May 7, 2021
Re: Antisemitic “Deadly Exchange” Campaign Promoted on United Shades of America
To Whom It May Concern:
I write on behalf of StandWithUs, a non-profit education organization supporting Israel and combating antisemitism. The educators at our organization are deeply concerned that the antisemitic “Deadly Exchange” conspiracy theory was featured during CNN’s United Shades of America “Policing the Police” episode on Sunday, May 2, 2021. The “Deadly Exchange” campaign falsely blames Israel and American Jewish organizations for racism and police brutality in the United States, distracting from the primary causes of these injustices, inflaming prejudice against Jews and Israel, and dividing communities that otherwise agree on these important matters. We note that in the span of a 30 second interview clip, the woman discussing “Deadly Exchange” also accuses Israel of other politically charged and controversial issues. However, given the dangers involved in promoting “Deadly Exchange” through your programming, this letter focuses solely on this matter.
“Deadly Exchange” is part of the larger antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks not to change Israeli policies, but to isolate and pressure Israel until it collapses as a Jewish and democratic state. As such, this campaign fuels injustice and conflict based on lies rather than helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a just and lasting peace.
This campaign targets law enforcement exchange programs between the United States and Israel with false accusations. This does nothing to end injustices; rather it promotes ignorance, hatred, and division. Law enforcement officials who go to Israel do so to learn about stopping terrorist attacks and saving lives. Considering that Israel is constantly under the threat of terrorist attacks, their expertise on matters like mass shootings and other extremist attacks facing the United States is invaluable. In fact, The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and Georgia Council on American Indian Concerns have expressed support for these exchanges with Israel, rejecting the flagrantly false claims within the “Deadly Exchange” campaign.
Even though there are police exchanges with many different countries, the “Deadly Exchange” campaign targets and smears the world’s only Jewish state, Israel. Falsely blaming Jews for societal injustices is classic antisemitism, which has sewn division on college campuses and spawned violence against Jewish communities here in the United States and around the world. For example, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a national campus organization with a well-documented history of espousing hate and divisiveness on campuses, was awarded Tufts University’s Collaboration Award in 2020 based on its collaboration for “Deadly Exchange.” SJP and other anti-Israel activists at Tufts have latched on to this antisemitic campaign since the spring 2018 semester to further divide Jewish, Israeli and Zionist students from the rest of the campus community. Anti-Israel groups like SJP cannot name a single person who was killed because of these police exchanges, precisely because no such evidence exists. However, there is evidence that the antisemitic conspiracy theory promoted by “Deadly Exchange” helped influence the shooter who murdered Jews in a New Jersey deli in December 2019.
Including the “Deadly Exchange” campaign in nationally televised programming only prolongs this antisemitic conspiracy theory and further spreads hateful biases about Israel and Jewish people throughout the world. I ask that you 1) issue a statement at the beginning of the next United Shades of America episode explaining the falsehoods as they pertain to the “Deadly Exchange” campaign in the “Policing the Police” episode, and 2) remove the relevant portion about the “Deadly Exchange” campaign from the “Policing the Police” episode so that it no longer appears in this episode, including in any rerun or archived versions.
Included with this letter is a fact sheet with relevant information about the “Deadly Exchange” campaign and the dangers of fueling this antisemitic lie. As an education organization, StandWithUs is happy to offer education and training and consult with you to ensure accuracy about this matter in future programming.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue. I look forward to your response by Friday, May 14, 2021.
CEO and Co-Founder
W. Kamau Bell