Led by the courage and tenacity of the people of Ferguson, Black and Brown communities across the United States have ignited a new wave of resistance. From massive marches to highway blockades to the shutdowns of mass transit systems, these organizers have been powerfully demanding recognition that #BlackLivesMatter and expressing clearly that these incidents of police murder are not isolated — the targeting of Black lives is systematic. As Jews, we stand in our own history of struggle against persecution and genocide when we stand with Black people as they resist the continued war against their lives and communities
In the wake of the decisions not to indict officers Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo for murdering Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – a Jewish organization purportedly founded to fight racism and anti-Semitism – has revealed itself to be once again standing on the wrong side of history. Not only did the ADL urge “calm” of protestors in the face of righteous anger against the state murder of Black people across the United States, they also stood with the St Louis grand jury: “we respect the grand jury’s integrity and their commitment to meeting the heavy responsibility thrust upon them.” And, adding insult to injury, the ADL praised the NYPD despite the shameful and brutal murder of Eric Garner and the midst of their violent repression of protestors.
The ADL’s decision to firmly support the police and attempt to silence nation-wide collective action is no surprise given their history of collaboration with and support of police violence and surveillance in the US. The ADL directly trains tens of thousands of police and other “security forces” and leads population control training of US Police by Israeli military and police forces. By facilitating the training of US police in Ferguson and other cities, the ADL acts as a driving force in the cross-pollination of the most repressive practices and the increasing militarization of police forces in the US and Israel.
In this context, the ADL attacked Black football player Reggie Bush for courageously affirming the link between Ferguson and Palestine. Consistent with its pattern of suppression, the ADL slammed Reggie Bush for sharing messages of solidarity from Palestinians to the people of Ferguson on social media. The ADL claims that there is no connection between racist violence in Ferguson and across the US, the repression of community resistance to this violence through mass protest, and the racist violence against Palestinians. Yet, the ADL is itself perhaps the most direct link between the racist violence against Black people and Palestinians, having literally trained former St. Louis County Police Chief Timothy Fitch in Israel. Abraham Foxman, Executive Director of the ADL, went so far as to suggest that Reggie Bush does not understand racism in either the United States or Palestine, saying: “He should stick to football.”
We are disgusted that the ADL continues to stick to what it knows best: racism.
Beyond the ADL, Israel’s connection to Ferguson is not strange or exceptional, but is rather, as is laid out in Israel’s Worldwide Role in Repression, part of its broader role in global repression. Just as the US military trains police around the world based on its long history of repressing of Black people and other oppressed communities, Israel takes the technology, military tactics, and racist brutality it has developed through its colonization of Palestine and exports them to the rest of the world.
In the United States alone, over 9,000 US officials have trained with Israeli military and police, including the Atlanta police who killed a 92 year old Black woman, Kathryn Johnson, Oakland police who used tear gas and rubber bullets to repress Occupy Oakland, and the LAPD who are now utilizing the drone technology that Israel pioneered. Thus, when Palestinians declare their solidarity with the people of Ferguson or offer protestors advice on dealing with teargas, or when demonstrators in Missouri carry signs reading “from Ferguson to Palestine occupation is a crime,” it grows out of a deep recognition of the ways in which the struggles against racism and colonialism in the US and the struggle against racist colonization in Palestine are bound together.
As Jews committed to full justice for Black, Brown and Indigenous people in the United States, queer and trans communities, immigrants targeted by policing and repression, and for justice in Palestine, we assert that the ADL does not represent our interests and continually aligns itself with racism in the US and Israel and works to defend them against popular challenges. We reject this racism and proudly stand with Reggie Bush. We will work to expose the ADL, stop the role it plays in police collaboration between the US and Israel, and continue to organize against Police and military violence.
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