Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank has essentially been a 50-year experiment of how to come up with the most effective way to suppress, humiliate, and deprive a native population from living a dignified life. Palestinian protesters in the West Bank are subjected to humiliating and dehumanizing practices from Israeli police and soldiers, including the use of so called “Skunk”—a liquid dispersed from water cannons to disperse protesters that The Economist characterizes as having the odor of “raw sewage mixed with putrefying cow’s carcass”. Other methods of crowd control include firing indiscriminant tear gas on Palestinians living in refugee camps, including children.
Here in the United States, two of the four law enforcement agencies in Ferguson, Missouri received training from Israeli security forces, and it’s no surprise that the tactics used by police during protests in Ferguson resembled military-style repression used in Israel (such as the use of tear gas). As students who live in the Triangle, the thought of Durham police learning about these methods and potentially adopting them makes our stomach churn.
There is no shortage of examples of the disproportionate use of force against African Americans and people of color more broadly by American police forces, and it’s no surprise that a state built on the exclusion of non-Jews also has a startling problem with state-sanctioned racism. Israel cannot be a model to emulate. Not in the Triangle, nor the rest of the United States.
Sadly, but unsurprisingly, American police in various cities throughout the U.S. are currently still training or open to training its police with Israel, and are especially interested in learning about how to best “manage” disobedient crowds. However, increased police militarization makes the disturbing and unfounded presumption that citizens inherently pose a threat to public welfare which warrants these drastic militarization efforts that purportedly require the police to use extreme violence.
This presumption of guilt is racialized in its conceptions of who constitutes a “threat” and manifest in its historical violence against people of color. If the Triangle wants to maintain its reputation of being a socially progressive region that wants to rectify historical injustices against vulnerable members of its society, then it must adopt this resolution to demilitarize and make connections to marginalized populations living abroad.
Students for Justice in Palestine