A poster found outside the Hillel building at Tufts University, in Medford, Massachusetts. (Naftali Brawer) Naftali Brawer
SJP Tufts

SJP-backed student referendum at Tufts pushes anti-Semitic libel that Israel trains U.S. police to harm minorities.

By Benjamin Kerstein, The Algemeiner

A notorious anti-Israel group is pushing a student referendum at Tufts University that promotes the discredited libel that the Jewish state trains U.S. police forces to harm minorities.

The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter at the Massachusetts institution got the initiative — which calls for the “demilitarization” of the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) — on the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate special election ballot that will be sent out this week.

Several unnamed members of SJP told The Tufts Daily that the referendum was specifically related to alleged Israeli training of the TUPD.

“Our referendum is seeking to promote the safety of students (especially [people of color] students) by demanding the Tufts administration prohibit TUPD officers from attending military-led and/or similar international trips in the future, refine the vetting process to prevent prior attendees from being hired, and apologize for sending the former Tufts police chief to a militarized training trip,” they commented.

The only Tufts police official who has been on a training program in Israel is Kevin Maguire, who was in charge of TUPD and attended a counter-terrorism seminar in 2017.

Patrick Collins — Tufts’ executive director of media relations — refuted SJP’s claims, saying, “The Anti-Defamation League-sponsored trip to Israel — which over 200 different federal, state and local agencies from across the US have participated in over the years — was not a military training program, nor was it intended to serve as an endorsement of any particular policy or policing strategy.”

In an op-ed published in the Daily on Monday, SJP explicitly connected the referendum to a larger conspiracy theory, saying, “Since 2004, hundreds of American law enforcement officials have gone on these exchange trips. … Under the guise of ‘counter-terrorism,’ participants have learned Israeli military tactics for intelligence gathering, border security and forceful suppression of protest.”

“This is the Deadly Exchange, the mutual advancement of the United States’ and Israel’s discriminatory and repressive policing,” the group asserted.

SJP offered no evidence to back up its charges.

The “Deadly Exchange” conspiracy theory, which is widely viewed as an antisemitic blood libel, has been entirely discredited, though anti-Israel groups continue to exploit and disseminate its baseless claims.

In an interview with The Algemeiner in June, Steven L. Pomerantz — a former assistant FBI director and the head of the Law Enforcement Exchange Program at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), said, “Exchange programs began as a direct result of 9/11 at the specific request of senior law enforcement officers. It focused on counter-terrorism responsibilities of law enforcement, both prevention and response, and was aimed at only senior law enforcement officials.”

Contrary to the allegations made against such programs, Pomerantz noted that they included “no hands-on training and no tactical training.”

They instead concentrate on “terrorism intelligence collection, ideology and methodology of terrorist organizations, coordinated response to terrorist incidents and cooperation between private security and law enforcement, etc.,” he added.

Ironically, Pomerantz pointed out, far from promoting police violence, “more recent programs have included subjects such as improving relations between law enforcement agencies and minority communities, and recruiting in minority communities.”

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