Durham, NC City Council Meeting Regarding Police Policy
and Training in Israel
Carolina becomes first U.S. city to bar police from training in
Israel and any other country with militarized police. The statement presented to the Durham City Council, led by Mayor Schewel,
was approved unanimously at their April 16, 2018 meeting.
Schewel presided over an open forum where everyone was given a
chance to say what they wanted. Mayor Schewel is Jewish.
JVP’s deputy director Ari Wohlfeiler stated in a press release:
Starbucks will never say it publicly, but because of the huge public
outcry about the ADL’s unyielding pro-Israel position,
their refusal to
condemn police violence, their incessant Islamophobia, and the
convergence of all those retrograde positions
in their active
facilitation of US/Israeli police exchange programs, Starbucks had no
choice but to demote them.
[Note, Schewel's comments are directed
primarily to the Jewish Voice for Peace, which is in favor of the
and to Voice for Israel,
which is opposed to the policy statement. He has reasoned criticism
for statements coming from members of both organizations, though,
significantly, it should be noted that the statements he
criticizes are not "official" statements of the organizations.]
paragraph of Mayor Schewel's wrap-up statement
“I am a Jew. I am a Zionist. I believe in
the existence of the state of Israel. I fear for its survival.
But I know the terrible traumas visited on us as a people, we
are now visiting on the others in Gaza and in the West Bank. And
to me not only are our mortal souls in danger because of that,
but I also believe that the survival of the Jewish state is
dependent on doing justice to the Palestinians and I do not
believe that we are. And when I say “we”, I include myself. So,
that is the context in which I view this statement. And I
appreciate everything I have heard tonight."
Articles about the Policy Statement
[The Associated Press article appears
in more than 30 news outlets, including the Times, Post and
Reactions from community organizations several weeks after the statement
was issued Primary
organization is Voice for Israel
of North Carolina This organization is right-wing, pro-Israel and opposed
to the council statement and seeks its rescission.
Voice for Israel
of North Carolina petitions the Durham City Human Relations Commission
The Mainstream Jewish Community Responds to this Injury
Voice4Israel and the Durham Chapel Hill Jewish Federation
promptly contacted the Durham Human Relations Commission (HRC),
"While we recognize our diverse community views, we speak for
many community members who are ashamed of and appalled by the
recent actions of the Durham City Council. On April 16, 2018,
the City Council unanimously endorsed a statement imposing a
total ban on police exchanges with only one country in the
world: the Jewish nation of Israel. There was no evidence to
support the City Council’s actions, only propaganda lies
promoted by a group that has well-documented animus toward the
The City Council’s actions against the Jewish community in
Durham and its surrounding area have created unnecessary
tensions and a deep divide in our community, indefensibly giving
anti-Semites a platform and sending the message that
anti-Semitism will be tolerated, and perhaps even encouraged, in
our community. We need your help in addressing these problems,
to restore respectful relations among the people of Durham, and
promote mutual understanding and regard for all citizens..."
June 5, 2018, Voice4Israel and the Durham Chapel Hill Jewish
Federation presented to the HRC.
Based on the merits of the written materials we offered and our
oral presentation, the HRC decided to create a subcommittee to
research fully the injury the local Jewish community feels it
has suffered. We include here our June 5 presentations to the
HRC and the additional information provided. We will keep the
readership informed as there are new developments.
of Rocamora"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
to the Editor (“Revise or repeal?”, July 1), contends it
does - “This singles out Israel from the rest of the world.”
"Singling Out Israel" by Dr. Robert Gutman 8-12-2018
"We all are grateful that Sam Bryan was able to learn from
his honor that the mayor will not make the same mistake
City Council’s intent,” Aug. 11). Thank you, Mr. Bryan,
Your question was only about the future. But the history is
different: The preamble is part of the
statement. It posits more boycott for Israel than is
found in the next paragraph that prohibits only
"militaristic exchanges" with other countries." (More)
Rebuttal of Gutman
“Criticism of city undeserved” by
Sam Bryan 9-8-2018
Jewish community tensions over the Durham, North Carolina city
council’s April voteto
ban police officers from educational programs in Israel spilled
over last week after police escorted two members of the group
Jewish Voice for Peace out of the Jewish Community Center when
they tried to hand out flyers criticizing local Jewish leaders."
here for JVP handout. You see that it is a thoughtful
attempt to be collegial. Hardly deserving the two young ladies
handing them out being threatened with arrest. Photo at right
taken outside the venue.
heard someone shout "You're not Jewish!" A leader of the JCC/Federation
reported that someone said, "You should die." The Forward
article about the symposium reported that someone called
them Nazis. One of the ladies received an email from someone,
who did not appear to be local, that said, "F**king Kapo piece
for Israel leaders' open letters (posted on their website) to
Council member Johnson and the mayor and council as a whole
regarding a tweet about the killing of Israeli protesters by
"Lullabies and Blood-Libels: An
Open Letter to the Mayor and Durham City Council"
from Dr. Michael Ross - August 18
The Beth El
synagogue initiative: Distribution of book and letter to Durham
churches - a future "conversation"?
letter signed by Daniel Greyber, Rabbi, Beth El Synagogue
and Joel L. Fleishman, Professor of Law and Public Policy, Duke
University dated July 2018 was sent to numerous Durham churches.
The letter references the council statement "... on April 6
banning police partnerships with Israel." The letter did not
explain that the ban was on police training with anyforeigncountry where the police would receive
military-style training. The mayor has made it clear about the
any country. The letter goes on:
"It is clear to say that the vote tore
at the fabric of our community." And "We will follow
up with an invitation to a conversation this fall ... ."
letter to the congregations was accompanied by a book:
Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. A very pro-Israel
narrative with some serious omissions and misrepresentations,
but some candid acknowledgements too about the suffering inflected by
the occupation. Worth reading to get an idea about where the pro
Israel camp stands. Definitely deserves a pro-Palestinian
rebuttal. See below.
"I agree with you that peace can come only if we
succeed in sharing this land and living on it with justice and
fairness for both nations. And I will forever agree with your
sentiment that the “violence, suppression, rage, despair” that
characterizes our relationship must end. But perhaps the problem
with your letters is that they don’t read as if they are seeking
an answer, hoping for that Palestinian neighbor — me — to
respond, but instead seem like lectures, half a conversation
with a partner who is expected to stay quiet and listen."