Israeli forces trained cops in ‘restraint techniques’ at Minneapolis conference
A police officer points a hand cannon at protesters who have been detained pending arrest on South Washington Street, May 31, 2020, in Minneapolis. | John Minchillo / AP

Officers from the U.S. police force responsible for the killing of George Floyd received training in restraint techniques and anti-terror tactics from Israeli law enforcement officers. Floyd’s death in custody on Memorial Day, the latest in a succession of police killings of African Americans, has sparked continuing protests in U.S. cities.

At least 100 Minnesota police officers attended a 2012 conference hosted by Israel’s Chicago consulate, the second time such an event had been held. There, they learned the violent techniques used by Israeli forces as they terrorize the occupied Palestinian territories under the guise of security operations. The so-called counterterrorism training conference in Minneapolis was jointly hosted by the FBI.

Israeli deputy consul Shahar Arieli claimed that the half-day session brought “top-notch professionals from the Israeli police” to share knowledge with their U.S. counterparts. It is unclear whether any of the officers involved in the incident in which Floyd was killed attended the conference.

But in a chilling testimony, a Palestinian rights activist said that when she saw the image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, she was reminded of the Israeli forces’ policing of the occupied territories.

Neta Golan, co-founder of International Solidarity Movement (ISM), said: “When I saw the picture of killer cop Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd by leaning in on his neck with his knee as he cried for help and other cops watched, I remembered noticing when many Israeli soldiers began using this technique of leaning in on our chest and necks when we were protesting in the West Bank sometime in 2006.

“They started twisting and breaking fingers in a particular way around the same time. It was clear they had undergone training for this. They continue to use these tactics—two of my friends have had their necks broken but luckily survived—and it is clear that they [Israel] share these methods when they train police forces abroad in ‘crowd control’ in the U.S. and other countries including Sudan and Brazil.”

The training of U.S. police officials by Israeli forces is widespread.

Even Amnesty International was compelled to report that hundreds of police from Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Washington state, and Washington, D.C., had been flown to Israel for training.

Thousands more have been trained by Israeli forces who have come to the U.S. to host similar events to the one held in Minneapolis. According to the somewhat selective rights organization, many of these trips are taxpayer-funded, while others are privately funded.

Since 2002, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs have paid for police chiefs, assistant chiefs, and captains to train in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), it said.

“These trainings put Baltimore police and other U.S. law enforcement employees in the hands of military, security, and police systems that have racked up documented human rights violations for years.” Amnesty International, other human rights organizations and even the U.S. Department of State have cited Israeli police for carrying out extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, using ill treatment and torture (even against children), suppression of freedom of expression/association including through government surveillance, and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.”

Nasim Ahmed, writing for the Middle East Monitor, commented: “The inherent racism of Israeli society, in which every Palestinian is viewed as a potential threat to Israel’s Jewish citizens, is replicated by white law enforcement officers in their views about Black Americans, Muslims, and other minority groups. In such a mindset, they are turned from citizens with civil and other rights into threats from which white Americans must be protected at any cost… If Black lives really do matter in 21st century America, then the ‘deadly exchange programs’ with Israel should be brought to an end without delay.”

The Minneapolis Police Department was contacted for comment.

This article originally appeared in Morning Star, Britain’s socialist daily newspaper. Barbara Russum of People’s World contributed to the version that appears here.


Steve Sweeney
Steve Sweeney

Steve Sweeney writes for Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. He is also a People's Assembly National Committee member, patron of the Peace in Kurdistan campaign, and a proud trade unionist. Steve Sweeney escribe para Morning Star, el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña. También es miembro del Comité Nacional de la Asamblea Popular, patrocinador de la campaña Paz en Kurdistán y un orgulloso sindicalista.