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Tuesday, 31 October 2017 08:01

Which Side Is the Anti-Defamation League On? Racial Justice or White Supremacy?

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Cops 1031wrp opt(Photo: Andrew Chang / Flickr)Last week, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) hosted their annual conference and exposition in Philadelphia, bringing together more than 10,000 law enforcement officers, major arms suppliers and weapons distributors. The IACP, an organization of police chiefs and other law enforcement officials, has long been responsible for promoting police practices that systematically violate the civil, constitutional and human rights of Black people and other people of color.

At the conference, companies profiting from the Trump administration's intensified targeting and surveillance of communities of color had the opportunity to present their newest tactics and tools. One such company was ELTA North America, the US subsidiary of an Israeli defense manufacturer and one of four companies selected to build aprototype of Trump's wall on the US/Mexico border.

The IACP conference bills itself as offering "gentler, reformist" policing methods through workshops like "Community-Police Relations and Public Trust." But for a long time, groups representing the communities most directly impacted by police violence have said these presentations are a dangerous farce, aimed at promoting the illusion that policing can be made less harmful through better training or by recruiting different individuals, when in fact the system of policing is designed to target and control communities of color. That weekend, there were powerful demonstrations and teach-insorganized byPhilly for REAL Justiceand other Philadelphia-based groups in opposition to the conference, bringing the message that the only way to end police violence is to abolish policing.

The presence of companies like ELTA at the IACP conference is to be expected. After all, much of this conference is designed as an advertisement for military and security technologies. Much more insidious, however, was the participation of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). A self-identified civil rights organization, the ADL's stated purpose is to "protect the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all." Yet the ADL's participation in the IACP conference reveals this to be a hollow claim. By giving money to the IACP, expo-ing and hosting an invitation-only breakfast for IACP attendees, the ADL actively supported police violence and brutality.

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But the ADL's financial and moral support for policing isn't limited to their participation in just one conference. Every year, police officials and other law enforcement agents from across the US participate in ADL-funded exchange programs in Israel. Through these programs, US and Israeli police and military officials exchange their worst discriminatory and repressive police practices, including extrajudicial executions, shoot-to-kill policies, police murders, racial profiling, massive spying and surveillance, deportation and detention, and attacks on human rights defenders.

As a Jewish person, it is unacceptable to me that the ADL, an organization that purports to exist to protect me and my communities and work towards "justice and fair treatment for all," is so deeply enmeshed in something that is so counter to everything for which the ADL says it stands. By funding police exchanges and supporting conferences like the IACP, the ADL has demonstrated that it does not in fact act to secure justice and fair treatment for anyone.

I know that my safety depends on the safety of others. I know that as long as the ADL continues to harm communities of color by supporting policing both in the US and Israel, the ADL is not protecting the Jewish people or anyone else.


Milo Shifra Kesselman Giovanniello is an organizer and educator living in Philadelphia.