Is Israel to blame for the tragic killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota this year? It’s not a question that has crossed many people’s minds as protests have swept across America in reaction to the unarmed man’s death.
For certain sections of the left though, a connection with Israel can always be found. It certainly seems that way for the actress and full-on Corbynista Maxine Peake. Peake gave an interview with the Independent today, in which she claimed that:
“Systemic racism is a global issue… The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.
The Indy itself appeared to endorse this, noting afterwards that:
“Though a spokesperson for the Israeli police has denied this, a 2016 Amnesty International report said that hundreds of law enforcement officials had travelled to Israel for training.
Peake’s somewhat bizarre claim originates in a Morning Star piece from 1 June this year, headlined ‘Minnesota cops “trained by Israeli forces in restraint techniques”’. Peake is a big fan of the communist publication, and has been a guest editor of the paper in the past.
Unsurprisingly, there does not appear to be much evidence to back the headline up. The Morning Star piece seems to be solely based on a short article on Minnesota Public Radio, which noted that 100 officers attended a conference hosted by the Israeli consulate eight years ago.
The conference was not about policing or restraint techniques though, but was instead focused on counter-terrorism. According to reports at the time, the conference only lasted for half a day and mainly looked at techniques to prevent terrorist acts, such as suicide bombings.
Speakers on the day included ‘a police commander who is speaking from the point of view of the police chief,’ and ‘a bomb tech specialist… speaking about the techniques and the improvised explosive devices that were used by the terrorists.’ No mention was made at the time of Minnesota police learning restraint techniques. In other words, Peake’s view that ‘Israeli secret services’ were involved in George Floyd’s death appears to be a conspiracy theory.
Meanwhile, the Amnesty ‘report’ cited by the Independent appears to be a blogpost which concerns American police officers travelling to Israel for training. No mention was made in the report of the Minnesota police force.
None of this appeared to trouble Shadow Education Minister Rebecca Long-Bailey though, who glowingly re-tweeted the interview and remarked that ‘Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond.’
Mr S wonders if Long-Bailey read the article at all. If she had, she might have spotted Peake saying that Labour leader Keir Starmer is ‘a more acceptable face of the Labour Party for a lot of people who are not really left wing’. Awkward…