As the death toll near the border in Gaza continues to grow, and Israeli military snipers shoot and kill innocent women and children, journalists, and nurses rendering aid to wounded victims, Americans should consider the influence Israeli forces are having on police in the United States, given the extensive training select law enforcement officials receive during seminars in Israel that have been ongoing for years.
It may sound like a “conspiracy theory,” but the close relationship between the U.S. and Israel—which costs American taxpayers nearly $4 billion a year—has extended to the training of law enforcement, and dozens of American officials are sent to Israel to train with Israeli law enforcement each year.
In September 2017, the Jerusalem Post reported that 52 American police officers from 12 states made a special trip to Israel “to train in counterterrorism techniques and attend an annual 9/11 memorial service outside Jerusalem” with the Police Unity Tour, which was established in 1997. During the trip, the delegation of officers was based at the Beit Shemesh police academy where they participated in counterterrorism drills and received training from Israeli military and police before they concluded on Sept. 11 with a 9/11 memorial service.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the Post that he believes the “ongoing security threats” in Israel present the perfect situation for officers from around the world to receive training that will shape the way they view their jobs at home.
“In terms of counterterrorism tactics that have been used and implemented at numerous scenes across the country, where unfortunately terrorist attacks have taken place, the Israeli police have used those tactics to minimize injuries, as well as find rapid solutions,” Rosenfeld said.
The National Counter-Terrorism Seminar included training on topics such as “leadership in a time of terror” and “balancing the fight against crime and terrorism.” More than 200 law enforcement executives from over 100 departments in the United States—including immigration officials and campus police—have participated in the program since it launched in 2004, according to a report from The Intercept:
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“In the aftermath of 9/11, Israel seized on its decades-long experience as an occupying force to brand itself as a world leader in counterterrorism. U.S. law enforcement agencies took the Jewish state upon its expertise by participating in exchange programs sponsored by an array of pro-Israel groups, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and the Anti-Defamation League. Over the past decade and a half, scores of top federal, state, and local police officers from dozens of departments from across the U.S. have gone to Israel to learn about its terrorism-focused policing.”
The training sessions began happening regularly after 9/11, and the Jewish Virtual Library noted that they have been presented as a way to show that “American police and law enforcement officials are taking advantage of Israel's expertise in various facets of counter-terrorism and first response to better protect the American people.” A timeline from the Library highlighted how the program has developed over the years:
- 2002 – Los Angeles Police Department Detective Ralph Morten visited Israel to receive training and advice on preparing security arrangements for large public gatherings.
- 2003 – 33 senior U.S. law enforcement officials from cities including Washington, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia, traveled to Israel to attend a meeting on "Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror."
- 2003 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials.
- 2011 – A delegation of American police commanders, security experts and FBI agents, traveled to Israel for a joint training seminar with Israeli counter-terrorism officials, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.
- 2012 – The New York Police Department opened an Israeli branch at the Sharon District Police Headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Kfar Saba.
- 2013 – A special team of bomb squad members from cities along the U.S.-Mexico border traveled to Israel to improve techniques and tactics for dealing with illegal immigration.
When David Grosso, a city council member in Washington D.C., learned that D.C. Metropolitan Police Commander Morgan Kane was a member of the 2017 trip, he wrote a letter to the department’s chief of police arguing that no matter where the training was taking place, the last thing the U.S. needs is more militarization among local police when what is actually needed is a community-based approach.
“I am concerned that we are not doing enough to prevent the militarization of law enforcement in the District of Columbia,” Grosso wrote. “Learning from military advisors is not what local law enforcement needs.”
Given the fact that police in the United States already have easy access to military equipment—in fact, a police department with only eight officers obtained $3 million worth of military vehicles, weapons, and equipment—the idea that departments are receiving extensive military training should raise major red flags.
The training seminars are also incredibly troubling because of the fact that American law enforcement officials are working alongside a military that openly promotes the idea that it is acceptable to shoot and kill both peaceful protesters and innocent women, children, journalists and medics who pose no threat to them whatsoever. Each police officer in the United States who adopts the mentality that such cruel and inhumane killings are justified will start to apply the same mindset to his fellow citizens, and he can no longer claim that his true intent is “to serve and protect.”