Max Blumenthal, writing on al-Akhbar Dec. 2, uncovers some very ominous recent instances of coordination between Israeli and US police forces in the arts of domestic repression. Pointing out that a little-noted Alameda County SWAT exercise dubbed "Urban Shield" occurred just before October's police assault on the Occupy Oakland movement, Blumenthal entitles his piece, "From Occupation to 'Occupy': The Israelification of American Domestic Security." He finds:
Training alongside the American police departments at Urban Shield was the Yamam, an Israeli Border Police unit that claims to specialize in “counter-terror” operations but is better known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders and long record of repression and abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Urban Shield also featured a unit from the military of Bahrain, which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps and arresting wounded demonstrators when they attempted to enter hospitals. While the involvement of Bahraini soldiers in the drills was a novel phenomenon, the presence of quasi-military Israeli police – whose participation in Urban Shield was not reported anywhere in US media – reflected a disturbing but all-too-common feature of the post-9/11 American security landscape.
OK, we're glad Blumenthal has brought this to light. But his perverse title once again commits the fashionable fallacy of reversing the nature of the problem. Yes, US elites view Israel as a laboratory of the security state (along with several other countries around the world, notably Colombia) , and have certainly availed themselves plenty of Israeli hands-on expertise. But how can Blumenthal miss that, overwhelmingly, the expertise-sharing has gone the other way? See how deep the double standard goes:
Having been schooled in Israeli tactics perfected during a 63 year experience of controlling, dispossessing, and occupying an indigenous population, local police forces have adapted them to monitor Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods in US cities.
Has Blumenthal forgotten that the United States has a more than 200-year experience of controlling, dispossessing and occupying an indigenous population? The mind boggles. The US cavalry was clearing the prairies for the master race before David Ben-Gurion was a gleam in his grandmother's eyes. California exterminated the Yahi, dispossessed its Chicanos, massacred its Chinese and expropriated and interned its Japanese before there was any Jewish State. The American police forces of Watts 1965, the COINTELPRO against the Black Panthers, the MOVE massacre, Rodney King and Oscar Grant evidently needed no Israeli instruction.
But supposed "progressives" in America increasingly forget this whole history, and embrace a right-wing nationalist position in which the problem is erosion of our wholesome values by corrupting Jewish (oops, excuse me, I mean "Israeli") influence. You would think that it is Israel that has a policy of maintaing the USA's "Qualitative Military Edge" instead of the other way around (as the State Department proudly boasts). You would think that Reagan's "Star Wars" program was inspired by Israel's "Iron Dome" missile-defense system (unveiled eight years after Reagan's death, VOA informed us last July) instead of the other way around. You would think the bantustans of the West Bank predated the Indian reservations! You would think that the tail was wagging the dog.
This is called scapegoating. There's no other word for it.
But the most perversely ironic passage in Blumenthal's piece is yet to come:
The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program, which “draws on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of…their role as protectors of the Constitution,” the group’s website stated. All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs. According to official FBI recruitment material, “all new special agents must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to see firsthand what can happen when law enforcement fails to protect individuals.”
OK, we certainly do not trust the Anti-Defamation League as a guardian of civil rights! But there is nothing inherently wrong with looking to the Nazi experience as a warning of "what can happen" when security forces become an instrument of racism. The problem is the ADL's undistributed outlook—the fact that Israel is implicitly exempt from the critique. Blumenthal writes as if there were something uniquely sinister about cops learning the history of the Holocaust!
How is Blumenthal's mysterious outrage at this to be seen as anything other than suspicion of Jewish indoctrination in US institutions? Again, his twisted view is inherent in his title. Maybe the greater problem—especially for the Palestinians—is Amerification of Israeli security policy!