The US-Israel Military Relationship and the US-Mexico Border
The horrific impacts of border militarization and the practices of racist agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) on border communities, immigrants, and people of color across the US have been well documented for years (see resources below).
Feeding into US imperialist policy, Israel has been an important partner and supporter of the militarization of the border and border agencies in a number of ways:
- Direct meetings between US and Israeli politicians, allowing for the exchange of ideology and border policy and practices
- Homeland Security Director Kirjsten Nielsen’s recent trip to Israel included a visit to the “hi-tech” fences blockading Gaza. Israel Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israeli TV he ‘reckons’ that some of what Nielson saw and learned in Israel “will certainly be implemented in what the United States is setting up on its border with Mexico.”
- Trump and Netanyahu continuously praised one another for their border militarization policies and border walls:
- In an interview with Fox News, Trump called a wall on the United States’ southern border “good for the heart of the nation in a certain way, because people want protection, and a wall protects. All you’ve got to do is ask Israel. They were having a total disaster coming across, and they had a wall. It’s 99.9 percent stoppage.
- “President Trump is right,” Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in response. “I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”
- Israeli corporations and technologies on the border
- In 2014, the US Department of Homeland Security awarded Elbit Systems a $145 million contract to erect and maintain surveillance towers along the Arizona/Sonora (Mexico) border.
- Fall 2017 Elbit announced a contract to deliver even more radar and surveillance towers to militarize the Mexico-US border area, boasting it offers “field proven architecture” tested on Palestinians.
- For more on Israel’s “security” industry, check out Israeli Companies Profit from Technologies Perfected Over 50 Years of Occupation and Trump Administration Hires Israeli Military Contractors to Build US-Mexico Border Wall
- US-Israel law enforcement exchange programs
- Many of these exchanges are sponsored by US-based organizations, including AIPAC, ADL, GILEE, JINSA, and the Jewish United Fund.
Through the Deadly Exchange campaign, we’re seeking to draw attention to this larger US-Israel military partnership, and force honest and important conversations on the role US Jewish institutions play in promoting #3.
ICE and ADL’s Exchange Programs with Israeli Military/Police
While simultaneously advocating for an end to family separation and the violence enacted by ICE and CBP, Jewish groups in the US, and in particular the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), have been facilitating exchanges between ICE and the Israeli military and national police— armed forces known for their records of heinous human rights abuses, torturing children, and killing unarmed protestors.
From the limited information available online, we know ADL took ICE officials to Israel at least 3 times during a 6 year period—2010, 2014, and 2015—and CBP officials at least once in 2016 through the organization’s National Counter-Terrorism Seminar (NCTS). NCTS allows US law enforcement to meet with Israeli military and police, and swap “best practices” at locations that have been the sites of Israel’s worst human rights abuses against the Palestinian people: checkpoints, prisons, settlements, and the airport. On a similar trip led by the Jewish United Fund in Chicago, participants watched a “live police exercise with helicopters, horse-mounted police, snipers, the K-9 unit and other resources involved in the monitoring, interdiction and detaining of cross-border infiltrators.”
As of 2017, ADL has apparently ended their practice of publishing online blog posts about NCTS delegations (this shift may or may not have something to do with the public launching of the Deadly Exchange campaign in May of 2017). As a result, we’re unable to verify whether ICE has participated in NCTS programs since 2015, and we’re now attempting to acquire that information through alternative, more resource-intensive avenues.
ADL also organizes an “elite” counter-terrorism seminar for law enforcement officials twice a year in the United States—the Advanced Training School—that consistently features a session on Israel’s “best practices and lessons learned in fighting terrorism,” presented by members of the Israeli military and Israel National Police, including Roy Valdman, former Israel National Police Chief Superintendent.
According to the limited information available from the ADL, ICE officials have participated in every single ATS session (8 in total) between June 2013 and December 2016.1
The ADL spoke out against Trump’s family separation policies and co-led a “Jewish Leadership Border Mission” August 21-22, 2018 with HIAS, visiting areas on either side of the US-Mexco border. So why did the ADL and other Jewish organizations help ICE officials and police trade tips with the officials in charge of Israel’s apartheid security policies? The real-world results of these exchanges have been Israeli & US officials sharing “worst practices” — deportation and detention, shoot-to-kill policies, massive spying and surveillance — that have become the go-to policies of agencies like ICE and police departments across the US.
These exchange programs fly in the face of years of resistance and grassroots organizing responsible for bringing the impacts of border militarization and ICE’s violence to light. That resistance has recently focused increasingly on building solidarity and connection with Palestinians, exposing Israeli corporate profiting on the border, and opposing US-Israel police exchange programs for ICE and CBP.
1 Immigration and Customs Enforcement participation in Advanced Training School sessions has included June 2013, December 2013, June 2014, December 2014, July 2015, December 2015, June 2016, and December 2016
Our Petition and the Movement to Shut Down ICE!
Today, groups like Mijente, Cosecha and Puente are leading the way in calling for the abolition of ICE, demilitarization of the border, and for safety BEYOND policing and incarceration, from the US-Mexico border to Palestine (see resources below).
Our chapters, rabbis, and members across the country have been following that leadership into the streets, and in addition, we’re demanding that ADL stop building connections between ICE and Israel. It’s time our communal institutions truly heeded the calls of grassroots activists and take an uncompromising stand against racist state agencies and state violence in all its forms.
Read our press release: Revealed: Deputy Director of ICE was sent by the ADL for Training with the Israeli Military.
The Impacts of Border Militarization via National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:
Indefensible: A Decade of Mass Incarceration of Migrants Prosecuted for Crossing the Border(July 2016). From Grassroots Leadership and Justice Strategies; an indictment of Operation Streamline and the criminalization of undocumented, prosecuted for entry and re-entry violations. An argument for an intersectional approach to migration and criminal justice.
On the Front Lines: Border Security, Migration, and Humanitarian Concerns in South Texas (February 2015). This report from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) provides an overview of the policies and consequences of US border policies in conflict with the increased flow of migrants across the border into South Texas. The report includes policy recommendations concerning due process, deportations, border security, and migrant deaths.
Border Network for Human Rights organizes an annual abuse documentation campaign to shine a light on the negative consequences of border militarization for borderlands communities. The 2013 preliminary report can be found here, and the full list of reports released by the BNHR can be accessed here. People Helping People of Arivaca, Arizona has also compiled resources on the presence of Border Patrol in their community. Watch a video of community members testifying on this subject in 2015.
A 2013 article by Jennifer Correa, “After 9/11 Everything Changed”: Re-Formations of State Violence in Everyday Life on the US–Mexico Border, documents the effects of border militarization in the lives of residents of Cameron County, Texas. Premised on the racialized fears rationalized by the ‘war on terror,’ the author argues that American communities and foreigners alike must go through the state violence expressed by this militarization.
Mother Jones has an in-depth report that narrates how the border zone has become post-constitutional warzone where constitutional rights no longer matter. This is a direct effect of indiscriminate border militarization, and US citizenship is not a defense against it.
#AbolishICE Organizing and Native/Immigrant/Palestinian Solidarity
- Article describing the history that lay the groundwork for the Abolish ICE demand, the incredible grassroots organizing that got us to this point and made the mainstreaming of a demand like ‘abolish ICE” possible: https://medium.com/@LaTania/we-fell-in-love-in-a-hopeless-place-a-grassroots-history-from-not1more-to-abolish-ice-23089cf21711
- Targeting Palantir and Silicon Valley tech companies: Tech workers must unite to defeat the deportation machine
- Mijente’s letter to Palantir: https://twitter.com/ConMijente/status/1024692788884107264
- Mijente action in San Diego this summer: https://vimeo.com/282784343?ref=tw-share
- “How to abolish ICE”: https://twitter.com/ConMijente/status/1013912159133110272
- The Red Nation on the linked criminalization of Native, Black, Indigenous, Immigrant, and Palestinian communities: https://therednation.org/2018/07/20/from-turtle-island-to-palestine-the-criminalization-of-indigenous-black-and-palestinian-are-linked/
- The Red Nation on solidarity between Native communities on the border and the Palestinian people: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/605046/summary
- Caravan of grassroots leaders of the Tohono O’odham, Mixtecos of Oaxaca, Palestinians and other indigenous communities draws connections between the struggle against border militarization in the US, Latin America, and Palestine: https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/From-Palestine-to-Mexico-Caravan-Denounces-Border-Militarization-20171114-0010.html
- World Without Walls delegation to Palestine: https://uscpr.org/worldwithoutwalls-delegation-in-palestine/