Dear Mayor de Blasio:
We understand that, during your recent trip to Israel, you offered the New York Police Department’s “broken windows” approach to policing as a model for world leaders on how to stay alert to anti-Semitism. This advice took place against a backdrop of new legislation approved by the Israeli government enabling police to conduct “stop and frisk” searches without requiring proof of reasonable suspicion — a law that is being selectively enforced against Palestinians. We are deeply disturbed by this recent development, particularly since, as Mayor of New York City, you agreed to court-ordered reforms of the NYPD’s discriminatory “stop and frisk” practices.
“Broken windows” policing is no model for increased safety for Jews or any other community. In New York City, this discriminatory strategy aggressively targets low-income people of color, violates the fundamental rights of New Yorkers, leads to physical and sexual assault, and creates an atmosphere of intimidation, confrontation, and fear, rather than trust. The low-level arrests yielded from this aggressive policing trigger severe consequences for New Yorkers, including job loss, eviction, and even deportation of permanent residents who are not citizens. “Broken windows” policing is fundamentally built on a culture of fear; it must end in New York City and must not be exported elsewhere. It does not, and cannot, aid in the safety in any community, or in the struggle against racism and anti-Semitism.
As Jewish New Yorkers, we firmly believe that no community can ever be safe through the oppression of another. Your advocacy of “broken windows” policing while in Israel reinforces the Israeli government’s ongoing policies of discrimination against Palestinians. The military occupation of Palestinian communities, political and economic exclusion and suppression, and discriminatory and violent policing by the Israeli military and police do not increase the safety of the Jewish people. Your visit to Israel following a year of escalated military violence against Palestinians — combined with your endorsement of “broken windows” policing — sends a message of support for these repressive tactics and violent escalation.
Our communities can only realize true safety when we experience justice. We implore you, as the Mayor of New York, to work for the real safety of all of your constituents and their diasporic communities, including Palestinians and communities of color suffering under discrimination in your city. In our fight to end discriminatory policing, we also urge you not to help promote or export these misguided policies outside our city. We ask for an opportunity to meet with you to discuss our vision for challenging oppression in Israel/Palestine, and ending discriminatory policing in New York.
M. Dove Kent, executive director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice; Donna Nevel, founding member of Jews Say No!; and Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace.