Time to speak out
We would like to comment on the guest column, “City Council statement embarrasses Durham,” whose writers are clearly unhappy about a principled proposed statement by the Durham City Council, affirming the city’s stance against police exchanges: “The council opposes international exchanges with any country in which Durham officers receive military-style training since such exchanges do not support the kind of policing we want here in the City of Durham.”
We are local Jews who support human rights. With the Israeli government placing snipers to shoot at civilians and journalists in Gaza, this is an appropriate time for Jews to speak out for human rights, rather than trying to tarnish our elected representatives with spurious and mean-spirited accusations of anti-Semitism. It is not anti-Semitic to refrain from sending the Durham police to be trained by a foreign military.
Kenny Dalsheimer, Nancy Kalow Dektar, Danya Holtzman, Judith Kramer, Deborah Rosenstein and Tom Stern
A courageous step
The Durham City Council took a courageous step last week, introducing a policy statement to prevent police exchanges between the Durham Police Department and the Israeli military. They are now facing bullies who will throw communities of color in the U.S. and in Palestine under the bus to promote their own right-wing agenda. As someone who has worked for racial and social justice in Durham, Palestine, Central America, and beyond since I was a teenager – I am proud to see Durham support this policy.
The Demilitarize! From Durham2Palestine campaign is led by an amazing, interfaith, multiracial coalition of 10 local social justice organizations: AIME (Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East), Black Youth Project 100 - Durham Chapter, Durham for All, Inside Outside Alliance, Jewish Voice for Peace - Triangle Chapter, Muslim American Public Affairs Council, Muslims for Social Justice, SpiritHouse, Students for Justice in Palestine - Duke, and Students for Justice in Palestine – UNC-CH. Together, we have been urging the council to pass this policy for a year now. In the process, over 15 additional community groups have signed on and we’ve gathered well over 1,000 local petition signatures.
I am engaged in this work because I know that my safety and my liberation is bound up with all beings on this planet. As a white, queer, trans, Jewish person, I refuse to settle for visions of safety that harm Black, Muslim, Palestinian, Arab, and Latinx people. It is absolutely necessary for Durham to abolish these police exchanges, as one step towards demilitarization. It is absolutely necessary that we divest from militarization and invest in Black and Brown futures.
A false veneer
The petitioner, Jewish Voice for Peace is a hate group. Israel banned them for their links to terrorists like Rasmea Odeh and their questionable funding. The veneer of Jewishness is a false one. The group doesn’t embody Jewish values or embrace peaceful solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In fact, their propaganda campaign is intent on destroying the valued alliance between Israel and the United States.
As Jews, we are taught to have a moral and spiritual responsibility to repair the world and to benefit society. A group intent on spreading blood libels by blaming Israel for racial violence in Ferguson, immigration issues and border control isn’t helpful or productive for Durham. JVP’s efforts are invested in delegitimizing Israel. Its petition suggests minority communities should unite in blaming Israel rather than working together for the betterment of our city. The negativity of JVP’s insidious strategy undermines the well-being of all Durham’s citizens.
The anti Israel anti-Semitic nature of this group and their motives should be obvious to most. However, there seems to be a blind spot for some in recognizing the simple fact that a terrorist is a terrorist.
While Jewish Voice for Peace proudly extolled the virtues of convicted terrorists, Israel fills its resume with leadership in disaster response, trauma therapy, cyber security and water desalination, and more.
I ask the council to reject the malevolent agenda of JVP in favor of restoring the peace and harmony to a Durham for all its citizens.
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