During its 11 p.m. local news on Jan. 30, NBC affiliate Channel 10 devoted considerable coverage to the investigation of a fatal police shooting of a Black man, Alexander Spencer, 28, who was killed in a North Philadelphia convenience store Jan. 26. Police released five minutes of new surveillance video, taken by the store owner, after statements from several witnesses to the shooting contradicted the original police reports. Body cameras worn by the officers involved were not turned on during the encounter with Spencer.
From the video, it appears that police confronted Spencer during a stop-and-frisk, and two officers immediately wrestled him to the ground, possibly tasering him just before he was shot. The video raises questions about the initial police report that made no mention of the stop-and-frisk, and only claimed that Spencer allegedly shot an officer, which led to one of the cops shooting and killing him.
To have a stop-and-frisk encounter between police and their victim, most often Black, turn deadly is unfortunately not an unusual occurrence in Philadelphia — or New York, or Baltimore, or any major U.S. city. What is unusual is for the full surveillance footage to be released so quickly in response to demands from the victim’s family.
Just as unusual was for the next news report — involving the Israeli Occupation Force’s controversial assassination raid at a West Bank hospital — to be aired during a local news session.
The shocking IOF raid on the Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, occurred earlier on Jan. 30. Three unarmed Palestinian men were killed as they were sleeping by Israeli assassins disguised as Muslim women and doctors. The Israeli military claimed the three men were involved in planning an imminent attack, but, in their usual fashion, provided no evidence to support their claim.
One man, who was partially paralyzed, had been receiving treatment since Oct. 25, 2023, after being injured by an Israeli drone attack. The military style invasion of a hospital with the intent to murder patients followed an all-too-familiar pattern that the IOF has carried out in numerous hospitals in Gaza and the West Bank.
However, what caught this writer’s attention was the casual tone with which the broadcaster reported on the deadly Israeli raid — very much as if he was describing yet another police shooting in a Black neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia police trained by Israeli Occupation Forces
The IOF attack in Jenin and the police shooting in Philadelphia have more in common than just their juxtaposition during the nightly news.
Since 9/11, many U.S. police departments, including Philadelphia’s, have been routinely trained by Israeli “security experts.”
Miko Peled’s article “Deadly exchange: America’s racist policing has roots in Israel” was published May 29, 2020, by MintPress News shortly after the Minnesota police suffocation death of George Floyd went viral. Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem.
Peled described this training as a “collaboration between the two racist states who see no problem in executing and watching the slow agonizing death of Black and Brown people. Officer Derek Chauvin, who casually placed his knee on George Floyd’s neck [for 9 minutes], could have easily been an Israeli soldier or police officer holding down a Palestinian.”
Peled describes the training sessions in Israel where police delegations from the U.S. met with Israeli military, police and intelligences agencies: “They are given ‘opportunities’ to learn about what Israel calls counterterrorism but is in fact no more than ‘refining methods of racial profiling.’”
He also noted: “The training Israel offers includes methods to control the media. … The Israeli methods taught include how to use the media as an arm of the government and ‘reframe coverage of state violence.’”
Eventually, the massive Black Lives Matter protests in response to Floyd’s murder sparked backlash against the Anti-Defamation League, one of the key facilitators of police exchanges between the U.S. and Israel. Facing sustained pressure from the Deadly Exchange campaign and Jewish Voice for Peace, the ADL temporarily disrupted the program after it was forced to acknowledge that “its exchange program helped militarize U.S. police and harm communities of color.” (The Guardian, March 17, 2022)
Whatever the ADL said in public, it is unlikely that these training programs ever stopped. The U.S. and Israel are clearly united in an all-out war, not just against Palestinians, but now spreading throughout the West Asia and Northeast Africa regions. The trainings are likely to intensify, with their impact felt, not just in Gaza or Jenin, but in Black and Brown neighborhoods in Philadelphia and cities across the U.S.
The time is now for revolutionary solidarity among Palestinians, communities under siege by police in the U.S. and antiwar and anti-racist activists everywhere.