A Minneapolis police officer kills an unarmed black man suspected of passing a phony $20 bill.
Outraged people take to the street in protest demanding justice for George Floyd. But others quickly jumped in to exploit a crisis. That’s where rioting and looting come in.
Israel bashers looked at the situation and saw a different kind of opportunity – a chance to further sow hatred and suspicion against Jews and Israel.
They push an anti-Semitic narrative: When an African-American is killed by a police officer, Israel is to blame.
Al-Awda, the Palestine Right of Return Coalition, which has ties to terrorist groups in the Middle East, issued a statement Monday that featured a cartoon showing an American police officer and an Israeli soldier, arm-in-arm, sitting with their knees over the necks of a black man and a Palestinian man respectively.
The cartoon first appeared Friday on the Fatah Facebook page, Palestine Media Watch reported. Fatah is the main political Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) political party that runs the Palestinian Authority. The cartoon was published Monday in the PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.
“As indigenous people of Palestine,” the Al-Awda statement said, “we have firsthand experience of what it’s like to live under the boot of white/European settler-colonialism, apartheid and racist genocidal violence as it is wielded by Israel’s regime of oppression – with the military funding and unconditional support of the US government – to dispossess us, ethnically cleanse us, and reduce us to lesser humans.”
It called for the “Release of all Black political prisoners in U.S. jails,” including convicted cop-killers Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, Mumia Abu Jamal, and Mutulu Shakur, whose crimes Al-Awda discarded as “defending their people.”
It also called for the “dismantling of the current structures of U.S. policing, including putting a permanent end to the ‘Deadly Exchange’ between the U.S. and Israeli repressive forces, which has included the Minnesota police. This alliance is deadly both to Black and Palestinian communities.”
This is a reference to the Anti-Defamation League’s weeklong “Leadership Seminar in Israel” program that has hosted more than 200 American police officials since it started in 2003. Israel bashers have spent years inciting anti-Semitism by exaggerating the program’s influence in an attempt to link the cause of police killing unarmed black people with Palestinian nationalism. In 2014, Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson, Mo. police officer, the BDS Movement tied Israel to his death by coining a slogan, “From Ferguson to Palestine.”
In fact, the ADL program includes no hands-on, tactical training.
Rather, participants on a 2018 trip met with officials ranging from a “Christian-Arab Police Chief overseeing Jerusalem’s Old City, to the Palestinian Commander of the Bethlehem District; from a mother who survived a near-fatal terror attack who is dedicated to instilling courage in children of disabled parents, to an astute Palestinian journalist who offered an overview of the region’s challenges.”
But as the Al-Awda statement shows, facts aren’t going to get in the way of an incendiary narrative.
Anti-Semitic Palestinian advocate Linda Sarsour has made the argument that the ADL – the nation’s most recognizable Jewish organization – is responsible for police killings in America before at least two significant audiences: the 2018 Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention and during the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March on Washington that was organized by Louis Farrakhan.
“If you believe in the idea of ending police brutality and the misconduct of law enforcement officers across the country,” Sarsour said at the ISNA convention, “then you do not support an organization that takes police officers from America, funds their trips, takes them to Israel so they can be trained by the Israeli police and military, and then they come back here and do what? Stop and frisk, killing unarmed black people across the country.”
The Floyd killing pumped new energy into that blood libel.
- Samidoun, a group that advocates for the release of Palestinian terrorists who it innocently calls “prisoners,” issued a statement last Thursday saying “the United States and Israel not only share a common settler-colonial, racist foundation and fundamental reality, billions of dollars in military assets and a joint imperialist project in the Arab region but also tactics, trainings and ‘security’ frameworks used against Black communities in the United States and against Palestinians living under occupation, apartheid and colonialism.”
- The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), a group that advocates for the elimination of Israel, argued that “The Israeli military trains US police in racist and repressive policing tactics, which systematically targets Black and Brown bodies. The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are examples of racialized, systematized violence.”
- In the Middle East Monitor, Nasim Ahmed cited a report by the anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), saying “police brutality of the kind that led to the death of George Floyd is both deeply embedded in American policing and also reinforced by the exchange of the ‘best practices’ and expertise in counter-terrorism techniques taught to US law enforcement officials during their training in Israel.”
- The Algemeiner reported on Democratic Socialists of America’s BDS national working group to arguing a week ago that police violence “in Minneapolis is straight out of the IDF [Israeli military] playbook. How many times have we seen uprisings in Gaza met w/ a storm of tear gas? … US cops train in Israel.”
- Veterans Today, a fringe anti-Semitic outlet that claims Israel was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, has published several articles trying to blame the Floyd killing on Israeli training. “What happened in Minneapolis,” wrote Sami Jamil Jadallah, “is a reminder that that police trained in Israel by forgetting that America is not Israel where police are held responsible and accountable for even the use of excessive force. I call on All police departments to cancel and revoke all training in Israel.”
If anyone actually reads the fine print of the accusations made by the anti-Israeli groups and activists, they won’t find any back up of their contrived claims.
For all the allegations made by JVP, USCPR, Samidoun, the Democratic Socialists, Sarsour and so many others, no one has identified any actual Israeli training that encourages shooting or killing unarmed people of any kind. There is no evidence that the program has played any role in any deadly American police action.
The JVP report Ahmed relies on, for example, is incredibly thin on specifics.
Instead, the report makes the sweeping claim that American police learn “an official policy of marking entire populations as suspect, a model that is in direct opposition to efforts to end the racial profiling that has long been constitutive of American policing.”
Yet, in nearly 20 years of an ADL program that works with police officials who are black, white, Latin, male and female, not one participant has claimed the instruction came anywhere close to racism or advocated any kind of abuse.
A second organization, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), also runs an exchange program matching American police with their Israeli counterparts. Like the ADL program, JINSA director of Counterterrorism Programs, and former assistant FBI director for counter-terrorism, Steven L. Pomerantz wrote in 2018, “programs like these do not provide military-style training to participants, nor do they encourage suppression of political rights and civil liberties.”
But a narrative doesn’t always need evidence to be effective. Some protesters seem to buy the narrative. A Los Angeles synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, was defaced with “free Palestine” and “f*** Israel” spray-painted on its front wall.
Instead, it’s a simple equation. The people trying to connect George Floyd’s killing to the world’s only Jewish state believe everything about Israel is bad. It’s no coincidence that some of the same people blaming Israel for the death of George Floyd were also behind the blood libel that Israel was deliberately spreading the coronavirus among Palestinians.
This column was originally published at The Investigative Project on Terrorism.
The views expressed in CCNS member articles are not necessarily the views or positions of the entire CCNS. They are the views of the authors, who are members of the CCNS.