"'Peace, Peace.' They say, when there is no peace.”
A sentiment about false prophets found in the bible, in the books of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, this is the first thing I think of when I see Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) involved in anything.
Born and raised in Goldsboro, N.C., I am finding home in Jerusalem for more than nine years now. Recently when scrolling through the headlines of the Jerusalem Post, I was shocked to read, “North Carolina city bans any training with Israeli police or IDF.” It’s not every day that I see my home state making the news in my new home nation.
The article reported the recent decision of the Durham City Council prohibiting police officers from attending the joint US/Israeli Police training sessions organized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In these sessions Americans serving in law enforcement receive training in counter terrorism and crisis management from the Israeli Police and Israel Defense Forces, world leaders in this area. The training is for the betterment of your communities, to protect citizens and save lives.
JVP sees it differently; however, as an effort to promote a militarized style of policing that discriminates against people of color, even blaming this program for rising levels in police brutality. A claim that is unfounded.
They began a grass roots campaign to end these training sessions through their Deadly Exchange video series, released in 2017. The films go far beyond common center-left takes on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Rather, they are stark anti-Israel propaganda, horrifically loaded with anti-Semitic themes and language, which accuses Israel and the American Jewish Community as being at fault for present day social ills.
JVP represents a very small minority of Jewish opinion. Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry has blacklisted the organization, prohibiting leadership, who are non-Israeli citizens, from entering the Jewish State. Their anti-Israel efforts are demonstrated through their eager relationships with convicted terrorists; one of who, Rasmea Odeh, was invited to be a distinguished speaker at a JVP conference.
Odeh, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was responsible for two terrorist attacks, one of which resulted in the deaths of two Hebrew University students, and injured more than 20 others. She was convicted in 1970, based on her own confession 24 hours after her arrest, as well as that of an accomplice describing the whereabouts of explosives in Odeh’s home.
Odeh was released in a prisoner swap after serving 10 years of a lifetime sentence. She later moved to the United States and became a naturalized citizen based on falsified immigration documents. The courts eventually revoked her citizenship and she was deported to Jordan in 2017.
JVP will tell you that her confession was coerced through torture at the hands of Israeli soldiers, although the 2004 film, "Women of Struggle" further implicates her guilt. In filmed testimonies, her accomplices describe her as the mastermind behind the attacks. Even with evidence stacked against her, JVP freely supported Odeh throughout her court hearings, and turned this unrepentant murderer into a martyr and a hero.
The day after I read the article in the JPost about Durham, I walked past where Odeh placed the bombs that shed innocent blood. I was with two of my three small children, and I knew could not be silent on this issue.
JVP did not promote this policy to better Durham. It is solely born out of a radical left ideology, meant primarily to isolate Israel. It has nothing to do with Durham, NC, yet now the unanimous vote is being used as a victory cry to further their anti-Israel and anti-Semitic goals through out the United States.
The Durham City Council did its constituency a huge injustice by moving forward without interviewing the ADL or other parties to verify facts. What happened is hardly democratic, but rather Mob Rule. Durham, I hope you will be defenders of the truth, and push for true justice on this matter.
Callie Mitchell is a dual US/Israeli citizen currently living in Jerusalem and originally from North Carolina.