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Seven members of Jewish Voice for Peace arrested in demonstration at ADL

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Nearly 100 activists with the New York City chapter of grassroots organization Jewish Voice for Peace attempted Wednesday night to deliver a petition to the New York headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), calling for an end to ADL sponsorship of annual tactical, policy and technology exchanges between law enforcement in the U.S. and Israel.

Jewish Voice for Peace (incidentally the subject of a 2014 ADL report entitled “Imagine a World Without Hate”) members convened at ADL offices in 15 different U.S. cities, in a coordinated effort to spotlight these “Deadly Exchanges.” The demonstrations mark the inaugural day of action to pressure the ADL — a self-described premier U.S. civil rights organization — to end its support for the state-sanctioned discrimination and repression of communities of color in both the U.S. and Israel.

ADL offices in each city referred activists to the organization’s headquarters in New York where, they said, the more than 20,000 petition signatures would be accepted.

JVP demonstrators in Los Angeles on Wednesday November 8, 2017

But ADL executives in New York rejected the petition, refused to meet with activists and the night ended with seven arrests.

The one hundred or so activists crammed into the ADL lobby at end of business Wednesday with chants like “20,000 people say/end police exchanges today!”

Once inside, JVP members read testimonies of Palestinians, Ethiopian Jews and other Israelis of color affected daily by discriminatory police practices and overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Many of these very same policies have been steadily outsourced to law enforcement agencies in the U.S.

The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world, disproportionately affecting people of color. One out of every 15 men of color see the inside of a jail cell during their lifetime in the U.S.; the same is true for 1 in 5 Palestinians living in Israel and the West Bank, a region with a smaller population.

“Hearing the testimonies of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike inspired so much hope, strength, resilience and resistance,” MJ Edery, member of JVP-NYC told Mondoweiss. As did the extreme surveillance and harassment detailed in another testimony about a 13 year old Palestinian girl’s daily experience at checkpoints.

The petition calls for an end to the ADL’s sponsorship of these “Deadly Exchanges,” which pair U.S. law enforcement leaders with those of the Israel National Police and Israel Defense Forces.

High-ranking U.S. law enforcement officials representing nearly 100 different federal, state and local agencies — including the tyrannical and emboldened Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, which has acted under an increasingly autonomous mandate since the election of President Trump — have taken part in these annual exchanges for more than a decade.

JVP demonstrators in Chicago on November 8, 2017

The program boasts that it “enables American law enforcement commanders to benefit from Israel’s counter-terrorism experience.”

“The ADL didn’t take our petition,” Rebecca Vilkomerson, JVP executive director, wrote in an email the following day, “but after a day of beautiful, inspiring, powerful actions, I know they got the message.”

The ideological incongruence inherent in an organization that claims to protect civil rights but in doing so, contributes to one of the gravest ongoing civil rights abuses happening today in Israel and the West Bank is simply “antithetical to the purpose of civil rights,” Asaf Calderon, JVP member and Israeli expatriate told Mondoweiss. Furthermore, “as a Jewish organization, we feel it is important to hold other community members accountable.”

JVP fully recognizes racism as endemic to policing. Therefore, the “Deadly Exchange” campaign and actions are not an accusation of racism in law enforcement; but rather recognition that these exchanges are “sharpening the skills” of discriminatory policing in both the U.S. and Israel, added Calderon.

From NYPD departments that routinely surveil mosques and Muslim cultural centers in the tristate area to border patrol agents enforcing a massive deportation policy, JVP has traced these “Deadly Exchanges” to numerous corners of U.S. law enforcement agencies. Not only is Israel’s booming weapons technology and infrastructure economy outsourced around the world, but U.S. police regularly go on ADL- and other Jewish Group-sponsored trips to train with Israeli officers.

The result so far has been a rather symbiotic relationship — if not utterly disastrous for civil rights.

For example, after the “stop-and-frisk” practice was outlawed in New York as unconstitutional because of its reliance on racial profiling, Israel’s Knesset passed its own “stop-and-frisk” law. Israeli authorities also emulate the now-defunct but still de facto “broken windows” policy begun by the NYPD in the 1990s.

And as “counter-terrorism” has twisted into a much broader definition in recent years, Israeli paramilitary policies have begun regularly appearing in American cities. Famously, during the 2014 Ferguson Uprising after the shooting death of unarmed African-American teenager Mike Brown, long simmering tensions between communities of color and a police force widely viewed as racist boiled over into days of protest.

The tactics employed by area-police on unarmed protesters — teargas, armored vehicles and rubber bullets especially — drew instant comparisons to Israel’s occupation forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Indeed, according to research conducted by the “Deadly Exchange” program, multiple St. Louis area police chiefs and executives had participated in ADL-sponsored National Counter-Terrorism Seminars in Israel.

When activists were told to leave the lobby, all but seven ranging in ages from 24- to 72- years old obliged. By this point, some 30 NYPD officers had arrived, according to one account, to arrest the seven remaining.

“As we were being arrested — as the NYPD showed up — we were proclaiming our vision of safety and liberation,” MJ Edery told Mondoweiss after being released from custody more than twenty hours later. Edery did not speak to whether or not charges were filed.

JVP activists were clear about their intentions to not only be anti-police exchanges, but to put forth an essentially abolitionist alternative vision, based strictly on community building and solidarity.

“[The Justice] System is designed to repress communities of color,” Edery added. This is why it is important that activists “envision restorative instead of punitive justice.”

The ADL has not returned requests for comment.


Jesse Rubin

Jesse Rubin is a freelance journalist from New York. Twitter: @JesseJDRubin

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11 Responses

  1. Nathan on November 11, 2017, 3:53 am

    I would have expected that a demonstartion by the Jewish Voice for Peace would shout some slogan about peace. How about something like: “Let’s end this conflict once and for all”. It would be a breath of fresh air to hear a suggestion for ending the conflict. However, even though “peace” is part of the organization’s title, I don’t think there is any end-of-conflict scenario. The same is true for other anti-Israel groups (BDS or Mondoweiss). There are endless grievances against Israel, but you never hear in clear terms that correcting these grievances would mean that the conflict is resolved. Apparently, a statement that defines the end of conflict would be understood as an acceptance of Israel’s existence as permanent and final.

    • Misterioso on November 11, 2017, 10:43 am


      In 1988, the PLO recognized Israel as a sovereign state within the borders of the 1947 recommendatory only UNGA Partition Plan, Res. 181, which violated the terms of the British Class A Mandate for Palestine and the Atlantic Charter, was never adopted by the UNSC and was grossly unfair to the indigenous Palestinian Arab inhabitants.

      By signing the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PLO accepted UNSC Res. 242 and thereby agreed to recognize a sovereign Israel within the 1949 armistice lines, i.e., as of 4 June 1967 – 78% of mandate Palestine.

      The PLO also agreed to the US/EU/UN supported 2002 Arab League Beirut Summit Peace Initiative, which offers Israel full recognition as a sovereign state (per UNSC Res. 242, i.e., within its June 4/67 boundaries with possible minor, equal and mutually agreed land swaps), exchange of ambassadors, trade, tourism, etc., if Israel complies with international law (e.g., the UN Charter, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute.) Fully aware of Israel’s demographic concerns, the Beirut initiative does not demand the return of all Palestinian refugees. In accordance with Israel’s pledge given to the UNGA in 1949 and by signing the 1949 Lausanne Peace Conference Protocol to abide by UNGA Res. 194 regarding the then 800,000 Palestinian refugees as a precondition for admittance to the UN (after being rejected twice), the Arab League’s Initiative “calls upon Israel to affirm” that it agrees to help pursue the “achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem…”

      In all likelihood, only a small percentage of Palestinians would choose to return to what is now Israel, i.e., west of the green line. The reasons should be obvious. The vast majority, in accordance with UNGA Resolution 194, would choose sufficient financial compensation to enable them to build new lives and invest in an independent Palestinian state based on the 4 June 1967 borders or emigrate elsewhere.

      Along with all Arab states and the PLO, Hezbollah and Iran have also accepted the Arab League’s 2002 Beirut Summit Peace Initiative. (In its revised Charter, April, 2017, Hamas agreed to a Palestinian state based on the 4 June 1967 borders. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Israel promptly rejected the Hamas overture instead of using it to open a dialogue.)

      Regrettably, then Israeli PM Ariel Sharon summarily dismissed the Arab League’s peace overture, as did Israel in 2008 and thereafter.

      For the record, other peace initiatives that Israeli governments have rebuffed include: U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers’ The Rogers Plan (1969); The Scranton Mission on behalf of President Nixon (1970); Egyptian President Sadat’s land for peace and mutual recognition proposal (1971); U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s call for a Geneva international conference (1977); Saudi Arabian King Fahd’s peace offer (1981); U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s Reagan Plan (1982); U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz’s Schultz Plan (1988); U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s Baker Plan (1989); and the previously noted 1993 Oslo accords signed by Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that unravelled following the latter’s assassination and subsequent return to power of the Likud party from 1996-1999 under Benjamin Netanyahu; continuation of the Taba II negotiations (2001); the unofficial Geneva Peace Initiative of November/December 2003; and the 2014 Kerry Initiative.

      As for the much touted 2000 Camp David Summit, working in tandem, Barak and Clinton tried to shove a very bad deal down Arafat’s throat. It could only be rejected. Suffice to quote Shlomo Ben-Ami, then Israel’s foreign minister and lead negotiator at Camp David: “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.” (National Public Radio, 14 February 2006.)

      The “offer” made in 2008 by then Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was never seen as serious because it lacked cabinet approval, he was under indictment with only a few weeks left in office, had a 6% favorable rating, and, therefore, couldn’t have closed the deal, even if the Palestinians had accepted it. (Olmert was imprisoned.)

      Unfortunately, Israel’s response to every peace overture from the Palestinians and Arab states, has been an escalation of illegal settlement construction in occupied Palestinian and other Arab lands.

    • Kathleen on November 11, 2017, 10:45 am

      Clearly the JVP protest was focused on a particular issue that day

      “The petition calls for an end to the ADL’s sponsorship of these “Deadly Exchanges,” which pair U.S. law enforcement leaders with those of the Israel National Police and Israel Defense Forces.”


      In regard to BDS push for “ending the conflict”

      Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
      International law recognises the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights as occupied by Israel. As part of its military occupation, Israel steals land and forces Palestinians into ghettos, surrounded by checkpoints, settlements and watchtowers and an illegal apartheid Wall. Israel has imposed a medieval siege on Gaza , turning it into the largest open air prison in the world. Israel also regularly carries out large-scale assaults on Gaza that are widely condemned as constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity

      Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality
      One-fifth of Israel’s citizens are Palestinians who remained inside the armistice lines after 1948. They are subjected to a system of racial discrimination enshrined in more than 50 laws that impact every aspect of their lives. The Israeli government continues to forcibly displace Palestinian communities in Israel from their land. Israeli leaders routinely and openly incite racial violence against them.

      Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194
      Since its violent establishment in 1948 through the ethnic cleansing of more than half of the indigenous people of Palestine, Israel has set out to control as much land and uproot as many Palestinians as it can. As a result of this systematic forced displacement, there are now more than 7.25 million Palestinian refugees. They are denied their right to return to their homes simply because they are not Jewish.

      In regard to JVP’s efforts to “end the conflict”

      JVP’s /Jewish Voice for Peace: Mission Statement

      JVPopposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression. JVP seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East. Current mission statement adopted in 2009.

    • larick on November 11, 2017, 3:16 pm

      “shout some slogan about peace. ” Apparently Nathan would rather play “blemish” and kvetch than get out and do something. His main gripe seems to be that JVP doesn’t proclaim an “”end-of-conflict-scenario”. So it their banner would have said “Israel out of all occupied now- Implement the Right of Return!”, he would have been more pleased. My question to Nathan would be, what is Your bottom line: the right of Jewish colonization at any cost to the Palestinian people? Let’s here your grand scheme to “define the end of the conflict.”

    • biggerjake on November 12, 2017, 10:46 pm

      How about this for an end-of-conflict scenario:

      The United Nations finally comes to the obvious conclusion that the last thing the world needs is a so called “Jewish state” and recognizes that the very idea is a racist, colonialist one that has no place in the modern world.

      The United States finally stops supporting Israel in any and every way and instead gives 5 billion dollars in annual financial and military aid to the Palestinians, including nuclear weapons. In addition the US pledges unconditional support for the Palestinians including sending 500,000 troops to the area if necessary.

      Israel is de-certified as a country and the entire region resumes its rightful name of Palestine.
      All lands taken illegally by Israel will be returned to the original Palestinian owners. All illegal settlements in the West Bank are destroyed and the “wall” is torn down.

      Palestine becomes a secular country dedicated to the absolute separation of church/synagog/mosque and state with a constitution that guarantees that all people are created equal regardless of religion, sex, sexual orientation, color, tribe, etc.

      The ADL, AIPAC, CAMERA, and all other organizations that support Israel in the US are declared to be illegal and found to be enemies of the state which has been obvious for years. JVP and Jews for Justice for Palestinians are given special status to monitor the new Middle East order for the US government.

  2. JosephA on November 11, 2017, 5:38 am

    The Anti-defamation league, by promoting racism and discrimination, should lose its tax-exempt status. What a wonderful group of protestors and organizers to bear witness to the horrors inflicted on the indigenous Palestinians in the lobby of such an organization, keep up the good work!

    • john_manyjars on November 12, 2017, 8:33 am

      The ADL, and much of the European colonizers, have become what they claim to fear. All that’s missing are the Hugo Boss uniforms.

  3. Kathleen on November 11, 2017, 10:48 am

    What an important protest….thanks to all who participated.

  4. Elizabeth Block on November 11, 2017, 2:49 pm

    “Only a small percentage of Palestinians would choose to return…”
    True. But Nora Karmi, of Sabeel (an organization of Christian Palestinians) said, “We want our right acknowledged.”

    As for the Anti-Defamation League, as far as I can tell they are like Bnai Brith – they used to be a civil-liberties org, but are now just shills for Israel.

  5. echinococcus on November 11, 2017, 4:53 pm

    “Only a small percentage of Palestinians would choose to return…”

    …as long as Palestine is under the boot of the invader. Duh.

    But Nora Karmi, of Sabeel (an organization of Christian Palestinians) said, “We want our right acknowledged.”

    Foremost of these rights is the right to all of Palestine.

  6. chocopie on November 14, 2017, 12:34 am

    “Only a small percentage of Palestinians would choose to return…”

    Are you sure? Maybe. I know some who would return. I’m not sure of percentages.

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