Israel-trained police “occupy” Missouri after killing of black youth

The killing of Michael Brown in Missouri last weekend prompted this Chicago protest against police violence. (Mikasi)

Since the killing of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police in Missouri last weekend, the people of Ferguson have been subjected to a military-style crackdown by a squadron of local police departments dressed like combat soldiers. This has prompted residents to liken the conditions on the ground in Ferguson to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. 

And who can blame them? 

The dystopian scenes of paramilitary units in camouflage rampaging through the streets of Ferguson, pointing assault rifles at unarmed residents and launching tear gas into people’s front yards from behind armored personnel carriers (APCs), could easily be mistaken for a Tuesday afternoon in the occupied West Bank. 

And it’s no coincidence. 

At least two of the four law enforcement agencies that were deployed in Ferguson up until Thursday evening — the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department — received training from Israeli security forces in recent years. 

Brute force

It all started when a yet to be named Ferguson police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. According to witnesses, Brown was attempting to surrender with his hands up when a Ferguson police officer emptied his clip into Brown’s body, shooting the teen up to ten times. 

For hours police left Brown’s lifeless body sprawled in the street uncovered as a growing number of residents gathered nearby, demanding answers from authorities. Police responded by deploying K-9 units and riot squads to crush the crowd, predictably inciting a riot, which police used to justify more brute force. 

But the people of Ferguson refuse to submit and have mobilized every single day to demand justice for Brown and an end to the racist, undemocratic regime they live under. 

Hands up, don’t shoot” has become their rallying cry, a symbol of Brown in his last moments and what it means to be black in America, where every 28 hours an African-American is killed by a self-styled vigilante, security guard or police officer. 

Still, police did not relent, prompting one Ferguson protester to shout at a row of military-style tactical vehicles, “You gonna shoot us? Is this the Gaza Strip?” 

“Will we as a people rise up like the people of Gaza? Will our community be bombed like last night with tear gas? That was a terrorist attack,” remarked another Ferguson protester to The Daily Beast.

Meanwhile, journalists were manhandled and detained. Police were caught on video deliberately firing tear gas at an Al Jazeera America film crew as they were setting up their equipment.

Even elected officials weren’t spared. Missouri state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal was tear gassed and St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who had been documenting the unfolding police repression in Ferguson on social media since just after Brown’s murder, was arrested.

As the situation spiraled further out of control, Palestinians began tweeting advice on dealing with tear gas to the people of Ferguson. 

Cops become soldiers

Domestic policing in the US has a long and sordid history rooted in the violent control and subjugation of communities of color, so the police violence directed at the predominantly black residents of Ferguson is nothing new. 

But the widespread militarization on display in Ferguson is part of a more recent trend that began three decades ago with the introduction of the disastrous “war on drugs” and dramatically escalated with the “war on terror” — leading directly to the counterinsurgency-like tactics deployed against the people of Ferguson by civilian police officers who more closely resemble combat soldiers in Afghanistan than domestic cops.

This cop-to-soldier transformation has been facilitated by the US government through mechanisms like the Pentagon’s 1033 or military surplus program, which funnels excess military gear to law enforcement agencies across the country. The program’s motto: ”From warfighter to crimefighter.”

In 2013 alone, the program showered US police departments with nearly $450 million worth of military equipment.  

St. Louis County law enforcement agencies, including the Ferguson Police Department, participate in this program and have received military-grade rifles, pistols and night vision equipment in recent years, though it’s unclear if the equipment is being used in Ferguson now. 

As The New York Times reported in June, the scaling down of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan means “former tools of combat — M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more — are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice.” 

“During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft,” the newspaper added. 

Ferguson police also receive money from the Department of Homeland Security as part of a grant program that has doled out billions to US law enforcement agencies to purchase military-style equipment, like the APCs charging through the streets of Ferguson. 

In the last five years alone, Missouri has received nearly $70 million in DHS money for law enforcement related programs.

Emulating apartheid

While there is a wealth of scholarship on police militarization in the US, there has been little to no examination of the ways Israel’s security apparatus facilitates it. 

Decades of testing and perfecting methods of domination and control on a captive and disenfranchised Palestinian population has given rise to a booming “homeland security industry” in Israel that refashions occupation-style repression for use on marginalized populations in other parts of the world, including St. Louis.

Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement, a phenomenon that journalist Max Blumenthal dubbed “the Israelification of America’s security apparatus.” Israeli forces and US police departments are so entrenched that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has opened a branch in Tel Aviv.

In 2011, then St. Louis County Police Department chief Timothy Fitch attended the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) National Counter-Terrorism Seminar, an annual week-long Israeli training camp where US law enforcement executives “study first hand Israel’s tactics and strategies” directly from “senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from Israel’s intelligence and security services, and the Israel Defense Forces,” according to the ADL’s website.

Until Thursday night, the St. Louis County Police Department appeared to be the largest most militarized and brutish force operating in Ferguson. “St. Louis County Police” was scrawled across the side of most of the tactical unit vehicles and appeared on the combat-style uniforms of officers aiming assault rifles at peaceful protesters.

The ADL boasts of sending more than 175 senior US law enforcement officials from 100 different agencies to the seminar since 2004, which are “taking the lessons they learned in Israel back to the United States.”

The ADL is just one of several pro-Israel groups forging close ties between US cops and Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus.

Another is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a neoconservative think tank that claims to have hosted some 9,500 law enforcement officials in its Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP) since 2004. 

LEEP “takes delegations of senior law enforcement executives to Israel to study methods and observe techniques used in preventing and reacting to acts of terrorism” and “sponsors conferences within the United States, bringing Israeli experts before much larger groups of law enforcement leaders,” according to JINSA’s brochure.

Former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department police chief Joseph Mokwa is listed as having traveled to Israel as part of a LEEP conference in February 2008

Following nationwide outrage and embarrassment, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon pulled St. Louis County Police forces out of Ferguson and placed the Missouri Highway Patrol in charge of policing demonstrators. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department voluntarily removed its officers from Ferguson. 

As a result, Ferguson no longer looks like occupied territory, though the underlying issue, Michael Brown’s murder, has yet to be addressed.

Meanwhile, the scope of Israel’s influence on US law enforcement remains virtually ignored by the media despite the troubling implications of emulating an apartheid regime actively engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

The culture of racism and impunity that has long plagued American policing is deadly enough as it is. Adding Israeli-style repression to an already dangerous mix guarantees disaster.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this piece referred to the St. Louis Police Department. It has since been updated to identify it as the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.




Author states that St. Louis (City) Police Dept was deployed in Ferguson. This seems incorrect given the St. Louis City Police Chief, Sam Dotson, stated this: "St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said in an interview this afternoon (August 14) that he does not support the county police tactics in Ferguson, and has not sent officers to help them, aside from four officers to direct traffic." By Jeremy Kohler 314-340-8337

Rania Khalek's picture

Responding to a question at a press conference yesterday about who is in charge of tear gas deployment, Ferguson police chief said, “Sometimes it’s highway patrol, St. Louis County, us, St. Louis City.” So it appears that St. Louis (City) Police were deployed in some capacity in Ferguson. 


Why do you provide misinformation to this article rather than deal with the substance of the article, which is about further Zionists obstruction of American Democracy ? Your reach impugns an attack on the credibility of the author/substance of the article, which is the tactics of Zionist war-crimes against the imprisoned people of Palestine being marketed to U.S. police forces for use against our non-violent attempts to make our government representative accountable.

View the below source for support of the statement by the author that city police were deployed:

The following quote from the above source:
The St. Louis Police Officers Association on Friday blasted city Police Chief Sam Dotson's comments to the Post-Dispatch saying he did not support St. Louis County Police's Department's tactics in Ferguson. Dotson said he stopped sending officers to help county police after Monday night he didn't want to "put officers in situations that I would not do myself."


Why would the United States allow Israel, of all people, to train out domestic police forces? Who is responsible for that? Is there a formal agreement that promotes this absurdity? Do we pay the Israeli military to train our local police? Have we lost our everblooming minds?


I have the same quistions.
Is there anybody out there who have the documentation on it?
Thou I think I have read something about in the past.


There is a disorder in the consciousness of America which sees Israel's application of violence over the years as a product of genius rather than as a chronic failure to get along with neighbors.

An interesting tidbit is that the Israeli police general who is in charge of the program has a son who is a member of Anarchists Against the Wall. Shlomo Efrati is the dad and Eran Efrati is the son blowing the whistle on him.


You better start there and check out the meaning behind the Balfour Declaration. Israel owned the USA before they even existed.


Even the backbone of phone communications and internet is owned by an Israeli company. It even made news when the Israeli company was caught giving the cell phone information of secret service members to the Israeli Mafia.

Zionism is the elephant in the middle of the room that most people do not want to talk about for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic.

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."


This is an important and timely report. The militarization of American policing should be of concern to everyone. For more than a century- arguably, since the Civil War- the United States has been continuously at war. This has produced a flourishing and deadly military culture which we're seeing at toxic levels in the streets of American cities and towns. The forging of close ties between stateside racist police forces and the Israeli occupation of Palestine offers a perfect symbiosis of repression.

People sometimes wonder why key institutions in the United States are so committed to the Zionist cause. The Israel-based police training exposed in this article is one factor. American cops, never sympathetic to the problems of black and brown neighborhoods, now look on residents of these areas very much as the IDF regard Palestinians under occupation. The increasing brutality and the storming show of military weaponry put on by today's police have their roots not just in US history, but in the racial politics of Israel.

And we ought to remember, police forces represent the State in a direct form. Where you have this kind of intimidation and mechanized violence, you have a government behind it, funding, teaching and rewarding such misrule. If there's one feature of policing germane to this discussion, it's that police departments are very conservative institutions. They seldom innovate, but take their direction from the nature of the state they serve. And that's an extremely violent military state with no regard for the rights of common people.


Don't believe everything mainstream media tells you...Hint: who owns mainstream media...Plus US gives Israel 2 billion a year..


None of this is surprising. Israel was instrumental in training soldiers, selling weapons, and sending military personnel to both Namibia and South Africa to maintain the racist apartheid regimes there. What they are doing by training officers here is the same. The majority of all officers in the US are white. Those not white are hired to be Uncle Toms they can depend on. We have a racist , class bias apartheid regime here. As the economy worsens, already 38% of the working age population doesn't work, the 1% will need repressive measures to maintain absolute power. Hence the reason for hiring the most brutal racist army in the world to train our officers.


I thought we are able to train our police officers why in the world some one train our police. If we don't stop it here, before we know it we become the police state and you will find check points in every corner where at the black neighborhood. No wonder why the young boy was killed, the police officers are trained in Isreal we have to open our eyes before it's too late


Since when did an 18 year old man become a "young boy?" This sentiment biased concept seems to permeate even news media. Brown was a young man.


"...the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Police Department — received training from Israeli security forces in recent years."

Does anybody have a source on this?


Just google it. The information is all over the web. The NYC police also received training from the Israelis. That came out during the Occupy police reactions.


Dutch nonagenarian recently returned Righteous Among the Nations medal after six relatives killed in Gaza. Henk Zanoli, who helped save a Jewish child from deportation to concentration camps, said holding on to the medal would be an 'insult to the family.' He said, "For me to hold on to the honor granted by the State of Israel, under these circumstances, will be both an insult to the memory of my courageous mother who risked her life and that of her children fighting against suppression and for the preservation of human life." It doesn’t make you anti-Semitic, racist or a self-hating Jew to disagree with what Israel is doing, just a person with compassion, a good heart and a conscience.


That article is a first page piece in the NY Times. I was very glad to see this gentleman speak out against the actions of Israel.


As far as I could tell, Rania Khalek only showed that two former STL city/county police chiefs had attended week-long training seminars in Israel. One was the former chief of the city of St Louis police department, which had minimal involvement in the Ferguson crackdown (see first comment). Hence, the connection between the Ferguson crackdown and Israel is tenuous at best.

Furthermore, Khalek cited a Max Blumenthal story that heavily relied on statements Blumenthal attributed to security expert Karen Greenberg, who affirmed that Blumenthal had mischaracterized her remarks:


You can minimize and lie but you cannot disguise the truth. It's a fact that many American police forces receive "free" trips and training in "anti-terrorism tactics" in Israel, paid for, of course, by the money the American taxpayer is forced to give to Israel. Google it. This is no place for hasbara propaganda.


The alakhbar article and ADL page below document trips to Israel for training of US police leaders. ADL page for the program describes quotes US police leaders recounting specific techniques taught in the programs. When researching Israel-US correspondence in police training, the motherjones article is a main landmark. But the discredited Greenberg quote you mentioned speaks not to anti-terrorism tactics relevant to Ferguson and the West Bank but rather to torture techniques, and their origin, in the US occupation of Iraq.


We ain't see nothing yet, wait for worse since our government support this most brutal army of Israel and they occupy our senate and congress as their territory.
And they are training our police force, just asked people who went israel how they police and army humiliate people there, where is our dignity folks.
Our president say they don't have money for you poor American but they have
approved 275 millions our tax dollars free to arm the most brutal army of Israel,
And people are suffering here in America. Wake up America.


In addition to the training of US police in brutal tactics, the politicians especially the neocon Republicans have been influenced to build separation walls between US/Mecico border not unlike the Jerusalem/West Bank wall.

Rania Khalek

Rania Khalek's picture

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass and marginalized.