(ATLANTA, GA – 9/23/2019) Over one hundred students, activists, and community members attended “Atlanta Out of GILEE,” a town hall at the Atlanta University Center regarding the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE), an Islamophobic police exchange program that arranges for Georgia law enforcement officials to engage in training with the Israeli government and other foreign human rights violators.
During the town hall at the Atlanta University Center’s Robert Woodruff Library–which was co-hosted by CAIR-Georgia, Black Lives Matter Atlanta, Jewish Voice for Peace-Atlanta, and Project South–speakers discussed GILEE’s history of spreading Islamophobia, whitewashing Israeli oppression of Palestinians, teaching police officials dangerous tactics, and parterning with far-right extremists like Sebastian Gorka.
SEE: GILEE Fact Sheet
SEE: Full Report on GILEE
The Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange was founded in 1992 by Robert Friedmann, an anti-Palestinian activist with ties to the Israeli Embassy to the United States. Since then, GILEE has purportedly arranged for over 1,000 police officials across Georgia, including members of the Atlanta Police Department, to train with police officials from Israel, China, Egypt, Hungary and other nations.
Among other remarks, GILEE Founding Director Robert Friedmann has said or written:
- “The problem is, because of the First Amendment, the FBI won’t go into mosques.”[i]
- “…from within Islamic sources, and I’m talking about the leadership, varied as it is, there has not been a single unequivocal condemnation of September 11th.”[ii]
- “Meanwhile self-styled Arab-American advocacy groups continue to support terror while focusing their efforts on mounting frivolous complaints about violations of their “rights.”[iii]
- “The ‘silent majority’ of Muslims and their various advocacy groups have not yet broken their silence about terrorism, jihad and their attitude to the West.”
- “There is no Islamophobia. There is knife-o-phobia.”[v]
GILEE’s publicly advertised foreign partners include various nations that engage in human rights violations:
- China, where a surveillance state imprisons one million Uighyur Muslims in concentration camps.[i]
- Egypt, where the police have opened fire on protesters, killing nearly 1,000 demonstrators in a single day, tortured dissidents, and subjected female protesters to “virginity tests.”[ii]
- Hungary, where Jewish activists are harassed and threatened[iii] by a far-right government that has sought to whitewash Hungary’s World War II collaboration with Nazi Germany.[iv]
- Israel, GILEE’s original and primary partner, whose military and police forces collaborate to hold millions of Palestinians under an illegal occupation, open fire on protesters,[v] collectively punish entire cities, [vi] and subject residents of African descent to racial discrimination,[vii] among other human rights abuses.[viii]
- Uzbekistan, which has raided churches,[ix] arrested women for wearing hijabs,[x] used forced labor in cotton fields as punishment,[xi] and subjected men accused of being gay to “rectal examinations.”[xii]
Under the guise of teaching “urban policing” and “counter-terrorism,”[i] GILEE teaches police officials the tactics of militarized police forces that treat communities as enemies. GILEE has taught that officers should inspire fear by “racking” their firearms when they unholster them,[ii] flash their vehicle’s blue lights when patrolling neighborhoods,[iii] and limit free speech by targeting “incitement.”[iv]
GILEE has also published extremist articles[i] that advocate for the Iraq War,[ii] call for bombing Iran,[iii] smear Arab-Americans,[iv] and repeatedly slander Jimmy Carter: condemning him as “one of the worst presidents,”[v] arguing he should have never received a Nobel Peace Prize,[vi] calling him and other anti-war activists “appeasers,”[vii] and calling for him to be labeled a “supporter of genocide.”[viii]
In a statement, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:
“The Georgia International Law Enforcement exchange was founded by an anti-Muslim bigot, teaches anti-Muslim bigotry, and works with anti-Muslim bigots. To make matters worse, this rightwing propaganda program arranges for Georgia law enforcement officers to learn about border policing, urban policing, and mass surveillance from governments that regularly violate brutalize innocent people.
“Educating the broader public about this program is the first step towards ending it, especially in the City of Atlanta. African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and other communities who bear the brunt of police brutality and government overreach must stand united in demanding the Atlanta Police Department end its involvement in this program.”
[i] Friedmann, Robert. Articles, Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange. 2002-2014.
[ii] Friedmann, Robert. “Peace At All Costs or a War of No Choice.” GILEE. Dec. 14, 2002.
[iii] Friedmann, Robert. “To Bomb or Not To Bomb—Is That the Question?” GILEE. Sep. 24, 2012.
[iv] Friedmann, Robert. “Wannsee, Oslo, Geneva.” GILEE. Pg. 5. Dec. 7, 2003.
[v] Friedmann, Robert. “Wannsee, Oslo, Geneva.” GILEE. Pg. 5. Dec. 7, 2003.
[vi] Friedmann, Robert. “A History of Dubious Nobel Peace Prizes,” GILEE. November 4, 2005.
[vii] Friedmann, Robert. “A History of Dubious Nobel Peace Prizes,” GILEE. November 4, 2005.
[viii] Friedmann, Robert. “Wannsee, Oslo, Geneva.” GILEE. Pg. 5. Dec. 7, 2003.
[i] “Transcript: GILEE Legislation Meeting Interview with GILEE Executive Director Steve Heaton and GSU Police Chief Joseph Spillane,” Georgia State University Student Senate. April 10, 2019.
[ii] “Transcript: GILEE Legislation Meeting Interview with GILEE Executive Director Steve Heaton and GSU Police Chief Joseph Spillane,” Georgia State University Student Senate. April 10, 2019.
[iii] “Transcript: GILEE Legislation Meeting Interview with GILEE Executive Director Steve Heaton and GSU Police Chief Joseph Spillane,” Georgia State University Student Senate. April 10, 2019.
[iv] “Transcript: GILEE Legislation Meeting Interview with GILEE Executive Director Steve Heaton and GSU Police Chief Joseph Spillane,” Georgia State University Student Senate. April 10, 2019.
[i] Simonton, Anna. “Inside GILEE….” Mondoweiss. January 5, 2016.
[ii] Friedmann, R. “Shifting Sands of Terrorism.” ICT. Sep. 10, 2015
[iii] Friedmann, Robert. “Wannsee, Oslo, Geneva.” GILEE. Pg. 5. Dec. 7, 2003.
[v] Simonton, Anna. “Inside GILEE….” Mondoweiss. January 5, 2016.
[i] “China Events of 2017,” Human Rights Watch World Report 2018. January 2018.
[ii] Kato, Miwa. “Women of Egypt,” The Cairo Review of Global Affairs. 2017.
[iii] “Hungary’s Viktor Orban Fosters Anti-Semitism,” The Jerusalem Post. July 29, 2018.
[iv] “Orban Has Gone Too Far,” Carnegie Europe, July 19, 2012.
[v] “Israelis May Have Committed Crimes Against Humanity in Gaza Protest, U.N. Says”. New York Times. Feb. 28, 2019.
[vi] “Israel’s Indiscriminate Attack on Shujaiya, Opinio Juris, Aug. 27, 2014.
[vii] Israel imposes ‘apartheid regime’ on Palestinians: U.N. report.
[viii] “Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Amnesty International. 2018.
[ix] “Where in the World is the Worst Place to be a Christian?” The Guardian. July 27, 2015.
[x] “Uzbek Imam Sacked After Urging President To Allow Hijabs, Beards,” Reuters. Sep. 10, 2018.
[xi] “World Report 2018: Uzbekistan,” Human Rights Watch. 2018.
[xii] “Uzbekistan: Gay Couple Arrested for Engaging in Illegal Relations,” EurasiaNet. Dec. 4, 2017.