The Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) was founded nearly 30 years ago as a joint project of Georgia State University (GSU) and local law enforcement community. During its existence, the program has sought to professionally and responsibly equip police for serving and protecting the public. It recently conducted its annual peer-to-peer executive training program, a program comprised of public safety leadership training between American and Israeli law enforcement officers. Officers from Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina, and Tennessee participated in this year's program.
The program has been recognized by local, national, and international law enforcement agencies and governments for making significant contributions to public safety and professional development. But it's GILEE's association with Israel that has raised the hackles of leaders at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) [see editor's note].
CAIR: Israel is the problem
On July 19, CAIR's Georgia chapter and national office announced during an Atlanta press conference its release of "a report documenting anti-Muslim bigotry in [GILEE] and formally designates the private training organization as an Islamophobic group."
The report contends that GILEE training "perpetuates police militarization and brutality," "engages in training with oppressive foreign governments," and has a "history of bigotry, including anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia."
In a press release, Edward Ahmed Mitchell – an attorney and former journalist who is now national deputy director for CAIR – called upon Georgia's state and law enforcement agencies to "cut ties with GILEE, reject its anti-Muslim propaganda, and stop training with foreign governments that violate human rights."
"GILEE is part of the problem with policing in America, not the solution," Mitchell also stated.
There was pushback to CAIR's accusations. In a July 25 opinion piece, Steven Emerson highlighted the exchange program being targeted by CAIR-Georgia. According to Emerson, the founder and executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, CAIR-Georgia's objective was to "smear the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange, because GILEE takes American police leaders to Israel." Emerson also pointed out the report was an older document, having been originally produced in 2019.
GILEE's stated mission "shapes police executive leadership development through global engagement by investing in an exceptional peer-to-peer experiential learning environment, [and] enhances public safety by sharing best practices of homeland security and community policing with emphasis on the protection of civil rights and liberties."
Report 'recycled' … and objections 'ridiculous'
American Family News spoke to Dr. Robert Friedmann, founding director of GILEE. Actions taken by CAIR-Georgia against GILEE, he says, "[have] to do with their attempt to nullify and eliminate that which doesn't match their agenda."
The GSU professor emeritus of criminal justice also suggests the 2019 report was "recycled" for this action against GILEE "because there is a new president at GSU and [CAIR-Georgia] thought that it might be good to bring this to his attention, hoping it would help shut the program down."
To Friedmann, it's nothing more than a "smear campaign" and an effort to propagate "a notion of Islamophobia." He deems each of CAIR-Georgia's objections to the program to be "simply ridiculous."
"There's no good word they can say about Israel," Friedmann tells AFN, adding "there's no good word they can say about GILEE." He also argues that if the law enforcement development program had nothing to do with Israel, "they would not have squeaked a peep; they would not have said anything." In fact, he points out there are no complaints about any of the other countries with which the program partners.
"While GILEE tries to provide better police services to communities around the world," Friedmann says, "some [groups] are focused on annihilating and eliminating our work with Israel."
Editor's note: In October 2010, CAIR was identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in the nation's largest terror finance trial, which involved the terrorist organization Hamas.