For U.S. Police, Refusing Israeli Training Is Not BDS – It’s Common Sense

Already accused of not doing enough to protect the lives of people of color, U.S. law enforcement would do well to stay away from joint programs with security forces that routinely oppress Palestinians

By Sari Bash

December 06, 2018 "Information Clearing House"   Decisions last week by two American police departments to withdraw from a training seminar with the Israeli police are fueling debate within Israel and the United States about the merits of the BDS movement – the 2005 Palestinian civil society call to boycott cooperation with official Israeli institutions, even where the activity itself is otherwise innocuous. BDS activists aim to pressure Israel to end the occupation, grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel and realize the right of return for Palestinian refugees, much as sports boycotts were a tool to pressure South Africa to end Apartheid. Yet thus far, most of the American individuals and institutions canceling their Israel-related activities have done so not as part of a general boycott but rather due to concerns about complicity in specific and serious human rights abuses. That was true for Airbnb’s decision to stop listing properties in unlawful Israeli settlements, and it is true of decisions by the Vermont State Police and Northampton, Massachusetts police department to cancel their planned training in Israel.

Since 2001, U.S. government agencies, together with nonprofit groups like the Anti-Defamation League, have sponsored police seminars for American police officers to learn from the Israeli experience in dealing with terrorism. A number of American civil society groups oppose the cooperation, expressing concern over the influence of Israeli military style policing tactics on U.S. police officers, at a time when the Movement for Black Lives is highlighting police brutality and unlawful use of lethal force against people of color.

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