As I sit down to write this and reflect on the last 24 hours, I can only say what a privilege it is for me to be traveling to Israel with such an impressive group. I have the honor of leading the ADL Western States Counterterrorism Seminar and will be spending the next 7 days on a journey through Israel with 15 law enforcement executives from all over California and Washington.
Our group of 18, which includes my colleague Joanna Mendelson and ADL Board Member Mark Dillon, landed yesterday at Ben Gurion at about 5:00 p.m. This is the first trip to Israel for all of our law enforcement participants and we have been on the go since the moment we arrived.
We began our trip with a delicious and informative dinner on the top floor of our hotel with a magnificent view of the walls of the Old City. We were welcomed by Phyllis Gerably, Director of ADL’s Jerusalem office. Phyllis briefed the group on what the next week would look like and we were all amazed by the program and itinerary that had been organized by Phyllis and her staff. After dinner we were briefed by a Brigadier General, who gave an overall view of the Israeli National Police (INP), explaining to the group that there is only one national police force in Israel, in sharp contrast to the way things work in the US. He spoke about the 28,000 officers who make up the INP and the 50,000 volunteers that work together. We learned how the INP works with the IDF, the Mossad, and Shin Bet and how everyone must put their egos aside to work together. As the Brigadier General told us, “we learned by blood that we must work together.”
After a typical early ADL start today, we were off to meet the Commander of the Moriah district. I think the slogan of that district “to manage the impossible” says it all. They manage criminal activity, keep the public order and deal with terrorist activity in one of the most complicated parts of the world. In fact, while we were at the station the Commander received a call about the imminent death of Rabbi Yosef and told us that they would be expecting at least a half million mourners at the funeral. Rabbi Yosef did in fact pass away several hours later and we witnessed firsthand what happens in Jerusalem when between 500,000 and 700,000 people arrive for a funeral.
We visited the Observation point at Gilo and had a briefing from Border Police. This was followed by a look into Bethlehem and a tour of Terminal Rachel, getting a feel of what it must be like to pass through the crossing.
Our day continued at Mabat 2000 in the Old City with a fascinating briefing from Mickey Rosenfeld, spokesman for foreign media, Israel National Police. We learned about the role of media in times of crisis and the importance of the role of media vis a via security.
After a delicious falafel lunch we continued to our next meeting with the Chief of Security for the Jerusalem Light Rail. We learned their perspective on security for this project and the importance of this transportation to be easy, efficient and available to all. I learned that half of all the light rail drivers are from the West Bank. This project has significantly helped reduce traffic in Jerusalem, although I can tell you that it didn’t seem to help at all when we left the meeting to come upon the half million people heading to the Rabbi’s funeral. So, we sit in traffic in Jerusalem and watch the sights……What an amazing first 24 hours!
Posted by Tammy Gillies, Regional Director