By Richard Walker
The arrest technique of using knee pressure on a suspect’s neck, seen specifically in the arrest and death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, is nothing new in policing. It is one of many tactics the Israeli military has been teaching our police forces.
The technique has the potential to be lethal because excess pressure on the neck can damage the small bones and arteries in that part of the body which carry oxygen and blood to the brain. It also cuts off oxygen when the knee is applied to the carotid artery. Online there are many photos of Israeli soldiers using this submission technique against young and old, male and female Palestinians.
Police officers across this nation are entitled to ask why they have never been properly instructed about the dangers of the technique and its origins. One answer is that a lot of police chiefs have been happy to see it deployed, having visited Israel and learned that it is an effective arrest method frequently used in the West Bank.
The role of Israel in training our police chiefs and officers how to use Israeli riot control methods is one of those issues that has attracted little attention from the mainstream media. For example, in 2018, when three police forces in Vermont, Massachusetts, and North Carolina suddenly ended police trips to Israel for training sessions, the matter went unnoticed elsewhere. The decisions by those forces followed pressure from local groups that pointed out how the Israeli military’s policing methods crossed many human rights lines and were not an example to be followed in the United States.
Minnesota, now at the center of the news following the death of Floyd, sent over 100 of its police officers for training to Israel in 2012. There are no figures available for the numbers of policemen from all states that were trained in Israel since that period, though it is known that the training has included personnel from ICE, the FBI, and the U.S. Border Patrol.
One of the problems of relying on Israeli riot-control and crowd-control tactics is that Israel links policing with counterterrorism. In their riot-control efforts, they often use live fire and have killed many teenagers, women, and children. Their systemic abuse of Palestinian civilians has been well documented. Senior figures in Israeli intelligence agencies, particularly the Shin Bet, like to link ordinary crime and terror as though they were the same phenomenon. Israel’s philosophy is the total domination of crowd protests with the use of overwhelming force. It is language with which we are now familiar here in the States. Israel exports every security technique it uses against the Palestinians.
During the “Troubles in Ireland” (the 30-year conflict between Irish Catholic nationalists and British Protestants, the British army shared its knowledge with police forces worldwide because its troops perfected the use of rubber bullets, which were larger than the ones used recently in Washington and other cities. The British rubber bullets had a lethality that eventually led to their discontinued use. The British army also invented the deployment of snatch squads, a technique the Israelis subsequently adopted. These are squads of heavily built soldiers armed with batons who are sent into riot situations to seize rioters identified as ringleaders.
But it is Israel’s military that is the go-to force for U.S. police chiefs. In 2017, over 52 senior police officers visited Israel for training as part of what had been an annual Police Unity Tour, starting in 1997. Few people know that since 2012, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has had its own facility within the Israeli police coastal headquarters at Kfar Saba.
Many of the police trips have involved training conferences with the leaders and units of the Yasam, a highly controversial Israeli elite police force known for its mistreatment of Palestinians. Little mention has been made of the fact that the training of U.S. security personnel was financed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). It is a strange arrangement since the ADL is not a police body and should have no role in directing the training of American police. The ADL argues, however, that it is merely bringing together friendly forces with a common goal of dealing with social issues. It has not defined the common goal or how the Palestinian situation compares to policing objectives in U.S. cities. The arrangement has enabled Israeli security corporations to market riot-control weapons to police forces and other security agencies in the U.S., but according to “RevealNews,” the multi-platform news arm of The Center for Investigative Reporting based in San Francisco, tear gas grenades, triple-chaser gas canisters, and stun grenades made by the American companies Combined Systems, Inc. and Defense Technology Corp. have been used in Israel and in recent street events in America.
For those police officers charged with killing George Floyd, the question of who approved the technique they used to arrest and subdue him should be an easy one to answer. Police chiefs have long adopted and approved of the technique, having imported it from Israel, a fact ignored in recent cable media coverage of events.
Richard Walker is the nom de plume of a former New York mainstream news producer who grew tired of seeing his articles censored by his bosses.