Thanks to the Daily Beast who unearthed the connection between Israel and the ugly standoff in the St.Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. You can bet precious few North American papers would make the connection. As newspaper ownership has moved into predictable Murdoch like hands, many people are relying on online journals to get to the truth.
Since the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police in Missouri last weekend, the people of Ferguson have been subjected to a military-style crackdown by a squadron of local police departments dressed like combat soldiers, prompting residents to liken the conditions on the ground in Ferguson to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.
And who can blame them?
The dystopian scenes of paramilitary units in camouflage rampaging through the streets of Ferguson, pointing assault rifles at unarmed residents and launching tear gas into people’s front yards from behind armored personnel carriers (APCs), could easily be mistaken for a Tuesday afternoon in the occupied West Bank.
At least two of the four law enforcement agencies that were deployed in Ferguson up until Thursday evening — the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Police Department — received training from Israeli security forces in recent years.
It all started when a yet to be named Ferguson police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. According to witnesses, Brown was attempting to surrender with his hands up when a Ferguson police officer emptied his clip into Brown’s body, shooting the teen up to ten times.
For hours police left Brown’s lifeless body sprawled in the street uncovered as a growing number of residents gathered nearby demanding answers from authorities. Police responded by deploying K-9 units and riot squads to crush the crowd, predictably inciting a riot, which police used to justify more brute force.
But the people of Ferguson refuse to submit and have mobilized every single day to demand justice for Brown and an end to the racist undemocratic regime they live under.
Sounds like Palestinians.
“Hands up, don’t shoot” has become their rallying cry, a symbol of Brown in his last moments and what it means to be black in America, where every 28 hours an African-American is killed by a self-styled vigilante, security guard or police officer.
Still, police did not relent, prompting one Ferguson protester to shout at a row of military-style tactical vehicles, “You gonna shoot us? Is this the Gaza Strip?”
“Will we as a people rise up like the people of Gaza? Will our community be bombed like last night with tear gas? That was a terrorist attack,” remarked another Ferguson protester to The Daily Beast.
Meanwhile, journalists were manhandled and detained. Police were caught on video deliberately firing tear gas at an Al Jazeera America film crew as they were setting up their equipment.
While there is a wealth of scholarship on police militarization in the US, there has been little to no examination of the ways Israel’s security apparatus facilitates it.
Decades of testing and perfecting methods of domination and control on a captive and disenfranchised Palestinian population has given rise to a booming “homeland security industry” in Israel, that refashions occupation-style repression for use on marginalized populations in other parts of the world, including St. Louis.
Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement, a phenomenon that journalist Max Blumenthal dubbed “the Israelification of America’s security apparatus.” Israeli forces and US police departments are so entrenched that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has opened a branch in Tel Aviv.
In 2011, then St. Louis County Police Department chief Timothy Fitch attended the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) National Counter-Terrorism Seminar, an annual week-long Israeli training camp where US law enforcement executives “study first hand Israel’s tactics and strategies” directly from “senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from Israel’s intelligence and security services, and the Israel Defense Forces,” according to the ADL’s website. The ADL boasts of sending over 175 senior US law enforcement officials from 100 different agencies to the seminar since 2004, which are “taking the lessons they learned in Israel back to the United States.”
The ADL is just one of several pro-Israel groups forging close ties between US cops and Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus.
Another is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a neoconservative think tank that claims to have hosted some 9,500 law enforcement officials in its Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP) since 2004.
LEEP “takes delegations of senior law enforcement executives to Israel to study methods and observe techniques used in preventing and reacting to acts of terrorism” and “sponsors conferences within the United States, bringing Israeli experts before much larger groups of law enforcement leaders,” according to JINSA’s brochure.
Former St. Louis Police Department police chief Joseph Mokwa is listed as having traveled to Israel as part of a LEEP conference in February 2008.
Meanwhile, the scope of Israel’s influence on US law enforcement remains virtually ignored by the media despite the troubling implications of emulating an apartheid regime actively engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes.
The culture of racism and impunity that has long plagued American policing is deadly enough as it is. Adding Israeli-style repression to an already dangerous mix guarantees disaster.