Opinion

Durham should not boycott Israel or defund the police – Peter Reitzes

“Every time I go to synagogue and take my children to religious school,” writes Peter Reitzes, “I thank the fine women and men of the Durham Police Department who are always present for protecting our community.
“Every time I go to synagogue and take my children to religious school,” writes Peter Reitzes, “I thank the fine women and men of the Durham Police Department who are always present for protecting our community. contributed photo

A petition to have the city of Durham boycott Israel, titled “Demilitarize! From Durham2Palestine,” is being prepared for the mayor and City Council of Durham. This attack has been under preparation for over a year by the deceptively titled group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). It is my understanding that the petitioners have already met with all or most of the City Council and that the council will likely discuss the petition at a work session.

This anti-Jewish petition falsely accuses Israel of training U.S. police forces to “terrorize Black and Brown communities here in the U.S.” The petition asks Durham to boycott Israel – the only Jewish majority country in the world. This proposed boycott, targeting only one country, will fuel the fires of Anti-Zionism and the Anti-Semitism that accompanies it.

On social media, the petitioners deployed a picture calling for “No More Cops!” and “Divest From Police Now!” They even demand “No More Cops at Shul” (Shul is a word Jews often use for synagogue). Being anti-police and anti-Jewish is not good for Durham.

Every time I go to synagogue and take my children to religious school, I thank the fine women and men of the Durham Polie Department who are always present for protecting our community. I am thankful that law enforcement keeps our schools, LGBTQ centers, mosques, churches, synagogues and community safe.

I lived in Brooklyn on 9/11 and watched the Twin Towers fall with my own eyes. Many brave police officers, firefighters and other first responders died that day running into the burning towers to save those inside.

In Carrboro, I have personally seen police officers in my neighborhood save the lives of several teenagers who overdosed. The officers ran like superheroes on that snowy day to administer the needed medicine in time to save the lives of these young adults.

Sometimes the police, like all professionals, make horrible mistakes and sometimes they make decisions that are difficult to understand. Asking, expecting, and even demanding that any group of professionals, including law enforcement, do a good deal more to preserve dignity and safety for all groups is vitally important. But to advocate that the police cease to exist is an irresponsible recipe for chaos and disaster.

Reports are that some or most City Council members have already signed this hateful petition – this is deeply disrespectful to the brave women and men of the Durham police force. It is the City Council that directly sets policy for what the Police Department can and cannot do, and this is carried out by our new Chief of Police CJ Davis for whom there is nothing but admiration in the local press. The City Council should be working respectfully and productively with the Durham police force; not aligning themselves with those who wish to eliminate it.

In recent weeks, a domestic terrorist planted bombs in Austin killing several people and terrorizing the community. The Austin law enforcement community, which had recently trained with Israel, was credited with a successful pursuit of this terrorist. The dreadful Sacramento killing of Stephon Clark occurred where there has never been Israeli exchange. In February, the BBC and others credited Israel for helping to prevent an Australian flight from being blown up. Through circumstances it never wanted, Israel has been forced to become a world leader in preventing terrorism. Israel now shares its expertise in protecting and respecting communities.

The national office of Jewish Voice for Peace is advocating hard to bring its anti-police and anti-Israel agenda to the city of Durham. City Council members are not helping the citizens of Durham by aligning themselves with an outside group that promotes anti-Semitism and seeks to defund the local police.

Peter Reitzes lives in Carrboro.

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