Last week, Sammy Hanf wrote about a movement in Durham that seeks to block police officers from participating in exchange programs with Israeli security forces. Amy Rosenthal argues that this is a “pitiful excuse for journalism” and “no more than paranoid extrapolation.”

“The article sounds reasonable and righteous until the reader questions the ‘information’ provided,” Rosenthal writes. “By its own admission, only the last two police chiefs have participated in training with Israeli forces. The author makes presumptions about what is taught, but Israel is well-recognized as an international expert on counterterrorism, and this is the focus. Community policing and crowd control are not discussed in these exchange programs.”

Adds Stanley Robboy: “Hanf’s recent article encourages the Durham government to embrace a perilous, anti-safety policy. This group, Demilitarize from Durham2Palestine, promotes an anti-police, anti-safety agenda. In June, it promoted an event ‘to divest from policing’ and to ‘let the [city] council know (once again) that cops are not public safety, and that our money should fund the things that do keep us safe.’ Many in our community, from all sides of the political spectrum, sensibly eschew such a reckless and irresponsible agenda.

“This group also demonizes Israel, a country that works cooperatively with the U.S. and our allies across the globe to make our communities safer. After 9/11, where did our country turn to learn more about airline security? To Israel. Working closely with Israel and other allies on safety is what we should not only expect, but demand of our leaders.

“For decades, Israel has worked with many countries throughout the world, including those in Africa and the Middle East, to share water recycling, irrigation, farming, and medical and scientific technologies. Israel’s willingness to share its expertise has immeasurably improved lives across the globe. Will Durham activists seek to end these relationships, too? Durham officials should think twice about taking public safety advice from those who demonize the police and Jews and are associated with activists who specifically target other Jewish causes.”

Erica Hellerstein wrote in last week’s paper about local students’ reactions to the mass shooting in Parkland, which culminated with a walkout of high school students in Cary. Chris O’Brien writes: “‘Why does this keep happening? And what can be done to stop it?’ The answer to these questions is blindingly obvious: there’s only one difference between the U.S.with its generations of nonstop gun violence and graveyards full of shot dead women and childrenand the rest of the industrialized world, which has none of the above. Guns. That’s it.

“Countries without a lot of gunsand you may find this shockingdon’t have a lot of gun violence. As long as the U.S. has three hundred million guns, it will continue to lose thirty thousand a year to them.”

“I understand the frustration of some high school students, especially those in schools that experienced a shooting incident,” counters John Richeson. “I also recognize that we have many intelligent and thoughtful high school students. The bottom line, however, is that these students are adolescents, still wet behind the ears, so to speak. They have earned no significant life experience except from home and school socialization.

“The idea of high school students affecting our laws and constitution by walkouts (truancies) and boycotts is unsettling at the least. It makes me think of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies! Guns are not the problem; unstable people with guns are the problem. Punish those who commit the crimes and leave the rest of us law-abiding citizens alone.”

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