Trax News Original Content Written by Faizah Haider
Police brutality in America has once again dominated global headlines following the undignified death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer. The world is well aware that this is not an isolated incident, but a daily occurrence for the ethnic minorities of America which has sparked protests worldwide in anger. Receiving minimal media coverage in contrast is the series of unlawful killings of Palestinians by the Israeli police force in a similar way in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. This abuse of State power is not hidden or even attempted to be covered up, yet it is something the world chooses to ignore. The two situations may seem independent of each other as a random incidence of a failed policing system, but in actual fact they are strongly linked. Tactics based on racial profiling and the aggressive prevention of protests are shared between the US and Israel over years of their political cooperation. The militarized police force in Israel even offers training to US police officers, with techniques challenged by human rights organisations including, the use of excessive force for crowd control, detainment and mass surveillance, targeted towards minority ethnic groups. Law enforcement officials from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, New York, Arizona, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Washington state as well as the DC Capitol police have all received training in Israel.
In 2011, Israeli surveillance and US-manufactured tear gas canisters were used in protests in Oakland California, and Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Over 100 police officers from Minnesota attended a conference in 2012 hosted by the Israeli consulate in Chicago, where they learnt counter-terrorism techniques. The co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) made a statement on the link of police training, “When I saw the picture of killer cop Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd by leaning in on his neck with his knee as he cried for help and other cops watched, I remembered noticing when many Israeli soldiers began using this technique of leaning in on our chest and necks when we were protesting in the West Bank sometime in 2006.”
Just a few days after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, Iyad Halak a Palestinian man in Palestine who suffered from severe autism was shot and killed by Israeli border police chased through the narrow streets of Jerusalem. His phone was mistaken for a weapon and he was deemed dangerous, as his special needs badge he was wearing on the way to school was also ignored. Just as with the case of George Floyd, the officers involved are most likely to have immunity for their actions, being placed on house arrest, and without any video footage being released as evidence; ironically this comes from one of the most surveyed cities in the world.
Both Jewish and Arab groups united to protest against police brutality, this is not about race, but about abuse of state powers and the militarization of the police force. Protestors, a majority of which were Jewish Israelis marched to condemn the shooting, holding placards of, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Palestinian Lives Matter’ with photos of both Halak and Floyd.
Only solidarity can prevent the global militarization of the police force and pressure from human rights groups is helping. The use of torture against children, unlawful killings, surveillance and use of excessive force against non-violent protestors is being highlighted, something the US citizens reactions have influenced to stop police training by Israeli intelligence forces. Durham in North Carolina has become the first US city to ban police training with Israeli military, let’s hope it begins a precedent to preserve human rights.