A referendum calling on Tufts University to end its police department’s involvement with the Israeli police force and its military is scheduled to be voted on this week.
Students will vote on the resolution, which was introduced by the school chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), on Tuesday. It will be part of the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate special election ballot.
According to Tufts SJP in an op-ed in The Tufts Daily on Monday, the text of the referendum states, “Do you support Tufts University administration 1) apologizing for sending the former Tufts police chief to an intensive week-long course led by senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from Israel’s intelligence and security services, and the Israeli Defense Force, 2) prohibiting TUPD officers from attending programs based on military strategies and/or similar international trips in the future, and 3) refining the vetting process to prevent prior program attendees from being hired, not including veterans who may have been stationed or trained abroad during their service?”
Patrick Collins, executive director for public relations at the university, told Jewish Insider on Sunday, “The Anti-Defamation League-sponsored trip to Israel—which over 200 different federal, state and local agencies from across the U.S. have participated in over the years—was not a military training program, nor was it intended to serve as an endorsement of any particular policy or policing strategy. TUPD has made community policing a priority for many years and has policies and training in place that emphasize that everyone—regardless of background—must be treated with dignity and respect.”
Jewish groups on campus have called for the referendum to be rejected.
SJP held a seven-day action in November calling for an end to TUPD trips to Israel in the aftermath of then-Tufts executive director of public safety and TUPD chief Kevin Maguire traveling to Israel in December 2017 for a nine-day National Counter-Terrorism Seminar along with a delegation of Massachusetts police officials and agents from the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The SJP-driven initiative at Tufts reflects the BDS-supporting Jewish Voice for Peace’s (JVP) “Deadly Exchange” campaign that calls for ending cooperation between U.S. law enforcement and their Israeli colleagues. The campaign was launched in 2017 against what JVP termed “discriminatory and repressive policing” by both American and Israeli police.
The Anti-Defamation League said, according to the Legal Insurrection report, JVP’s campaign “veers uncomfortably close to age-old anti-Semitic canards about Jews using their influence to undermine the societies of the countries in which they live.”
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