Ending the Deadly Exchange: The Occupation of Palestine & Black Lives Matter
For 70 years, Palestinians have actively resisted Israel’s settler colonialism, land theft, occupation, and racist policy. They are a resolute inspiration to Freedom Fighters all over the globe, yet, their brave resistance demands solidarity. Socialists in the U.S. must demand the defunding of Israel’s military machine. Most American taxpayers are unaware of the 3.8 billion dollars allocated each year to one of the most advanced, nuclear armed military nations in the world. Vital taxpayer dollars should be reallocated to local communities and provide reparations for the endless damages caused by colonialism in the global south.
Israeli armed forces, including the military and police units, have a well-documented history of brutal violence and grave human rights abuses, particularly profiling, surveillance, mistreatment of prisoners, and suppression of social movements. Checkpoints routinely force Palestinians into lengthy interrogations and strip searches. Home demolitions and forced evictions occur with impunity. 96% of the water in the Gaza strip is contaminated, and electricity blackouts last up to 12 hours every day. 42% of the land in the West Bank now belongs to Israeli settlers. President Trump embraces these illegal settlements, while even the most liberal American politicians advocate for the long-defunct “two-state solution”.
While Palestinians suffer these atrocious conditions, Black Americans fight for their lives against a racist, militarized police force. Over-arrested and over-prosecuted by the criminal justice system, Black Americans are victims of institutionalized racism. Modern day police forces have clear origins to the slavery and Reconstruction eras of American history, when slave patrols and white supremacist law enforcement set out to protect and return property, explicitly the bodies of Black slaves. Military tactics to control and dehumanize people of color persisted long before Israel became a state in 1948. A shared struggle exists between Palestinians and Black Americans mutually oppressed by a deadly exchange of aggressive police power demolishing communities of color.
The Deadly Exchange is a police training program in which U.S. law enforcement agencies, including state and local police departments, participate in exchange programs with the Israeli military and police. The exchange programs commenced after September 11th as Israel marketed itself as the go-to state institution for thought leadership on counter insurgency. The biggest US-Israeli police exchange program is the National Counter Terrorism Seminar, created by the Anti-Defamation League or ADL, a powerful anti-Semitic influence group. The ADL has done notable work to raise awareness of anti-Semitism, specifically campaigning against right-wing, Neo-Fascist movements. However, it is one of the most anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic spheres in existence. Since September 11th, the ADL has increasingly prioritized the “war on terror” and targeted legitimate critics of Israel and wage state propaganda. The ADL openly fraternizes with hyper-conservative, neoliberal institutions of power, and according to the Jewish Voice for Peace, sends ICE and CBP agents on Deadly Exchange missions. The ADL vehemently advocated against immigrant child detainments and family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2019, but remains silent when the Israeli military abducts Palestinian children in the middle of the night. Each year, approximately 500-700 Palestinian children are prosecuted in the Israeli military court system.
Collective research from groups like JVP has identified Nevada law enforcement officials as confirmed participants in Israeli cross-trainings. These law enforcement officials include: Jim Seebock (Captain) and Sasha Ann Larkin (Captain) of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Isaac Henn (Captain) of the Henderson Police Department, and Jason Soto (Chief) of the Reno Police Department. In addition to meeting with representatives of intelligence agencies and visiting prisons, checkpoints, and border crossings, American acolytes learn the logistics of Israeli weapons of war. These weapons, such as drones that drop teargas and security fences with surveillance capabilities and sound canons, are subsequently marketed to militaries and law enforcement agencies around the world.
As evidenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, the militarized police departments on American soil employ many of the same tactics to suppress sustained uprisings within working class communities of color. Palestinian rights and Black Lives Matter activists must come together in a material, non-opportunistic way to raise the tide of revolution in these critical times. The Palestinian Solidarity Committee of the Las Vegas DSA chapter is initiating dialogue with several other groups to form a broad coalition to end the Deadly Exchange. Pressure campaigns in North Carolina and Vermont have been successful in banning such programs in 2018.
Safe, fair, and impartial policing cannot be achieved through secretive training exchanges and conflicting financial interests with the Israeli government. The truth about the Deadly Exchange illuminates the need for Nevada Socialists and Las Vegas community groups to unify around the common goal of defunding and abolishing the police – for the freedom of Palestine and for the preservation of Black lives.