Col. Matthew Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police (c) (Facebook) (Facebook)
Col. Matthew Birmingham

The Vermont State Police and the Northampton Police Department in Massachusetts have canceled their trips to Israel for a training program days before it was scheduled to begin.

By: Jackson Richman/JNS

In a nod to the BDS movement, two American police departments have canceled their respective training programs in Israel.

The Vermont State Police and the Northampton Police Department in Massachusetts have canceled their scheduled trips to the Jewish state for a training program, called Resilience and Counter-Terrorism, days before it was supposed to commence.

Groups such as the Vermont National Lawyers Guild, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Vermonters for Justice in Palestine announced last Thursday that Vermont State Police Director Colonel Matthew Birmingham scrapped the visit in response to a petition against it.

“After a meeting with concerned Pioneer Valley residents, Northampton Mayor Narkewicz withdrew Police Commissioner Kasper from the same trip,” according to a press release from the protesting organizations.

Resilience and Counter-Terrorism was founded in 2002 and consists of a week-long lesson in Israel, where US police officers train with Israeli military, police and secret service. It is funded and administered by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The development marks the first time in the program’s history that police departments voided their trip.

‘Disputable’ Actions

The ADL’s New England chapter condemned the decision made by the regional police departments.

“While we are disappointed in this decision by two police chiefs in the New England-area, we are still immensely proud of our work with law enforcement,” an ADL spokesperson told JNS.

“The purpose of ADL New England’s Leadership Seminar in Israel: Resiliency and Counterterrorism is to provide senior American law-enforcement leaders with education to enhance their effectiveness in preventing and responding to extremist and terrorist threats and violence,” continued the group.

“The seminar enables participants to study how Israel works to thwart terrorism within its framework as a democratic and multicultural nation,” said ADL New England. “Participants meet with senior officials from Israeli and Palestinian law enforcement to learn about the challenges that they face and how they overcome them, and learn as well about community resiliency in the aftermath of terror and tragedy.”

“As a progressive, I find it disputable that officials will even entertain the idea of seizing any collaboration with Israel because of the vile anti-Semitic campaign of the BDS,” former IDF humanitarian officer Hen Mazzig told JNS. “It’s disturbing that they have any success in convincing others to discriminate and withdraw collaboration with Israel. Would they act the same if it was any other country? We all know the answer to this question.”

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