Friday, August 22, 2014

Prof. Mark LeVine's Comparison Between Gaza and Ferguson

Prof. Mark LeVine
UC Irvine

Only a lefty university professor could write an article such as UC Irvine Professor and anti-Israel activist Mark LeVine has written for Qatar's Al Jazeera. In this article, LeVine compares and contrasts the situation in Ferguson and Gaza, albeit in a somewhat cloudy manner.

Leave it to LeVine to lump in all the tired old 1960s expressions like "military-industrial complex" and "prison-industrial complex" with the "militarization of the southern border", "anti-immigrant hysteria" (Don't you mean anti-illegal immigrant hysteria, Mark?) and every other ill, real or imagined, in his mind-even including a reference to the United Farm Workers of the California Central Valley back in the 1960s.

There is a good reason why US and other authorities have received training in counter-terror measures from the Israelis. The Israelis have become experts in it after so many decades of having to defend themselves against terrorists, Mark. Get it?

Whether LeVine cares to recognize it or not, we are all living in a tough neighborhood these days, especially Israel, which is fighting for its very survival against the disreputable folks that LeVine is so sympathetic to.

And before he goes too far with his criticism of the police in St Louis County and using terms like "police violence", he might wait for all the facts to come in as to the shooting of Michael Brown. There are two opposing narratives to that shooting, and we need to await the results of a full investigation as to which narrative is true. You might think that the cops in Missouri were too heavily-equipped and heavy handed against the ensuing protests, but there is no disputing that the peaceful local demonstrators had been usurped by violent thugs who came with their own agenda. Throwing missiles at police and breaking into stores to loot requires a police response. More importantly, shots were fired during the several nights of disturbances-and not by police. On one evening two people were shot-not by police. That seems to justify a "militarized" presence to me. Furthermore, if Mark objects to the "militarized policing" tactics of American and Israeli police, perhaps he would like to compare it to the "SWAT" tactics of Hamas in Gaza.

"You have the right to remain silent...."

Hamas SWAT team in action in Gaza.

I would also argue that the use of SWAT teams to conduct raids in extremely volatile situations saves lives due to the extensive training and professionalism involved. Having seen SWAT teams in action and my own experience in conducting raids or executing search warrants, I believe strongly that SWAT teams increase  the safety factor for all. It is one thing to sit in your ivory tower filled with research reports. It is quite another to have lived it over the course of a 25-year career.

In addition, as a retired DEA agent who came on the job during the Nixon administration, I also take issue with LeVine's depiction of the "war on drugs" (a misnomer if ever there was one). Contrary to what he may suspect, we did not target minority neighborhoods for selective enforcement. We took our targets as we found them. I can attest to having arrested just as many white drug traffickers as minorities. Perhaps, LeVine would have been happier if DEA and local police  had taken the attitude of just letting the drug situation in the inner city fester without bothering with it. Take my word: There are a lot of people in those neighborhoods who are happy to see the drug dealers removed.

In addition, Levine, before he moralizes about American and Israeli police/military, should consider his own involvement as a writer for Al Jazeera, an organ of a Qatar government that funds terrorist organizations like Hamas. Qatar is hardly an example of international morality. Yet LeVine allows himself to be used as a tool for the news organ of that duplicitous government by spinning out careless nonsense like this.

But what can we expect from LeVine? By his own accounts, he was a campus activist who was involved in "occupying" his school (Hunter College) because they raised the tuition.

"In 1989, when I was a student at Hunter College in New York City, then Governor Mario Cuomo proposedbudget cuts along with a relatively small tuition increase of our tuition to handle an $18 million dollar deficit. The response of students? To take over an administration building, boycott classes and demonstrate outside the governor’s office at the World Trade Center. We even blocked traffic outside the Lexington Avenue, Manhattan campus during rush hour, and at least 100 students locked and occupied a huge swath of one of the main buildings.
Within a week or so, the majority of the campuses of the City University of New York and the  State University of New York system were occupied; at Hunter, I remember we took over the admin building and the library (but still let students in and out, if memory serves me right).
Soon after that we marched downtown, almost 10,000 strong, and generally made such a mess of things that Governor Cuomo vetoed his own proposal for tuition increases, at least for that year. When the state tried to raise tuition and cut the budget again the next year, the whole process started over and didn’t give up until they had won a stronger voice in various school issue. Of course, over time tuition continued to rise at Hunter and other CUNY schools, but the rise occurred in direct proportion to the lowering of student activism."
-New University
That's great, Mark. How proud you must be.

I suspect that Mark's problem was that he was born too late and missed the fun and excitement of the 1960s (which I did not, unfortunately, though I did not participate in all the nonsense).

But if I had to guess at what LeVine's actual thesis is, in pointing out the disparities between Israel and our own history of dealing with civil unrest, he says that Israel has not learned how to deal with the Palestinians while the US has come to grips with our racial issues in the past decades. To that I would add that it is two very different situations. Israel is fighting for its very existence as a nation against a foe that is determined to destroy it. Leaving the West Bank aside, LeVine should read the Hamas charter.

I would respectfully suggest that LeVine divert his focus from Israel and look at all the horror that is occurring in the Middle East. Christians and other religious minorities are fleeing for their lives, and people by the hundreds are being beheaded or simply shot in the head (if they are lucky). The same thing will happen to Israel's Jews if they are defeated by the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah. Yet, LeVine, like so many others, remains fixated on Israel, the only functional democracy in sea of hatred and murder.


Squid said...

One wonders how much money LeVine makes writing articles for Al Jazeera, to supplement his UCI salary. The article in this post is full of inaccurate information and assumptions. I would give it an "F" grade for poor research and background sourcing. Certainly not a graduate level paper. For instance, LeVine says the Darryl Gates started SWAT type tactics designed after an incident in the grape growing country of California. Wrong Dr. LeVine! The LAPD started its SWAT unit after they got severely shot up in a Hollywood, Bank of America shoutout. The LAPD was out gunned by AR 15 equipped bank robbers wearing bullet proof vests that made it almost impossible for the PD to effect them with 9mm pistols. The PD had to go to a local gun store in the neighborhood and get AR 15 rifles to battle the bad guys. This was the start of the SWAT team, not grape farmer issues. Do your research LeVine! You have a chance to get extra credit to make up the grade.


Gary Fouse said...

Well stated, Squid. That bank robbery case is a perfect refutation to LeVine's criticism of military-style tactics.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Le Vine is sort of like those Christians who are looking forward to imminent martyrdom in the United States... a comfortable martyrdom, railing about the anti-Christian prejudices of our culture and government from the air conditioned comfort of their spacious living rooms. Le Vine wants to feel at one with the oppressed while collecting the pay, benefits, and perks of a university professor. I am not impressed. When he has spent ten years working out of a storefront in an impoverished inner-city area, and LIVING in the neighborhood, I will consider that he might have something to say.

However, I agree with Senator Rand Paul that the militarization of the police has gone way too far. There are legitimate circumstances for pulling out the SWAT teams and the military hardward... there is a reason the S stands for "Special." Bank robbers with bullet proof vests is a good case in point. Angry protesters in Ferguson is not. Face masks may be helpful, tanks are not.

Gary Fouse said...


The local protesters in Ferguson were not the problem. The hoodlums who came from outside and engaged in violence were.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I would be surprised if SOME of the hoodlums engaging in violence were not local -- although some were certainly from outside. Starting within 24 hours after the Rodney King verdict, most of those on the street had nothing to do with protesting either -- they were just out to take advantage of the vacuum and get what they could.

But protests were also still going on, and police helped to give cover to the looters by moving on protests with armored cars and automatic weapons. A well planned deployment to cover likely targets of looting, while allowing protests to continue unmolested, and working with protest leaders (such as there were any) to isolate looters, would have been more productive.