Dear Nancy Baron-Baer,
We are writing to you to let you know that we cannot support the ADL's Walk Against Hate, even though we, too, support the fight against hatred. Your support for police exchange programs between the US and Israel directly contradicts your purported fight against hatred. We respectfully ask that you disavow the exchanges and seek to find solutions for community safety in practices that affirm all peoples’ rights, rather than protecting some at the expense of others.
With racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism on the rise, we need organizations to fight for the safety of all people. As a group whose stated mission is to fight for civil rights and against hate, it is inconsistent with your stated values to fund and facilitate police trainings that encourage racial profiling, Islamophobic attitudes, militarized police tactics, and violent suppression of civil dissent. Unfortunately, the ADL’s history is riddled with similar contradictions––from your continued conflation of support for Palestinian rights with anti-semitism, to a history of participation in the surveillance of Muslim activist groups. Live up to your values, ADL: disavow “solutions” that rely on inherently racist and discriminatory police practices.
The “deadly exchanges” that the ADL has initiated and supported over the years are a sharing of worst practices. The Israeli army and police enforce a brutal, illegal military occupation on millions of Palestinians, and use militarized tactics to repress civil dissent within Israel itself. Palestinians are denied both independence and citizenship, their land is expropriated, and they are routinely arrested, imprisoned, or killed for minor or exaggerated offenses.
Meanwhile, U.S. law enforcement officials are similarly abusive and unaccountable. Every year police shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people in this country. Police officers are caught on video with shocking regularity abusing their power, and entire communities of color live in fear of brutalization. At the federal level, ICE agents (who have also participated in U.S.-Israel police exchanges) snatch people off the streets for detention and deportation, tearing immigrant families apart. Officers or agents almost never face serious consequences or prosecution for crimes they commit.
We invite the ADL to join us in a world where we fight hate together: the hate of white supremacy, the hate of racism, the hate of war, the hate of displacement, apartheid, and colonization. Unfortunately, you are currently complicit in these injustices through your embrace of militarized police in both the US and in Israel. We want no part in a false vision of security in which some communities are policed, quite literally, to death, in the name of keeping others safe. We pledge to commit our time and resources to a vision of safety for all, and will reject the misleading “Walk Against Hate” until you join us in finding a solution to truly protect civil rights for everyone.
[add your name]
We are deeply concerned that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) continues to present itself as an institution “opposing hate” by organizing events like the Walk Against Hate, while simultaneously sponsoring trips for U.S. police, ICE agents, FBI agents, and border patrol to Israel for meetings and trainings with Israeli armed forces. These trips, which occur through ADL’s National Counter-terrorism Seminar (NCTS), normalize racist ideologies and policing practices that harm the very communities ADL is purportedly seeking to support. Given the violence that communities of color and other marginalized groups in the U.S. already face at the hands of the police and under the Trump administration, we cannot ignore when communal organizations that claim to be fighting for safety for all are simultaneously leading programs that perpetuate harm.
ADL’s National Counterterrorism Seminar, a program that Philadelphia and Pennsylvania State police chiefs attended in 2010 and 2011 and 2016, falls into a category of “counter-terrorism programs” that focus exclusively on “Muslims” and “Arabs” as a grave threat to the U.S., ignoring the fact that violent attacks from Muslims and Arabs make up a small percentage of overall violent attacks in the United States. This feeds racist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric. While there is little information on the positive impact of these programs on community safety, their profoundly harmful impacts on Muslims and different communities of color have been extremely well documented.
In addition to the reinforcement of Islamophobic narratives, the trips contribute to the normalization of the Israel Defense Force’s daily brutality against the Palestinians. These are abuses that currently take the form of intentional killing of unarmed Palestinian protesters along the border of the Gaza Strip. Any kind of program that valorizes an armed force that is responsible for war crimes and human rights abuses as a “model” for U.S. police demonstrates ADL’s complicity in and tacit support for those abuses.
By glorifying the practices of Israel’s armed forces, including racial profiling, extrajudicial killings, and violent suppression of grassroots protests, and feeding Islamophobic narratives on who commits violence, ADL’s NCTS program does not create safety; it perpetuates harm against communities that are already bearing the brunt of racialized state violence.
At a time when all of our communities are under attack, we believe there is too much at stake through the ongoing sponsorship of these exchanges to continue with “business as usual” with ADL. Join us in our fight to hold ADL accountable: pledge to not participate in the Walk Against Hate until the ADL stops funding and supporting police exchanges.
The fight for a world without hate means a world without racist policing or Islamophobia. Without full commitment to challenging those systems and structures, we cannot achieve a hate-free world that guarantees true safety for all.
Jewish Voice for Peace Philadelphia