy group “Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP),” which called on the City Council to “immediately halt any partnerships that the Durham Police Department has or might enter into with the Israeli Defense Forces and/or the Israel Police.”
The group has been campaigning during the last year to end what it calls a “Deadly Exchange” involving police departments in the US allegedly learning from their Israeli counterparts the techniques of “discriminatory and repressive policing.”
The JVP campaign has already been condemned as antisemitic by the Anti-Defamation League, the prominent US Jewish civil rights group that sends senior American security officials to Israel for counter-terrorism training. The ADL noted last year that JVP used “language to describe American Jewish organizations that veers uncomfortably close to age-old antisemitic canards about Jews using their influence to undermine the societies of the countries in which they live.”
Indeed, many of the fifty speakers who addressed a tense meeting of the City Council on Monday night noted that the Durham Police Department currently has no exchange programs with Israel to begin with — fueling concern that the resolution was primarily intended as an anti-Israel political statement.
“This entire discussion is much ado about nothing,” one speaker remarked to the council. “We wonder why the City Council feels the need to take up a position on this. There are real problems facing this city.”
Other pro-Israel advocates warned that the JVP campaign was nationwide in its scope.
“It very clearly is anti-Israel,” Bob Gutman, a co-chair of Voice for Israel, told local news outlet WRAL. “It’s very personally offensive. They are using this false flag as a way of getting Durham to pass a petition that defames Israel, so they can show it around the United States and get other cities to do the same.”
Outside the council meeting, one pro-Palestinian protestor described Israel’s leaders as “savages.”
“These are savages that are controlling Israel,” claimed Jihad Shawwa, a retired engineer for the NC Department of Transportation who was born in Gaza. “These are not human beings.”
A former police chief in the city who trained with Israeli police officers expressed regret at the resolution.
“None of the training had anything to do with militarization,” former police chief Jose Lopez, who retired in December 2015, told WRAL. “It was about leadership, it was learning about terrorism and then learning about how to interact with people who are involved in mass casualty situations and how to manage mass casualty situations.”
During his time as chief, Lopez said two of his commanders went to Washington, DC, to receive training from Israeli police, and he felt the experiences were valuable.
“It would be a shame that we would not be allowed to interact with police departments solely because someone believes we will be tainted,” he said.