What could Massachusetts’ highest-ranking legal officer learn from one of the world’s leading violators of international law?
Today, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is in Washington, DC, to address gun violence. But local community leaders are concerned about her next stop on the trip: Israel.
On Sunday the Associated Press reported that Healey would take a trip funded by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the American-Israel Friendship League, a group dedicated to “improving perceptions about Israel”. Along with seven other attorneys general, she will “learn about the nation’s social, technology, economic, justice and cybersecurity issues” from Israeli political leaders. Some question the integrity of such a trip,anticipating that the political slant of the trip will obscure Israeli violence toward Palestinians and harm local communities.
“Israel’s legal system enshrines segregation, discrimination and inequality,” said Elsa Auerbach of Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston. “Palestinians live under military rule and are subjected to detention without charge, extrajudicial executions, and daily forms of harassment. Children as young as twelve are detained and denied access to their parents. Black and brown people in the US are already disproportionately affected by police violence and mass incarceration; tips from Israeli leaders aren’t going to help our legal system.”
“This trip isn’t about security or justice, it’s about racism,” said local attorney and civil rights activist Carl Williams, who emphasized that the racism of local police departments is well-documented and that Healey needs to focus on implementing greater transparency in policing, including police body cameras and data collection of police encounters. “Just like people of color here, Palestinians would benefit from transparency in law enforcement.”
“Having long admired what I thought was Maura Healey’s strong commitment to civil liberties and civil rights, I am astonished and troubled to learn that she is making a propaganda jaunt to Israel,” said Nancy Murray of the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights. “Attorney General Healey damages both her reputation and that of The Commonwealth by associating herself with such an anti-democratic regime.”
This is not the first time that Massachusetts officials have taken trips to Israel funded by pro-Israel groups. The Anti-Defamation League brought Massachusetts police officers to meet with Israeli Defense Forces in January, and the Jewish Community Relations Council brought MA senators to Israel in November. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of academics and artists refuse to visit Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions on Israel until it recognizes basic Palestinian rights.
The Black Lives Matter movement has brought issues of racist police violence and mass incarceration to the forefront of the US criminal justice system, and Massachusetts is no exception. Meanwhile, Israel’s political system is increasingly viewed as fascist, and racist police violence is a regular occurrence, against Palestinians and Jews of color.
When Attorney General Healey is responsible for addressing these injustices in our legal system, is it appropriate for her to take special interest money to learn from leaders who disregard justice for people of color in their own society?
Call Attorney General Healey at 617 727 2200 and tell her not to go to Israel.