June 17, 2020
In response to the post I put up last week regarding Israel’s “contribution” to the militarizing of the American (and almost every other country’s) police, people have asked: What can Israel be training the police in? American police have always been violent and have been militarized at least since the establishment of SWAT teams in Philadelphia & LA in the mod-’60s. The 1033 Program, enacted by the Clinton Administration in 1997 and supported by Biden, transferred billions of dollars of surplus military equipment to police forces. The police in Oxford, Alabama, have an armored personnel carrier. The Lebanon, Tennessee, police have a tank. 80% of US police departments today have SWAT teams.
So what do they get from Israel? Mainly, they get models for how to restructure their departments in a more militarized way, in accordance with Israel’s concept of a Security State. The “problem” for US police is the wall that the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 erected between domestic law enforcement and the deployment of the military. (Picture 1 shows that separation, although in extreme cases the National Guard & military can be deployed domestically, as Trump tried to do in DC.)
Especially since the War on Drugs of the 1990s (Clinton/Biden) and 9/11, the police have been trying to chip away at this wall. Central to the idea of separation of law enforcement from the military is the notion of the citizen, the civilians of your state that have civil rights. The military’s role is to fight other countries’ citizens, combatants (ideally) in war. But in a Security State like Israel’s, where the control over an entire people, the Palestinians, adds an element of pervasive insecurity, all citizens are soldiers and all the country’s inhabitants, the non-citizen Palestinian majority and Israeli citizens who may support them, are defined as potential enemies. (A common saying is that every Israeli (Jewish) citizen is a soldier on eleven-months leave.)
Thus in Israel, there is no separation of civilian law enforcement and the military. As Picture 2 shows, there are many para-military units that bridge the domestic/military line. That is what SWAT teams aspire to be. And as Michelle Alexander writes in “The New Jim Crow,” Since the WAR on Drugs, the US has effectively removed the protections of citizenship from millions of Americans, who it considers “combatants”: felons, semi-legal immigrants, poor people and opposition groups, mainly African-American & Hispanics, but also “anarchists” and protesters that Trump (for example) has labeled “terrorists.” Without the erosion in civil rights, you see the US with the Patriot Act and policies of domestic “counter-insurgency” — the basis of the 1033 Program – the Israeli Security State mode could not be imported into police forces. (Picture 3 depicts the Security State and its main objective: pacifying the population.)
Read the full article here: https://mondoweiss.net/2020/06/israelizing-the-american-police-palestinianizing-the-american-people