Connecticut is Not Israel: Mayor Schewel’s Allegation Rejected by Chief Lopez

Background

On April 16, the Durham City Council passed a foreign policy statement making Durham the first city in the United States to boycott police trainings specifically with Israel – the only Jewish majority country on the planet. Voice4Israel has learned through public record requests that Mayor Steve Schewel and Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson referred to the statement as the Israel Resolution.” 

Mayor Schewel Blames Retired Police Chief Lopez 

Speaking at Judea Reform on October 4, Durham’s Mayor Steve Schewel repeatedly alleged that the Israel Resolution he wrote focused on Israel because retired Chief of Police Jose Lopez received militarized training in Israel. Mayor Schewel was echoing allegations made by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) – an organization that promotes boycotting Israel and an organization that Mayor Schewel has financially supported. 

Durham Police Clarification 

On October 10, Durham’s Deputy Chief A.R. Marsh, Sr. set the record straight. In his memo (see right), Marsh wrote that Chief Lopez had “no interaction with the [Israeli] military or training on military tactics, equipment, etc.” The Deputy Chief went on to explain that in response to civil disturbances, the Durham police have employed “best practices” from the United States. 

Police Memo
(October 10, 2018)

Chief Lopez Received No Military Training from Israel

“…As it pertains to Chief Lopez’s (Ret.) training trip to Israel, no one else from our police department accompanied him. There were no policy or tactical changes resulting from Chief Lopez’s visit to Israel. The scope of his training was on leadership in response to terrorist incidents and mass casualty events. There was no interaction with the military or training on military tactics, equipment, etc. I confirmed this with Chief Lopez via telephone.

With respect to the multiple civil disturbances that we have dealt with in our City, I have been in the command post for most of them, and all measures taken by law enforcement have been in response to the behavior of the crowd at that given point in time. The tactics employed were the best practices at that time here in the United States…”

A. R. Marsh, Sr. 
Deputy Chief 
Investigations and Administrative Service
Police Department, City of Durham

Voice4Israel Speaks with Chief Jose Lopez, Sr.

Retired Chief Jose Lopez Sr. spoke with several board members of Voice4Israel. Lopez explained that in 2008 he attended a law enforcement seminar in Israel run by the highly respected Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for commanders on “mass casualty incidents involving bombings.” Lopez stated that he received no military training in Israel and that the only military training he has ever received was through the United States Air Force. 

Rejecting the Mayor’s Allegation: Connecticut is Not Israel 

Responding to Mayor Schewel’s allegation, Chief Lopez stated, “To say I had military training [with Israel] is with the full knowledge I did not.” When asked if Mayor Schewel had contacted him about the Israel Resolution, Lopez stated, “The Mayor has my phone number. He has not once reached out and called me.” Lopez added, “I have never sent out my staff to do any military training.” Lopez explained that no member of his force trained in Israel and that some Durham police officers have military training from their time in the United States military.  

Lopez explained that when he was Chief of Police and responding to what he called out of town anarchists, tactics used by the Durham police were learned in Connecticut at a mobile field force on riot control and not in Israel. Lopez added that these tactics were best practice in the United States at the time.  

"The Mayor has my phone number. He has not once reached out and called me.”

Retired Chief Jose Lopez, Sr.

Opposing White Supremacy

Retired Chief Lopez spoke with pride when sharing that the ADL focuses on anti-black and anti-Hispanic white supremacy which he said is a serious issue in North Carolina.
 

Police Memo: Chief Lopez Received No Military Training from Israel

Durham’s Mayor Steve Schewel recently alleged that Retired Chief Jose Lopez, Sr. received military training in Israel.

Leadership of Voice4Israel contacted the Durham Police Department for clarification about the relevant Seminar that Retired Chief Jose Lopez, Sr. attended in Israel in 2008.

The memo below, dated October 10, 2018, is the answer provided to us by Durham Deputy Chief A. R. Marsh, Sr. In no way does it support allegations that Retired Chief Lopez received military training in Israel.

For background, read “The Israel Resolution” and Rabbis call Durham City Council statement citing Israel a ‘punch in the gut.’

Police Memo
Chief Lopez Received No Military Training from Israel
October 10, 2018

Good morning Mr. Gutman.

I am writing to provide a brief response to the inquiry you submitted to Sergeant Ligo; I have included your original inquiry at the end of this email.

As it pertains to Chief Lopez’s (Ret.) training trip to Israel, no one else from our police department accompanied him. There were no policy or tactical changes resulting from Chief Lopez’s visit to Israel. The scope of his training was on leadership in response to terrorist incidents and mass casualty events. There was no interaction with the military or training on military tactics, equipment, etc. I confirmed this with Chief Lopez via telephone.

With respect to the multiple civil disturbances that we have dealt with in our City, I have been in the command post for most of them, and all measures taken by law enforcement have been in response to the behavior of the crowd at that given point in time. The tactics employed were the best practices at that time here in the United States.

I hope that this has answered your questions satisfactorily.

Best regards,

A. R. Marsh, Sr.
Deputy Chief
Investigations and Administrative Services
Police Department, City of Durham
505 West Chapel Hill Street
Durham, North Carolina 27701

We are all connected. One fabric of pieces quilted together.

Ari Fuld, Israel

This lovely remembrance was sent to us from a dear friend in Israel who knew Ari Fuld well. 

Shattered

I am shattered by tragic loss of life. It hurts hardest when it’s close to home. And today, I am reeling in the loss, very close to me.

Ari Fuld, my friend, was killed today in stabbing in Gush Etzion.

He was alumnus of my yeshiva, Yeshivat Hakotel, we we’re colleagues on staff at Yeshiva Netiv Aryeh. 

He was an expert in martial arts and taught self defense, he was armed with a pistol he relished never using it, he gave selfless love to individual friends and students, and he was proud strong voice for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

Most importantly, he was a married father of 4 – and took great pride in his personal life. He was a teddy bear with a lion heart (his name “Ari”).

His father was my principal in elementary school.
His brother is also a friend of mine (@Hillel Fuld)

Tonight I will join thousands, burying his body in Kfar Etzion 11:30pm.

We are all connected. One fabric of pieces quilted together. 

After being fatally stabbed, Ari still fought to save lives, drawing his weapon (which he hoped would never be drawn) and fired shots to immobilize the terrorist attacker, preventing further carnage, before succumbing to his own wound.

As we mourn losing Ari, we can do what he would have love, connect to our core, our essense or interconnected Jewish souls. And at another level, interconnected humanity, and planetary existence.

It’s not kumbaya. It’s deep strong, proud, unapologetic, Jewish identity and purpose.

We are all connected. One fabric of pieces quilted together.

Voice4Israel would like to thank our anonymous friend in Israel for this lovely remembrance. Also read Ari Fuld: May his memory be a blessing published earlier today. 

Ari Fuld – May his memory be a blessing

Ari Fuld, Israel

May His Memory Be a Blessing

Ari Fuld, beloved father and advocate for Israel, was murdered in a terror attack. Fuld was assistant director of Standing Together, an organization that supports Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers. The Jerusalem Post reports, “Fuld was a father of four and a dual US-Israeli citizen. He served as a sergeant in an elite paratroopers unit in the IDF reserves and also served on the Efrat emergency squad.”

Fuld was at the entrance of a shopping mall near Gush Etzion Junction when he was stabbed by a 17 year old. Fuld shot the terror suspect before being taken to the hospital where he succumbed to his wounds on Sunday (today). 

Fuld in the Triangle

Fuld visited the Triangle in 2016. Many of us had the pleasure of meeting Fuld when he spoke at a packed event in Chapel Hill. Unfortunately, because Fuld was Israeli, security at the event was an important consideration. 4-5 local police officers volunteered that night to insure the event was safe for all. 

Fuld was warm, friendly, and passionate in his love of Israel and love of those who protect Israel. He spoke of a future living in peace with his Palestinian neighbors. Fuld was raising money so that Israeli soldiers could have better clothing and much needed supplies. Fuld spoke of sacrifice – of dangerous assignments so that the families at home would be safe from terror. 

When an audience member asked Fuld about “self hating Jews,” Fuld was thoughtful and shared that he did not like the term. Fuld disagreed in a way that persuaded the audience and did not alienate – a rare gift. Fuld encouraged a strong and compassionate Israel and respectful dialogue. 

When asked about the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, Fuld described a strong and determined Israel, always willing to negotiate. His confidence suggested that BDS was not a threat to Israel. Some of us in the audience disagreed on this point, but we also knew that by living in the United States we have a much different experience on these issues. 

Saying Goodbye  
This morning I visited Fuld’s Facebook page. It was then I saw that after briefly meeting Fuld in 2016, he took the time to send me a friend request. I never saw it until today. I accepted Fuld’s friend request with deep sadness for his family and pride in knowing that Fuld represented Israel and Jews with love, strength, and compassion. 
 
May his memory be a blessing. 
 

by Peter Reitzes, a Voice4Israel board member. 

“I know someone in Tel Aviv!” – 
Building connections to Israel at Camp Shelanu

Israel, Camp Shelanu, Voice4Israel
Photo from Yom Israel - a day dedicated to the state of Israel

Building Connections to Israel at Camp Shelanu 

by Madeline Seltman 

Connection to Israel 

At Camp Shelanu, our connection to Israel reaches over 400 diverse children. Some of our campers have parents from Israel or have been to Israel. Some have learned about Israel in day school or Hebrew school. About half of them are not Jewish and come with no experience about Israel, meaning we are building allies from a variety of faiths. Their age ranges from 5 to 13, they come from many backgrounds, and from across the Triangle. Over 15% have special needs, and our inclusion program is a signature part of what we do. And we believe that wherever campers are coming from, they can walk away feeling like Israel matters to them.

Israel Is Relevant and Meaningful 

At camp, it’s not about any particular beliefs about Israel, it’s really about feeling that Israel is relevant and meaningful and part of everyday life. It’s knowing the difference between American musical chairs and Israeli musical chairs (Israeli-style the chairs are in a line instead of a circle, FYI). It’s knowing that Israeli is not just a desert full of sheep herders and camels. It’s having that Israeli Eurovision song stuck in your head for weeks on end. Don’t believe me? Listen for yourself at this Voice4Israel post – Israeli Songs of the Summer at Camp Shelanu.

Shlichot: The Heart of Our Connection to Israel

A huge part of how we do this is with our shlichim program to bring Israeli camp staff each summer. This year we had four shlichot, the most we’ve ever hosted at Camp Shelanu. Maya, Shelly, Noga, and Tzlil spent three months here, living with local families, being part of our community, and teaching campers about Israel through drama, art, dance, games, Hebrew, and every day conversation. They are the heart of our connection to Israel and the relationships they build with campers is long lasting and impactful.

Feeling Connected to Israel 

To me, the beautiful thing about what campers leave with is not the Hebrew word for “nature” or the fascinating Israeli inventions.  It reminds me of the Maya Angelou quote, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” When campers leave camp and they see something about Israel online or hear something on the radio, they won’t feel like it’s some foreign country halfway across the world. They’ll say, “Wait, I know someone in Tel Aviv,” and they will feel connected.  

Madeline Seltman, Voice4Israel, Camp Shelanu

Madeline Seltman is from Pittsburgh, PA and has been in the triangle for 9 years. She started at the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill in 2009 as a social work intern, was the director of Camp Shelanu for 6 years, and now serves as the Director of Engagement. She is also a parent of two Lerner students. You can see more about Camp Shelanu at the Levin JCC.

Don’t Retweet Anti-Semites: An Open Letter to Durham City Council Member Jillian Johnson

Voice4Israel, Durham City Council
Dr. Adam Goldstein, Family Physician, Voice4Israel Board Member

Dear Ms. Johnson,

I saw last week that you chose to retweet a derogatory statement by Jeremy Corbyn against Israel. I suspect you may share his views about Israel in many ways, although I am not sure you are aware of how most mainstream Jewish organizations and leaders across the World view his longstanding and consistent demonization of Israel. His track record of attacks against Israel, in language and actions, bears the hallmark of modern anti-Semitism as it applies to Israel: demonization, delegitimization, and applying double standards. A recent article that succinctly documents these concerns over many years can be found here

 

Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson retweets a perpetuation of the myth that Israel indiscriminately targets civilians.

Israel, Voice4Israel, V4I

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

A recent book I have read is one that you may find of interest. It is from Yossi Klein Halevi, one of the most preeminent, progressive writers today about the Palestinian/Israel narratives.

In his just published book Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, Mr. Halevi has worked for years to co-Direct, with Imam Abdullah Antepli of Duke, the Muslim Leadership Initiative, that teaches young Muslim American leaders about Judaism and Israel in Israel. He eloquently describes in his book how one of the main obstacles to peace in the Middle East is an inability to hear a side of the narrative different from our own. He says that “One reason that the well-intentioned efforts of diplomats have failed so far is that they tend to ignore the deep religious commitments on both sides. For peace to succeed in the Middle East, it must speak in some way to both of our hearts.” I highly recommend this short book to you that can access here

Demonizing Israel 

A bottom line is that if you continue to listen to and promote only one narrative, whether it be the in the Durham Council’s statement on terrorism and police singling out and demonizing Israel, or giving credence to those with decades long track records of fostering hostility against Israel, and promote both narratives in ways that alienate substantial members of your own community who have a different narrative that is equally valid, you will never get to the place you hope of an enduring peace in the Middle East.

Sincerely,

Adam Goldstein, MD

Adam Goldstein, MD, is a family physician and researcher, who has served in leadership capacities for multiple Jewish organizations in North Carolina, across the U.S. and in Israel. His research on addiction has been cited nationally and internationally, appearing in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, on CNN and multiple other media platforms.

Explaining Anti-Semitism and Discrimination to the Durham City Council: An Open Letter

Israel, Mark Anthony Middleton, Voice4Israel
Amy Rosenthal with Josh Ravitch

Explaining Anti-Semitism and Discrimination to the Durham City Council

Voice4Israel board member Amy Rosenthal sent this letter to Durham City Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton to share her concerns about the discriminatory nature of the Council’s decision to single out Israel.

Hello Mr Middleton,

I have reviewed again your statement from the April 16th hearing regarding police exchanges with Israel. You said “I’m troubled….that the mere mention of a nation is somehow anti-Semitic. I’ve seen that tactic before.” We who support Israel have not said you cannot criticize Israel, I have no idea where you got that notion, but you seem quite pleased to be calling us out on it anyway. All the Israel supporters I know criticize Israel, and America, and Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, and Lebanon, and England, and France, etc, etc. It becomes discriminatory and anti-Semitic when you only criticize Israel, and blame that country while ignoring egregious behavior on the part of others.

"It becomes discriminatory and anti-Semitic when you only criticize Israel, and blame that country while ignoring egregious behavior on the part of others."

You said “the council did not single out Israel.” If this were true, why is that the only country mentioned? Simply because you chose the lines you wanted to select from Chief Davis’ statement, while leaving out the positive experiences she had working with Israel, does not excuse your selective wording. To say “we were just quoting Chief Davis” is a slick way of trying to get out of what you did, but we are not fooled.

You properly asked the question “what does military style mean?”, then never went on to define it. Even so, you and everyone else used the words as though they understood exactly what it means. What kind of research did you do on the matter? How do you know that Israeli police are “militarized”? Based on what data, criteria and research? Did you compare this to other countries who train with American police?

Finally, I found your last words offensive and anti-Semitic. Other groups “would love to have the time we’re spending on this…but when you got more money and you’re better organized….I guess you get our attention”. You should know that the pro-Israel community spent zero dollars on our defense. We had no money, but what we did have, and continue to have, is outrage. That is why we were there. We feel deeply wounded. That is why we will do everything possible to educate people about the wrongs that were done to the Jewish community, wrongs that you played a role in.

Thank you for your time,

Amy Rosenthal

Amy Rosental, Israel

Bio: Amy Rosenthal lived in Jerusalem from 1964-1965. Although I was young, Israel had a powerful effect on me, and I have loved the land ever since. My experience there is an important part of who I am. I am dedicated to seeing Israel thrive in the future.

Netta Barzilai Dazzles North Carolina

Netta Barzilai, Voice4Israel
Barzilai walking off stage to screaming applause.

Netta Barzilai, an Israeli singer who recently won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, played to a packed house at Raleigh’s Crabtree mall today. Barzilai’s set was filled with singing, dancing, and wild applause. Fans and families sang along. The local Israeli community was well represented and watched from the back of the stage. Barzilai signed autographs and took pictures with every child who greeted her. 

Children had “Nettta” painted on their heads. A college student attending with her mother said she drove an hour to hear the Eurovision star sing her hits. A mother held a “We Love Netta” sign and fans waved Israeli flags. Netta did not dissappoint!

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It is a privilege to be a Jew, my son

Daniel Greyber, Israel, Judaism

Rabbi Daniel Greyber wrote the following letter to his son, Alon, before he went off to college. Voice4Israel is honored to share it with our readers. 

"I wish that I could tell you that Jews are safe in a world without Israel, but I cannot."

Rabbi Daniel Greyber

A Letter to My Son

I wish that I could tell you that Jews are safe in a world without Israel, but I cannot. A few weeks ago, we watched Schindler’s List. Your ima and I have given you a Jewish identity without a lot of focusing on the Shoah (the Hebrew word for the Holocaust). We have given you Shabbat and Jewish prayer and holidays and Hebrew and Torah study and mitzvoth as the foundation to your Jewish identity. While we never hid the Holocaust from you, we waited until you turned 16 to show you Schindler’s list. It is not until this summer, after many previous summers at Ramah, when you will travel to Poland that you will learn more deeply about the crimes that were committed against our people just 75 years ago. We did not hide these things from you, but waited to introduce them to you because there is a downside to sharing this history with you: the darkness of the Shoah can be so powerful that it overwhelms light and hope. I hope that as you learn about the Shoah, you never lose hope in God and hope in the capacity of the world to be redeemed. But I also hope that you learn that Israel must exist if the Jewish people are to be safe from genocide. I wish I could tell you that America will always be safe for Jews; I cannot. Germany was a progressive, enlightened society; people thought it could never happen. It did there. It can here.

Israel is important though, not only as a refuge. Your abba is a rabbi who loves the Jewish tradition of study and prayer but I accept the Zionist critique which the rabbinic Judaism the developed in the diaspora left us with enormous intellectual gifts but deprived us of wisdom that only comes with the responsibilities of self-governance. Rabbi David Hartman wrote: “Israel expands the possible range of halakhic involvement in human affairs beyond the circumscribed frameworks of the home and synagogue. Jews in Israel are given the opportunity to bring economic, social, and political issues into the center of their religious consciousness.” Only because of Israel do we now have modern music, and television, and film and literature in Hebrew. Only because of Israel are the Jewish people able to send help after an earthquake in Haitii or to advise California on how to solve its water crisis. A sovereign Jewish state is the great religious and moral challenge the Jewish people have embarked upon in thousands of years. In 1762, more than a century before Theodor Herzl launched political Zionism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, writing in Emile, said, “I shall never believe I have heard the arguments of the Jews until they have a free state, schools and universities, where they can speak and dispute without risk. Only then will we know what they have to say.” He was right. If Israel disappears, much more will be lost than just a refuge. It is a blow from which I do not know the Jewish people can recover again.

"Judaism’s most audacious idea may be that, in God’s eyes, we are not small. We matter."

Rabbi Daniel Greyber

Of course, this begs the question, why should the Jewish people matter to you? You are a scientist, my son. I believe God blessed you with a great mind, even if, in your mind, you are not sure you believe in God. You, better than I, sense how big the universe is – that we launched a spacecraft to Jupiter in 1989 and, after traveling at a speed equivalent to flying from Los Angeles to New York in 82 seconds and using “planetary gravity assists,” Galileo finally arrived — six years later! Our solar system is one of 100 billion star systems in the Milky Way, and the Milky Way is one of about 30 galaxies in what astronomers call our “local group.” We are small. Judaism’s most audacious idea may be that, in God’s eyes, we are not small. We matter. “The greatest sin of man,” wrote Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “is to forget that he is a prince — that he has royal power.” I cannot prove to you your life’s worth, my son; I can only bequeath to you the knowledge that you matter a great deal, that within you is an entire world of potential and goodness. I cannot prove to you that the Jewish people matter; I can only bequeath to you my faith that the people of Israel matter a great deal, that we have brought knowledge and love and faith and light into the world. It is a privilege to be a Jew, my son. We are no better, no worse, than other peoples. We are a small, fragile fragment in a sea of human life. Our task is eternal – to bring God’s light into the world. We matter. You matter. And because these things are true, Israel matters as a place to keep us safe, as a society within which the Torah can be most fully brought to life, as a culture through which our people can most fully know ourselves and the world. She is not perfect. Nothing is. But she is ours, and she matters more than we can know.

Love, Abba.

Daniel Greyber is rabbi at Beth El Synagogue, a Conservative and Orthodox synagogue in Durham, NC that welcomes many intermarried and gay and lesbian families and is home to a politically involved population with widely divergent opinions on everything. Greyber is the author of Faith Unravels: A Rabbi’s Struggle with Grief and God, was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles and received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communications from Northwestern University. Most importantly, he is married to Jennifer, and is the proud father of their three sons, Alon, Benjamin, and Ranon.

Jewish Values and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Series

Thursday, September 27 at 6:00pm at the Levin JCC (Mandatory Introductory Session)

Taught by Rabbi Daniel Greyber

Through the study of Jewish narratives about Israel and the unpacking of the complex meaning of peace in the Jewish tradition, participants are invited to explore the ideas and values that animate different attitudes toward the conflict and how these values shape their own political understanding. This introductory session at the Levin JCC will be followed by 12 course sessions, beginning October 11 at 6:30pm.