Beyond Palestine: Unpacking Israel's Impact on the U.S.

By Ayah Ziyadeh, Advocacy Director, AMP

In the bustling streets of major cities across the U.S., amidst a sea of protest banners and passionate voices demanding justice, the influence of Israel extends far beyond its occupation of Palestine and the borders of the Middle East. While the Palestinian struggle remains a focal point, it is crucial to recognize that Israel's footprint on American soil encompasses a spectrum of issues that affect Americans. 

Police Exchanges and Civil Rights 

One often overlooked facet is the longstanding police exchange programs, where American law enforcement agencies are trained by the Israeli occupation force. This collaboration has led to a troubling convergence of practices that infringe upon the civil rights of Americans. From surveillance tactics to excessive and brutal force, these exchanges have contributed to a culture of militarization within our police forces. Instances of racial profiling, use of lethal force disproportionately against Black and brown communities, and violations of due process have become disturbingly common, reflecting a systemic issue that undermines civil liberties and erodes trust between law enforcement and the communities they supposedly serve. 

The adoption of Israeli methods in police training has stifled dissent and chilled the exercise of free speech during protests in U.S. streets. 

The brutality experienced by Palestinians on the ground starkly resembles the violence seen on black and brown people in the United States for a reason. The tactics honed in occupied territories find their way back to American soil, perpetuating a cycle of oppression that echoes across continents. Tear gas canisters fired in Gaza find their counterparts in Ferguson and Baltimore, blurring the lines between foreign occupation and domestic policing. The solidarity between Palestinians and activists in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement extends beyond shared experiences of brutality to practical knowledge exchange. Palestinians, having endured tear gas and other forms of repression for decades, have become adept at navigating and mitigating its effects. This expertise was shared with BLM activists during the protests in Ferguson and Baltimore, where Palestinians in the West Bank guided Black activists through Twitter on handling tear gas and managing crowd control tactics, demonstrating global solidarity born from shared struggles against systemic oppression. 

Consider Angela Davis’s work in Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement. In an era marred by police exchanges and civil rights violations, Davis's insights on Palestine resonate with uncompromising force. She exposed the insidious connections between these exchanges and systemic oppression, revealing how they fuel state violence and repressive tactics against marginalized communities. Her unwavering analysis serves as a clarion call for urgent action, demanding a comprehensive reckoning with the intertwined struggles for civil rights and liberation on a global scale.

The student encampments taking place across the country demanding an end to U.S. institutional support for Israel’s genocide in Gaza echoes the fervor and impact of past student protests during the 1960s and 1970s Anti-War movements. These encampments serve as crucibles of resistance, where young activists converge to challenge oppressive systems and demand accountability. Just as the student protests of the past catalyzed social change and amplified voices for justice, today's encampments symbolize a new wave of activism rooted in the legacy of civil rights struggles, globally. They embody the spirit of grassroots movements that refuse to be silenced, harnessing collective energy to confront institutionalized injustices. 

Picture the scenes of these encampments, where demonstrators are facing militarized responses reminiscent of occupied territories. Tear gas and rubber bullets have become routine tools, eroding the fundamental rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The line between safeguarding public order and suppressing legitimate dissent blurred under the shadow of these exchanges. 



Academic Repression 

In the realm of ideas, academic freedom stands as a cornerstone of democratic discourse. However, discussions about Israel’s occupation of Palestine have become fraught with censorship and repression on college campuses and within scholarly circles. The influence of the Israeli government and its allies, notably the Zionist lobby, extends far beyond political spheres, infiltrating academic institutions and shaping the boundaries of permissible discourse. Professors face backlash, students fear retribution, and the pursuit of knowledge is supressed when issues as salient as Palestine are deemed off-limits. 

The insidious grip of foreign influence becomes starkly evident when examining universities' ties with arms manufacturers and other entities aligned with Israeli interests. This entanglement raises fundamental questions about the ethical responsibilities of academic institutions. Soon, we may see the murder of a student, a tragic consequence of universities prioritizing ties with Israel, over valuing the sanctity of life. This callous disregard for safety and ethical considerations underscores a troubling prioritization of financial interests over human rights and justice. 

We’re witnessing the largest public shift of opinion in history toward the occupation of Palestine, with corporations, universities, and the government scrambling to maintain the status quo. This chilling effect stifles academic freedom and shapes public discourse, limiting the diversity of perspectives needed for informed decision-making. When voices of dissent are stifled and critical inquiry is discouraged, our intellectual landscape loses its vibrancy, depriving us of the valuable insights essential for substantial progress. 

The pervasive influence of foreign entities highlights the urgent need for transparency, accountability, and a reevaluation of institutional allegiances to ensure that principles of justice and human rights are upheld above all else.

Government Prioritization of Israel 

Equally concerning is the undeniable prioritization of Israel in our government's foreign policy calculus. The disproportionate allocation of resources and political capital towards supporting Israel has consequences closer to home. Domestic priorities often take a backseat as billions in aid flow overseas, prompting questions about whose interests are truly being served. 

From healthcare to infrastructure, the needs of American communities are vast and pressing. Yet, time and again, we witness policies that place the defense of Israeli interests above investments in our people. This imbalance not only strains our resources but also raises ethical questions about the values driving our nation's decisions. 

On April 24th, President Bidens signed two bills into law that epitomized a troubling prioritization of interests. One bill banned TikTok, a move widely criticized as an assault on American freedom of speech, doubling down on digital censorship. In fact, a U.S. Senator publicly vocalized that the U.S. was moving to ban TikTok due to overwhelming support for Palestinian rights, accounting for more coverage than the top ten U.S. news outlets combined. The second bill is a military aid package that allocated an additional $14.1 billion in weaponry to Israel, an entity embroiled in a campaign of deliberate destruction against Palestinians over the past 7 months. In the face of such atrocities, supplying Israel with weapons is not justifiable—it is barbaric. Not only is it immoral, but violates international and U.S. laws. President Biden, his administration, and Congress bear the singular responsibility for enabling these egregious actions, prioritizing geopolitical interests over human rights and dignity. 


As we navigate these complex realities, it is imperative to recognize that Israel's impact transcends geopolitical borders. The issues highlighted—police exchanges infringing on rights, government prioritization, and academic repression—reflect broader systemic challenges that demand attention and action. 

We must advocate for policies that uphold our constitutional freedoms, prioritize the well-being of Americans, and foster open and honest dialogue on these issues. Only then can we truly confront the multifaceted impact