Indy Mid-East correspondent tries to tie Israel to US police brutality

Robert Fisk

The Independent’s long-time Mid-East correspondent Robert Fisk has again demonsrated his malign obsession with Israel by attempting to tie Jerusalem to racism and police brutality by some US police officers.

The piece (“Trump thinks the US army has got his back. He’s about to get a surprise – and I know why”, June 4) is ostensibly about Donald Trump’s idea to use the military to control riots inspired by the killing of George Lloyd – and why he thinks military leaders and troops would push back against any such orders.

But, as he often does, Fisk managed to pivot to Israel, here, in the fourth paragraph:

When I talked to American soldiers in Iraq, I always found black troops were politically smart, quicker to see the Middle East from the Iraqis’ point of view – just as I have, almost without exception, found that ethnic-minority Americans I have spoken to infinitely more sympathetic to the Palestinians – and far less worried about offending Israel by talking about injustice.

Here, Fisk shows his motive: to contrast the views of black Americans with that of white Americans, suggesting that the former are, due to their experience with racism, more sympathetic to Palestinians who, it follows in his narrative, are similarly ‘people of colour’.  However, note that Fisk oddly used the term “ethnic minority Americans” – which, in his reading, evidently does not include Jewish Americans, which is consistent with hard left, intersectional ideologies which frame Jews as (racist) ‘whites’.

Fisk continues:

In the National Guard units, a lot of black soldiers I met in Iraq had joined up to help get a college education – not to go off on a presidential Bush blinder to Iraq. I don’t think they’re going to be any keener to assault those who are protesting the death of a black man at the hands of the cops in Minnesota. The cops? Well, we’ll come to that in a moment.

Later in the article, he revisits the topic of cops, and their tactics when confronting those protesting the killing of George Floyd.

I do wonder why so many of the pictures of US police brutality remind me of the Israeli police and their cruel treatment of the Palestinians.

Fisk explains why US police brutality reminds him of Palestine:

But I also remember Amnesty’s intriguing report of four years ago which listed how police officials from Baltimore, Florida, New Jersey, California, Arizona, New York, Georgia – you name it – had all travelled for training in crowd control, use of force and surveillance to… Israel.

Given the list of human rights violations laid against Israel’s police authorities, were these really the right people to be training America’s cops – no doubt some of them on the streets of the US today – in how to treat civilian protests? Have not prosecution cases against security personnel in Israel turned out to be rather odd? The Israeli soldier, for example, who got 18 months imprisonment for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian [terrorist] in 2016, a soldier who was supported after his arrest – Trump-like – by Benjamin Netanyahu, who called for the convicted man to be pardoned. Maybe it’s time for the US to train all its own police personnel instead of relying on a military satellite in the Middle East.

First, the Amnesty Report Fisk links to included absolutely no evidence that police training in Israel, sponsored by mainstream Jewish groups such as Anti-Defamation League, had any connection whatsoever with police violence in the US.   In fact, it’s a smear inspired by Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), the radical anti-Zionist group that partners with terrorists and anti-Semites, which they call Deadly Exchange.  Deadly Exchange dates back to 2017, after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

JVP’s “Deadly Exchange” anti-Israel campaign, CAMERA has revealed, includes the antisemitic narrative that “Jewish power and money [are] fomenting violence and racism” against African-Americans. Those advancing this charge accuse not just Jewish organisations, but American Jews who support these groups, as bearing responsibility for racist brutality against minority communities in the US – including blacks, Muslims and Mexicans.

Here’s the JVP video promoting their libel:

However, the charge is based on a total lie, and, in fact, the proponents of the Deadly Exchange smear have never given one concrete example tying police officers who received training in Israel to any actual incidents of racist-inspired police brutality or killing.

Moreover, ADL’s program is strictly focused on counter-terrorism for senior US police officials. It doesn’t train beat cops on ordinary police work, such as how to make arrests of regular suspects.  Also, Americans receive training from both Israeli and Palestinian counter-terror personnel.  Berlin-based lawyer and doctoral candidate Andrew Bennett  (who tweeted the video shown above) has spent time analysing JVP’s Deadly Exchange, and concluded that it’s based on nothing more than “bare-faced insinuations, misrepresentations, and alleged causation that is so attenuated as to be laughable.”

As the blog Legal Insurrection (LI) argued, “the intellectual rubric is “intersectionality,” by which “anti-Israel activists try to forge links with minority (particularly black) activists by holding out Israel as the key link to oppression around the globe”.  Their strategy, LI added, is to “provoke racial tension against Israel and its supporters….to blame Israel [and, by extension, American Jews] for minority deaths in the U.S.”.

So, what’s motivating Fisk to exploit international anger over the police killing of George Floyd, and racism by some police against American blacks in general, by suggesting Israel is somehow to blame?

Well, first, we should note that we’re often asked if we think that journalists who consistently show bias against Israel are personally antisemitic.  The answer we give is that most aren’t, and that, in lieu of any real evidence, such accusations about the personal motivations of reporters and correspondents should be avoided.

However, with Fisk, it’s a different matter entirely.

Our coverage over many years has demonstrated that Fisk has a malign obsession with Israel – an animosity which has at times crossed the line to antisemitism.  Fisk has suggested that US Jewish groups engage in moral “blackmail” by hurling ‘false’ charges of antisemitism. He’s also evoked the dual loyalty charge: the accusation that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country.  And, in one especially odious piece duly published by Indy editors, he even charged that the Western media “grovels” and are “in thrall” to Israel, which, he charged has “annexed America”.

At the end of the day, it’s simply impossible to avoid the conclusion that Fisk’s hatred of Israel is at least partly motivated by antisemitism.

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