[News] Georgia-based program sent thousands of American cops to Israel for counter-terrorism training

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jan 6 17:31:46 EST 2016

    Inside GILEE, the US-Israel law enforcement training program seeking
    to redefine terrorism

Anna Simonton <http://mondoweiss.net/author/anna-simonton> on January 5, 

The recent wave of heightened Islamophobia in the U.S. is not limited to 
the violent rhetoric 
and cruel policies 
of conservative politicians; it’s also being drummed into police through 
a Georgia-based program that has sent thousands of American law 
enforcement officials to Israel for counter-terrorism training.

In an unusually candid discussion about the Georgia International Law 
Enforcement Exchange <http://www2.gsu.edu/%7Ecrirxf/gilee.htm> (GILEE), 
program director Robert Friedmann recently declared that, “There is no 
Islamophobia. There is knife-o-phobia,” as he presented decontextualized 
video clips of Arabs stabbing Israeli police officers.

Friedmann’s audience was not his usual group of high-ranking police, 
military, and government officials. Rather, he was speaking to a small 
number of civilians at a December 7th, 2015 luncheon held by the Atlanta 
chapter of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The talk, titled “How 
Safe Is America from ISIS?” offered a glimpse into the racist ideology 
underpinning the trainings that police nationwide have undergone.

      Robert Friedmann’s Zionist advocacy

Friedmann, who emigrated from Romania to Israel as a child in 1950, came 
to the U.S. in the 1970s to study sociology, and found his niche in 
researching community policing 
<https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/Photocopy/142192NCJRS.pdf> as a 
professor of criminology  at at Georgia State University (GSU). He 
founded GILEE in 1992, initially to train local law enforcement in 
Israeli counterterrorism tactics he believed were necessary to ensure 
security for the 1996 Olympics. The program has grown by leaps and 
bounds, and now serves as a foreign exchange program for U.S. and 
Israeli police; in multiple delegations throughout the year, law 
enforcement officials from the U.S. travel to Israel for 
counterterrorism training, and Israeli police come to Georgia to learn 
about community policing and drug interdiction. According to Friedmann’s 
AJC presentation, 24,000 participants have engaged in 330 programs and 
180 delegations during GILEE’s 23-year life.

Following its inception, GILEE quickly became a vehicle for Friedmann’s 
Zionist advocacy, which has gained considerable clout over the years. He 
served on the board of the southeast region’s American-Israel Chamber of 
Commerce, is on the professional advisory board of the Israel-based 
International Institute for Counterterrorism, and is included in the 
Israeli embassy’s speaker’s bureau. He also authored an e-newsletter 
during the Second Intifada, through which he shared his analyses of 
“Palestinian terrorism” with 400,000 subscribers. Friedmann later 
published a collection of the newsletters in two 

Friedmann has simultaneously gained stature within law enforcement and 
academia, serving on the International Association of Chiefs of Police 
and the Georgia Security Council. In 2007, GSU awarded Friedmann an 
endowed chair worth $1 million and created specifically to support 
GILEE, which is listed as a research center within the university’s 
Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.. The same year, the Georgia 
General Assembly passed two resolutions commending the program. Georgia 
Governor Nathan Deal hosted 
GILEE’s 20-year anniversary in the governor’s mansion.

The heraldry is surprising, even in a state like Georgia, given how 
blatantly Friedmann’s ideology hews to the extreme. The GILEE website 
features StandWithUs propaganda 
<http://www2.gsu.edu/%7Ecrirxf/Gaza-2008.pdf>, articles by Alan 
Dershowitz (along with some penned by Friedmann who blasts Hamas for 
alleged war crimes while mentioning nothing of Israel’s innumerable 
breaches of international law), and a bizarre tract 
<http://www2.gsu.edu/%7Ecrirxf/Yad-Vashem.htm> on the importance of 
including Holocaust education in police training.

      Secrecy surrounding GILEE funding

GILEE’s rabid brand of Zionism is as transparent as its operations are 
secretive. In 2011, GSU students sought information to determine how the 
program impacts policing in the United States. Their public records 
request was denied and met with unexpectedly intense backlash. State 
Attorney General Sam Olens told a local news station (whose parent 
company sponsors GILEE) that the students were aiding terrorists 

Olens also introduced a sweeping revision 
<http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/33209> of Georgia’s 
Open Records Act, including new exemptions that covered some of the 
information students had requested. The General Assembly passed Olens’ 
bill shortly after his TV interview in which he slandered the students.

That was enough to derail public scrutiny of GILEE for a while. But over 
the past year, as the movement for Black lives has forced the problem of 
police brutality into a national spotlight, journalists and activists 
have questioned 
how programs 
like GILEE serve to militarize U.S. law enforcement.

Mondoweiss requested public records pertaining to GILEE and met with 
similar roadblocks that GSU students did in 2011.

GSU told Mondoweiss that no school funds are allocated to the program; 
it’s funded entirely by private donors. But GSU refused to disclose who 
those donors are, citing an exemption to the Open Records Act that 
covers the personal information of donors to institutions of higher 
education. GSU interpreted “personal information” to mean not only the 
names of individuals, but of corporations and foundations as well.

However, GSU did disclose donation amounts, which show that GILEE has 
raised $4.4 million since 1992. This seemingly low figure may be 
explained by the fact that some, if not all, of the exchange trips are 
paid for in part by public funds.

A 2009 letter <http://www.rockdalecounty.org/docs/8F3a.pdf> from 
Friedmann to an employee of the Rockdale County, Georgia, Sheriff’s 
Office shows that only 25 percent of the employee’s $6,000 trip to 
Israel was covered by GILEE. The rest was funded by a grant 
<https://www.bja.gov/ProgramDetails.aspx?Program_ID=70> from the 
Department of Justice that Friedmann apparently helped to secure.

      Pro-Israel donors support for GILEE

As for GILEE’s coffers, a separate look at the tax records of The Marcus 
Foundation, the personal charity of Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, 
proved it to be a major GILEE funder.

Marcus (who served with Friedman on the American-Israel Chamber of 
Commerce board) donated $720,000 to GILEE between 2008 and 2013. If the 
numbers provided by GSU are comprehensive, his contributions constitute 
38 percent of GILEE’s total funds raised for those years.

Marcus also gives generously to the pro-Israel lobby group, CAMERA, 
along with Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and is active with the 
Zionist Organization of America <http://zoa.org/dinner2014/>.

Both GSU <http://www2.gsu.edu/%7Ecrirxf/JGA07.pdf> and GILEE 
<http://www2.gsu.edu/%7Ecrirxf/FOM3.pdf> have publicly acknowledged 
other donors in the past, including UPS, Georgia Power, Equifax, and The 
Intercontinental Hotels Group. They both named Jim Davis, CEO of 
National Distributing Company––a wholesale alcohol distributor––as a top 
contributor, though his donations are harder to trace. His personal 
charity, The Covenant Foundation, has donated large sums to the Jewish 
Federation of Greater Atlanta, with the stipulation that a portion go to 
GILEE. GILEE received at least $12,000 in this roundabout way in 2012.

      GILEE participants reveal corporate-state partnerships

Corporations have also participated in GILEE’s programs, which are not 
limited to law enforcement officials. GSU would not disclose the names 
of participants, but provided a list of the organizations they represented.

Some companies would seem to be a natural fit, like security consultants 
Fortress Consulting LLC. But some unlikely participants call into 
question the scope of the program and its impact not only on policing, 
but on corporate-state partnerships in the surveillance and control of 
everyday life.

GILEE Participants and List of Agencies and Institutions 
by Mondoweiss <https://www.scribd.com/user/27012941/Mondoweiss>

For example, Central Atlanta Progress (CAP), an elite business 
association that has held undue sway over Atlanta politics since the 
1950s, sent a vice president 
on a GILEE delegation to Israel in 2011.

In an effort to gentrify downtown Atlanta, CAP has funded a network of 
thousands of surveillance cameras 
shared by police and private businesses, deputized an “ambassador force 
<http://www.atlantadowntown.com/initiatives/ambassadors>,” and allegedly 
to shut down the city’s largest homeless shelter.

What lessons has CAP learned from the Israeli surveillance state? It’s 
hard to say. GSU refused to disclose GILEE training materials, and 
instead offered a list of 28 “topics covered in training.” The list 
ranges from the concrete: “Border Policing,” to the abstract: “New 
Economy and its Effects on Public Safety.”

But it’s topics like “Urban Policing,” “Community Policing,” and “Drug 
Interdiction,” that touch on GILEE’s true impact. Not only do U.S. law 
enforcement agents travel to Israel to learn from an occupying force how 
to control a population subjected to apartheid, Israeli police come to 
the U.S. to learn what control of marginalized peoples––communities of 
color, immigrants, targets of the Drug Wars––looks like here.

List of GILEE Training Topics 
<https://www.scribd.com/doc/294585753/List-of-GILEE-Training-Topics> by 
Mondoweiss <https://www.scribd.com/user/27012941/Mondoweiss>

These communities are seemingly viewed as interchangeable by GILEE 
proponents, otherwise, what would Israeli and American police have to 
learn from one another? The existence of GILEE affirms what leaders in 
the U.S. have historically denied: that communities of color are treated 
as enemies of the state within their own country.

As people mobilize to change this, GILEE participants share innovations 
in maintaining control.

      GILEE and the expanding definition of terrorism

During his presentation at the American Jewish Committee Luncheon, 
Friedmann advocated for expanding the definition of terrorism. (This is 
not a new position for Friedmann––in 2010 he equated academic boycotts 
with terrorism 

“Counterterrorism means disrupting the ecosystem of extremism,” he said. 
“Terrorism begins with rhetoric…we need a counterterrorism agenda to 
address incitement.”

Part of that agenda, he said, should be prosecuting people for YouTube 
videos that “incite” terrorism.

He described a video of an imam in Israel saying, “You need to 
understand the plight of the Palestinians,” as an example.

“You know what direction it’s going,” Friedmann explained. “Incitement 
is not always violent. Sometimes it’s quite sophisticated.”

Maybe it’s no coincidence, then, that Clayton County police––whose 
deputy chief went to Israel with GILEE earlier this year––recently 
arrested Latausha Nedd 
a local activist, on charges of making terroristic threats and criminal 
solicitation for online videos in which she expressed anger over police 
brutality against Black people.

It turns out that several of the videos in question were private video 
chats that were hacked by a white supremacist group called No Thiefs 
Allowed, which emailed edited clips to the Clayton County Police 
Department. Nedd is awaiting trial on bond.

Another GILEE graduate made a unilateral decision to illegally blockade 
a public road 
in a gentrifying neighborhood to prevent black teenagers from using it 
as a route to and from school after a white neighbor complained of “gang 
members” on the street.

These cases may or may not be the direct result of GILEE’s influence. 
But as long as GSU refuses to disclose comprehensive data about the 
program’s participants and funders, we are left to piece together what 
information we can about an organization that is shaping how police 
treat perceived threats in the U.S. and Israel alike.

As Friedmann wrapped up his talk at the AJC luncheon, he contended that 
civil liberties stand in the way of combatting terrorism, implying, as 
he had all along, that only Muslims commit terrorist acts.

“The problem is, because of the First Amendment, the FBI won’t go into 
mosques,” he said.

During the Q and A, a lone dissenting voice questioned the 
overwhelmingly anti-Muslim tone of the presentation.

“If we demonize every Muslim, we encourage radicalism,” a man said.

Friedmann deftly redirected the statement, saying that it’s the job of 
the Muslim community to discourage radicalism.

“To date, there is not a single, unequivocal condemnation of the 
September 11 attacks [from the Muslim community]” he said.

In the wake of Ferguson and police killings of unarmed Black people 
nationwide, demands have arisen for better police training, training 
that challenges racial and cultural bias. GILEE, it’s clear, is doing 
the opposite.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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