NEW YORK (JTA) — A pro-Palestinian student group at New York University that blamed Israel for recent police shootings of black men is now scaling back, somewhat, on the accusations it made on Facebook.
In the original Facebook post from July 7, Students for Justice in Palestine at NYU held Israel accountable for the black people “lynched” by police forces in the United States because “many U.S. police departments train with the Israel Defense Forces.”
“The same forces behind the genocide of black people in America are behind the genocide of Palestinians,” the post said.
The post attracted plenty of attention, but not many likes. The majority of the more than 600 comments expressed disgust, amusement and incredulity at the group’s claims.
The NYU Students for Justice in Palestine responded to the backlash by denying it had directly implicated Israel in the killings of black Americans but reiterated that the IDF bears culpability for oppressive practices aimed at African-Americans.
“Our statement regarding the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — and the rampant murders of Black Americans by the police — was not a suggestion that their deaths are part of an Israeli conspiracy. Israel did not literally kill either of these men: that much is obvious,” the SPJ chapter said in its follow-up post on July 9.
The latter post reiterated the assertion that the IDF training of some American police officers is behind a brutal ethos.
“The IDF assists the NYPD and other American police departments in their oppression and murder of black people,” the second post said. “These groups share a common logic that manifests in several types of oppression, white supremacist racism among them.”
The Anti-Defamation League sponsors trips by U.S. law enforcement officers to Israel, where they learn how to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks and how Israel protects airports, shopping malls and public events. The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs has run a similar program.
The accusation among pro-Palestinian sympathizers that Israel’s counterterrorism training of American officers contributes to police brutality is not new.
Pro-Palestinian activist Alice Rothschild recently wrote an opinion piece for the anti-Zionist website Mondoweiss called “Modern day lynchings: an international view” in which she asserted that such law enforcement exchange programs demonstrate that “parallels between white racism and Jewish supremacy flourish here and abroad.” In 2015 black student groups at Yale, Columbia and the University of California, Berkeley, signed on to a statement calling for solidarity between blacks and Palestinians that denounced “police and soldiers from the two countries [who] train side-by-side.”
On July 8, the Zionist Organization of America called on NYU President Andrew Hamilton to condemn the student group and demand it apologize for “nefariously using Israel as the scapegoat for problems of racism in this country – problems which Israel could not possibly have anything to do with.”