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Deadly Exchange: The Dangerous Consequences of American Law Enforcement Trainings in Israel

Deadly Exchange: The Dangerous Consequences of American Law Enforcement Trainings in Israel may not technically be a book, but this is my book blog and I’ll add a 57 page PDF report on US law enforcement officers traveling to Israel to train in apartheid policing if I want to! Honestly, 57 pages is a great length for this kind of non-fiction: this is a very specific topic that could be a heavy 300 page book, but is more useful as an accessible intro to the topic with a lot of leads to other pieces of literature. Information is not something that exists in a vacuum; this report is deliberately and explicitly designed to be acted on, by the sponsors of the report, Researching the American-Israeli Alliance and Jewish Voice for Peace, and the format works very well for that.

I came across this report after a friend sent me a bunch of links to documentaries about current conditions in Palestine. They were good documentaries, but it's hard for me to hold still long enough to watch movies. What I really wanted was something to read—the David Neiwert of Israeli apartheid. I’m still looking for that ultra-reliable source, but in the meantime I found Jewish Voice for Peace’s Facing the Nakba resource list, and this was the first thing that caught my eye. It hits squarely in the center of several of my weird obsessions: evangelical End Times prophecy and its influence on US foreign policy; fascist creep and the way US municipal police forces are militarizing in the context of the War on Terror; big tech, surveillance and the suppression of democracy; how to identify a villain.

Deadly Exchanges is a practical, thorough intro to the relationship between US and Israeli policing on several axes: surveillance, use of force, suppression/manipulation of media, racial profiling, etc. The report focuses mostly on the transfer of knowledge and practice from Israel to the US, which I found a little awkward. It’s probably strategic, in terms of getting buy-in for the Boycott, Sanction & Divest Movement from white liberals in the US, not to criticize the US too much. But I think you could write a similar report that showed the influence of American policing on Israel that highlighted the culpability of the US. It’s not like the US was free of social control and fascist policing before Israel came along to demonstrate it for us.

But it’s the nature of a feedback loop to be a little obscure: round and round it goes, and it’s hard to pin down exactly where it started. Certainly the training that Israel provides to municipal police does send them in a militaristic, controlling direction. And the report does acknowledge that “exchanges between US and Israeli law enforcement predate the War on Terror and have long been multi-directional.” While the US has imported surveillance tech created by Israeli tech companies, Israel has also imported American tech, including the NYPD’s CompStat technology, which uses statistical databases to manage police interactions with the community. Of course, it’s not just about tech—Israel also imported practices like ‘stop and frisk’ from the NYPD, and has continued to use searches without probable cause to intimidate and suppress the Palestinian population.

I found reading this report super useful. My one mistake is that I just downloaded it and read it offline, which I don’t recommend. There are a LOT of links to news reports and other research within the text, so reading it while connected to the internet will be much more useful. Follow the links! When I went back and did that, I found out that my local county sheriff is one of the US LEOs who has trained in Israel: Palestine is Here: Pierce County Sheriff Dept.

The bibliography is also pretty dope. I’m excited to pick through it and see which of these books are available at my library. For sure I’m going to follow up with Extraordinary Rendition: American Writers on Palestine, and I want to find people to go through the Network Against Islamophobia’s Two-Session Workshop Series: Challenging Islamophobia and Racism with me. If you want to do that, let me know! And if any of y’all have recommendations for well-written, accurately reported pop history books on the roots of Israeli apartheid, I would love to hear them. Like I mentioned, I’m still looking for the Dave Neiwert of Israeli history, and I’m sure they’re out there, the journalist/author of my dreams who is writing personal and exhaustively researched books on this topic.


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