Many American police forces proudly engage in exchange programs with Israeli police, where they are trained in the tactics Israel uses to suppress the Palestinian population. Israeli police are at war with Palestinians both inside Israel and in the West Bank. This is not community policing, not by a long shot.
American police who receive this training undoubtedly bring back this warrior approach to their engagement with their own communities, especially minorities. It is certainly too soon to blame any specific killing by any particular officer on techniques or attitudes learned during such exchanges. But clearly such programs aim to influence police behavior when they return home, and it’s credible to believe that the type of adversarial, even provocative approaches to policing witnessed in Israel would have such an impact.
In Baton Rouge, after the killing of Alton Sterling, 200 protesters gathered downtown to non-violently express their opposition to the police murder. Instead of treating these citizens with dignity and respect, the local police cornered them on two sides and closed in. When the police finally reached the protesters, they began clubbing them mercilessly. They arrested people after beating them for no discernible reason. One person, interviewed on NPR, believed he would die right then.
While it is true, American police forces have treated political protest this way in the past (i.e. Chicago 1968), the most visible example of this sort of in-your-face policing is the Israeli police and border police. When police open fire on unarmed Black men without provocation, how is different is it from the shoot-to-kill orders given to Israeli police during the current Knife Intifada?
Tonight’s post offers the frightening irony that an Israeli-made assault rifle, the Tavor, murdered the three Baton Rouge police officers who were killed by Gavin Long in revenge for the Sterling murder. This isn’t just any rifle. The Tavor was developed for use by the IDF. It’s the preferred weapon of a number of élite commando units including Shayetet 13, the Navy SEALS who murdered ten Turkish citizens on the Mavi Marmara.
Now, the Tavor is being marketed around the world, including in the U.S. Don’t ask me why a gun used as a weapon of war by Israel is available to virtually anyone in America who can pay for one. But that’s another story.
Two years ago, I published a post on the Tavor with the ironic title, A Gun Unto the Nations (a parody of the classical Zionist slogan, “a light unto the nations”). It contained some of the material following here.
The Israeli weapon won the 2014 Golden Bullseye awarded by American Rifleman as the Gun of the Year. The police supply company PoliceOne, has marketed the Tavor to American police departments. 15,000 of them were sold in 2015. Apparently, they believe that American cities should become the same sort of battlegrounds that rage in occupied Palestine, and that they should brandish the same sorts of weapons. The official IDF publication, BaMahaneh, even ran the headline: “Tavor Conquers America!” Unfortunately, Long appears to have gotten the marketing message before the Baton Rouge PD.