How do we achieve real safety?
The deadly falsehood that violence against some communities will create security for others is perpetuated by the policies of both the U.S. and Israeli government. One of the most dangerous places where the regimes of Trump and Netanyahu converge are in exchange programs that bring together police, ICE, border patrol, and FBI from the US with soldiers, police, border agents, etc from Israel. In these programs, “worst practices” are shared to promote and extend discriminatory and repressive policing practices that already exist in both countries, including extrajudicial executions, shoot-to-kill policies, police murders, racial profiling, massive spying and surveillance, deportation and detention, and attacks on human rights defenders.
As Jewish Americans and allies, we believe that building a vision and practice of collective safety is essential. As a Jewish organization dedicated to safety and justice for all peoples, we see it as our duty to draw the line at these exchanges. We want to join in efforts to expand the definition of sanctuary to mean that all people targeted by aggressive policing – including immigrants and refugees, as well as all people of color, Muslims, trans and queer people – are safe to live their lives.
Who is doing this?
Thousands of the highest ranking police officials and law enforcement executives across the country have participated in the exchange programs, which are primarily billed as opportunities for U.S. law enforcement to learn counterterrorism tactics from the Israeli military and police. These exchanges are organized by a range of governmental and non-governmental actors, but we were disturbed to learn that many are initiated by Jewish organizations, including the neo-conservative Jewish Institute on National Security of America (JINSA), Jewish Federations, the Anti-Defamation League, and even Birthright.
We believe civil rights organizations and Jewish communal institutions have no business participating in further endangering those in Trump and Bibi’s crosshairs by dispatching police, ICE and FBI agents to trade tips with an occupying army. We also believe so called progressive cities must end their participation in these programs.
Successful organizing is about seeing where we can slow, stall, or chip away at the big systems hurting us, our communities, and our neighbors. Although we know that ending these exchanges will not end police violence or deportations in the U.S., abolish Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, or terminate all security collusion between the U.S. and Israel, we must start somewhere. This is one small contribution that JVP can and should be making to the larger fight against state violence. Collectively we have the power to stop these police exchange programs, and we think it’s a critical way to move towards liberation and justice for all.