Letters to the Editor

No, Durham City Council’s policing statement did not single Israel out

Reader Sam Bryan wanted to know whether the Durham City Council intended to single Israel out in a statement condemning military-style police training. So he asked Mayor Steve Schewel (center).
Reader Sam Bryan wanted to know whether the Durham City Council intended to single Israel out in a statement condemning military-style police training. So he asked Mayor Steve Schewel (center). City of Durham

The City Council’s intent

Did the policy statement on international police exchanges, issued by the Durham City Council on April 16, single out Israel, or was that its intent?

Mr. Rocamora, in his letter (“Revise or repeal?”, July 1), contends it does - “This singles out Israel from the rest of the world.” He supports this contention by relating a discussion he had with Mayor Schewel in which he says: “When I recently met with Mayor Steve Schewel, he confirmed that my understanding is correct. I asked him if the intent was to prevent police exchanges with only Israel and to prevent military-style training with all foreign countries. While I was hoping the answer would be no, Mayor Schewel said ‘yes.’”

I was puzzled when I read this since, although the statement mentions Israel in a preamble paragraph providing historical context, the body of the official statement refers to “any country.” The text does not single out Israel.

But could the “intent” that Mr. Rocamora expresses concern about be to do so? That question is best answered by Mayor Schewel. I e-mailed him with a question that is phrased differently from Mr. Rocamora’s question, but that gets precisely at the important question of what does the statement mean in practice, i.e. what is the future intent?

My question: “If you and the City Council sit down in the future to consider international exchanges for Durham officers, and you consider which countries might be candidates for training, will Israel be considered in any way differently than any other country in which Durham officers might receive military-style training?” Mayor Schewel called me and read my question back and said that the answer is “No.”

This issue has attracted widespread and protracted discussion. I hope the mayor’s answer to my question will help put the discussions on a factual footing. No, Israel is not being singled out by the statement, nor by the intent of the council.

To be sure, during the council session much was said regarding Israeli issues by the 50 or so citizens who spoke and by council members and the mayor. Those discussions will, and should, continue. May mutual respect and objectivity prevail.

Sam Bryan

Chapel Hill

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Restore net neutrality

If Democrats want a unifying, winning issue in the midterms and 2020, they can bring their party and the bulk of the country together via net neutrality.

Despite 82 percent support among Republican voters and 90 percent support by registered Democrats (per the University of Maryland’s latest survey), GOP officials in Washington willfully went ahead and let open Internet protections die.

In the two months since those protections expired, some major ISPs have insidiously capitalized. They are throttling content they perceive as competition for their subsidiaries and jeopardizing small businesses who need a level online playing field to get rewarded for their good, honest work.

Unless the powers that be see the light and take action, the adverse effects of a post-net neutrality world will fully manifest themselves in the economy, job market and daily lives of Americans who were ostensibly going to be “no longer forgotten.” Adding insult to injury, the repeal will have also robbed those hardest hit of a real chance to make their voices heard.

Washington can redeem itself by passing a measure of disapproval through the Congressional Review Act. The Senate did its part, with three Republicans (unfortunately not including Richard Burr or Thom Tillis) crossing party lines toward a 52-47 vote.

Now it’s the House’s move. Whether a candidate pledges to vote for the CRA and restore net neutrality, thus endorsing the bipartisan will of the people and promoting a productive 21st century existence for all, must sway their November prospects.

Al Daniel