A tiny little article in a recent edition of the Times of Israel may help us better understand why America's police forces are increasingly looking like Robocop when confronting demonstrators as shown in this collection of recent photographs from a protest in Baton Rouge.
Here's the excerpt from the Times of Israel:
Note that most of the American "law enforcement executives" are employed in sheriff's offices.
Given that the Israeli security forces term many of the Arabic and Palestinian people living among and adjacent to them as either "terrorists" or "potential terrorists", the fact that law enforcement officials from the United States are attending training sessions that will enable them to better battle domestic unrest/terrorism at home should be a bit concerning. As Ms. Gillies states, and it bears repeating:
"The mission to Israel is a tremendous opportunity for American law enforcement professionals to learn from their counterparts in the Middle East, draw from the latest developments in terrorism prevention and bring these methods back home to implement in their communities."
Let's look at how Israel's National Police Force handles protestors:
Does any of this look familiar?
According to a 2009 article by The Electronic Intifada, Israel's specialized police capacity took shape after the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war when the Israeli government deemed it necessary to suppress the resistance of the people whose land they occupied in the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. In large part, the current tactics used by Israel's security forces are adapted from their confrontations with the "guerrilla forms of violence "that confront them" with each side learning from each other's tactics. Here is a key comment from a book , "Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation" by Eyal Weisman:
"This reciprocal cycle of tactical evolution, and intertwined relationship of Israel’s police and army, is proving politically valuable to Israel by helping to shape international norms on policing more like its own."
Lest we think that American police forces are the sole beneficiaries of Israeli police tactics, other nations like India, China and even "peaceful" Canada have arrangements with their Israeli counterparts. In fact, in the case of Canada, former Minister of Public Safety and Prime Ministerial wannabe, Stockwell Day, announced a 2008 Declaration of Intent to enhance co-operation between Canada's own public safety ministry and Israel's Public Security Ministry as shown here:
Let's go back to Israel and the United States. According to the 2009 article at The Electronic Intifada, police forces including those in Atlanta, Boston, Cambridge, MA, Detroit, Knoxville, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle (among many others) have trained or are training with Israeli police forces, learning how to handle "miscreants". Here is a screen capture from an article on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) website showing the close co-operation between former Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, and Israeli Minister of Public Security, Avi Dichter, touting their February 2007 Memorandum of Understanding regarding homeland security:
Please observe that the article highlights that several states have "recognized Israel's valuable input in protecting the American public", noting that Illinois, Maryland and Michigan have garnered up with Israel and that:
"American law-enforcement officers and first responders are increasingly studying Israel’s battle against terrorism to glean lessons for U.S. efforts to protect its citizens. Israel frequently hosts delegations of American police chiefs, sheriffs and emergency responders. These officials have returned to infuse their departments’ training with lessons on how Israeli security forces prevent terrorist attacks such as suicide bombings."
Let's close this posting with a quote from current Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department for the District of Columbia, Cathy Lanier, about her "Israeli experience" back in 2005:
"No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel."
Perhaps now we have a better understanding why today's police forces...
...look more and more like Robocop and why civilians are being treated like an "enemy force".