Durham Israel

A view of University Tower, the tallest building in Durham, N.C., located outside of the downtown area.

Durham, North Carolina, became the first U.S. city to ban its police from engaging in “military-style training” with police abroad in an effort to block exchanges with Israel.

In a unanimous 6-0 vote earlier this week, the city council “opposes international exchanges with any country in which Durham officers receive military-style training since such exchanges do not support the kind of policing we want here in the City of Durham,” said in a statement.

The resolution was adopted after a coalition of groups, dubbed “Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine Coalition,” which includes the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace that supports the BDS movement, in addition to other Muslim, pro-Palestinian and civil-rights groups, urged its passage in order to prevent any partnership the city’s law enforcement might enter into with Israel’s military or police.

“The Israeli Defense Forces and the Israel Police have a long history of violence and harm against Palestinian people and Jews of Color. They persist in using tactics of extrajudicial killing, excessive force, racial profiling, and repression of social justice movements,” a petition by the group said. “These tactics further militarize U.S. police forces that train in Israel, and this training helps the police terrorize Black and Brown communities here in the U.S.”

A Durham police spokesman said that their department has not engaged in any exchanges with Israel and does not have any plans to do so.

However, former Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez did spend a week in Israel to undergo training, which he said focused on leadership and preventing terrorism.

“None of the training had anything to do with militarization,” said Lopez in a news report by Durham’s WRAL-TV. “It was about leadership, it was learning about terrorism, and then learning about how to interact with people who are involved in mass casualty situations and how to manage mass casualty situations.”

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