Cultural Competence in Police

2016 – What a Year!

As we jump head-first into 2017, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on 2016, and what a year it’s been! Overall, a year of unprecedented growth and development, and we can’t wait to get started in 2017. Here are some highlights:

Cultural Competence

  • The Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference in May 2016, organized jointly by the JICC and the Jerusalem Foundation as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, was a turning point for the JICC. Attended by hundreds of professionals, from Jerusalem and throughout Israel, the conference presented strides that have been made over the past 10 years, and set the stage for the next step of meeting diverse residents’ diverse needs, in all areas of life.
  • Continued work in the health care system, in Jerusalem and as a model throughout Israel, training in-house coordinators and facilitators to increase sustainability and adaptability within individual institutions. For the first time, work included a national network of hospitals and clinics.
  • Expansive work in the Israel Police Force, reaching most police stations and present and future commanding officials, and continuing to expand training in 2017.
  • Groundbreaking work with the National Insurance Institute (NII), East Jerusalem branch, the first NII branch in the country to undergo a process of cultural competence.
  • In the Jerusalem Municipality, the entire Community Services Administration, which includes welfare, public health, immigrant absorption, and more, is undergoing training, as well as the Auditor’s Office which will be able to look at the entire Municipality’s operations through the prism of cultural competency and sensitivity.
  • Santé Israël, the first web site to make Israel’s health care system accessible to French speakers, celebrated its first birthday. 
Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker

Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker, Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference

Paramedical Professionals

Making healthcare practitioner exams accessible to Arab residents of east Jerusalem

2016 was an important year for us to take stock of the past four years of this program. Our conclusions show that:

  • The number of certified Arab paramedical professionals in East Jerusalem has grown significantly.
  • The program has enabled the JICC to more clearly map the situation of different paramedical professions in east Jerusalem, contributing to the knowledge of training in the Jerusalem area.
  • The awareness both among Palestinian institutes of higher education and health care institutions in east Jerusalem as well as Israeli Ministry of Health has been raised significantly.
  • A large window of opportunity for Arab women paramedical professionals to improve economic opportunities has been opened.

Nurses studying to pass their Israeli certification examinations

Talking Coexistence – Arabic Language Instruction

Both 2015 – 2016 and 2016 – 2017 broke enrollment records. In 2015-16 there were 180 students in 12 classes, over 5 levels. In 2016-2017, there are 240 students in 16 classes, also over 5 levels. We also held several cultural evenings to enrich students’ understanding of Arabic culture. Here’s a short video about the program:

Atta’a Assistance Center for the Rights of East Jerusalem Residents

The Atta’a Center has been in existence since 2004, and in 2015 it came under the aegis of the JICC. In 2016 we have seen:

  • 70% growth in number of requests
  • Ballooning of its Facebook page to over 7,100 ‘likes,’ and launching of its web site.
  • Publication of a widely-referenced booklet on the Ministry of Interior
  • Expansion of network of partners in action, both from NGO’s and advocacy groups as well as municipal and government agencies.

Atta’a Presenting workshops

MiniActive for Arab Residents of East Jerusalem

  • For the first time ever, MiniActive activities led to a change in policy. After months of campaigning, MiniActive led the way toward the addition of 3 million NIS to the annual municipal sanitation budget for east Jerusalem, and 16 million NIS for the purchase of additional equipment for sanitation. As a result of this work, the entire Municipality is focusing their attention on garbage collection throughout
  • In January 2016, MiniActive organized the first ever Arabic language Horticulture Therapy course in Jerusalem for special education teachers, in cooperation with the David Yellin Academic College of Education.
  • Bus stops in entire neighborhoods were repaired and replaced, thanks to MiniActive.
  • 210 women – including 50 youth – are studying Hebrew through a volunteer NGO to improve the effectivity of their activism. This is a record-breaking number, which broke last year’s record of 150 women.
  • In MiniActive Youth for the Environment, teenage girls learn leadership skills while participating in major environment-improving public art and other projects in neighborhoods throughout east Jerusalem.
  • MiniActive became a model for international work, hosting a delegation that works with the Roma population in the Czech Republic in November 2016.

Take a look at MiniActive’s own year in review. It’s pretty easy to understand, even if you don’t know Arabic:

Emergency Readiness Networks

In 2016 we expanded the network to include 14 communities throughout Jerusalem. In addition to training new volunteers, the program included training of existing networks to maintain ability to respond and increase sustainability.

Planning on map

Planning strategy on map

Multicultural Participatory Democracy

In 2016 we mentored community center staffs in Gilo, Kiryat Menachem, Givat Messuah, Baka’a and south Talpiot. For the first time, residents – especially the Ethiopian community in Kiryat Menachem and the highly diverse community of south Talpiot –felt that they were able to influence issues that affected their everyday lives. Training included using Facebook as a community-building tool key to increasing residents’ engagement in community processes.

Writing and submitting objections

Writing and submitting objections in Gilo

Promoting Tolerance in the Public Sphere

Since the summer of 2014 the JICC have been at the forefront of promoting tolerance in Jerusalem. 2016 accomplishments include:

  • A Different Day in Jerusalem celebrated Jerusalem’s diversity through 50 coordinated events, affecting tens of thousands of people on Jerusalem Day. It was the first time such a broad effort has been made to celebrate Jerusalem’s diversity.
  • JICC-mentored Speaking in the Square and other tolerance initiatives that came in their wake led to the redesigning of Zion Square, to be called Tolerance Square. The initiative’s Effective Dialogue methodology spread, and is now being presented in national frameworks.
  • 0202-Points of View from Jerusalem are now liked by nearly 80,000 people and reach some 150,000 people weekly on Facebook and the Internet. The network now includes pages that translate from Arabic to Hebrew, from Arabic to English and one which brings news from the Ultra-Orthodox world to the awareness of the general population.
  • The JICC was asked to be one of the leading organizations in the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations to Promote Tolerance, formed by the Center for Young Adults and the Municipality’s Young Authority.
  • The JICC is continuing to develop Tolerance Network Teams (TNT’s), a series of neighborhood-based and theme-based grassroots initiatives that seek to advance tolerance in Jerusalem.
Elhanan Miller Haaretz article

Haaretz article about A Different Day in Jerusalem

Window to Mount Zion

Since October 2015, Window to Mount Zion has bridged inter-religious and inter-community gaps that have festered between Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups for centuries. As a result of its activity over the past year:

  • In unheard-of cooperation, religious Jewish and Christian groups have issued joint statements condemning hate crimes on Mount Zion.
  • Christian ceremonies, which in the past have caused inter-religious tension, proceeded without incident.
  • The celebration of Christian and Jewish holidays that coincided simultaneously, which in the past had been the source of conflict and tension, also proceeded smoothly.
Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Asylum Seekers

The JICC, together with the Jerusalem Municipality, sponsor the only paid public servant in Israel to help asylum seekers, outside of Tel Aviv. We are also part of a consortium of organizations and agencies that seek to meet the needs of asylum seekers living in the city.

Tour of Nahlaot neighborhood

Families of asylum seekers on tour of Nahlaot neighborhood

Thank You!

Many many thanks go out to our partners in action and our donors. You can read about our activities in more detail either by clicking on the hyperlinks above, or by clicking here.

Looking forward to making 2017 even better!

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System-wide Cultural Competency Training for Israel Police

It might just be our largest – and most wide-ranging – project in Cultural Competency to date. This September, we, together with Mosaica – The Center for Conflict Resolution by Agreement, were tasked – by the Police Force Education Unit, under directive from the Minister of Internal Security and the national Police Commissioner, (!) – with providing 200 cultural competency training  workshops in five out of the seven police regions throughout Israel. When finished, the project will reach most of the tens of thousands of police officers and commanders throughout the country. This process began at the beginning of September and will run through December.

Police in training course

Police in training course

The directive is a direct result of our ongoing work with the police force and its Education Unit, which began last year.  You can read about this previous work with the Israel Police Force, with both officers and trainees, at the National Police Academy and at different police stations, here and here. Indeed, the Israel police force realizes that having culturally competent and culturally sensitive officers can improve their professionalism and their ability to resolve incidents more quickly, more effectively, and hopefully, with less violence.

But this training marathon was on an entirely different scale. Our first step was to hold a 3-day ‘train the trainers’ workshop for the 30 professional facilitators, social workers, community mediators, and more. Their job has been to facilitate the training seminars in police stations throughout the country.

In our work we’ve found that there is already a massive amount of knowledge and awareness of cultural competence and sensitivity – both intuitive and learned – across the different layers, different branches and different locations of the police. One of the main goals of our work with the police is to utilize the knowledge and experience that already exists and teach it in a structured way so that it can become even more widespread, standard practice throughout the 35,000-strong police force.

Much of the 5-hour introductory training taught through case studies. Here is one, from northern Jerusalem:

During the Muslim month of Ramadan, border police noticed a marked increase in violent behavior by Palestinians going through the checkpoints. This was unusual, since Ramadan is a happy time, and even charged places such as a police checkpoint are usually affected (positively) by the month-long holiday. In response, officers from the border police held a meeting with local Muslim leaders, to try and get to the bottom of the problem. The leaders noted that this year, the border police were using police dogs as part of their routine checks, and that there was a special sensitivity to these dogs, especially since the people were hurrying to the Mosque. The border police stopped using the dogs, and the situation was much calmer at the checkpoints.

At other times, case studies are used to spark discussion:

A man of Ethiopian descent calls the police hotline, “Help! Someone left a sunny-side-up egg outside my door!” (This means he’s been threatened with murder.) What do you do? How do you respond?

An ultra-Orthodox woman calls the police hotline, complaining of domestic violence. The patrol that is closest includes a female officer, who is supposed to confront the ultra-Orthodox man. How should this be handled most effectively?

Each station focused on a particular population group, often one with which they have specific contact. Thus, for example, one station in the Jerusalem city center chose to focus on the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish population. Another, in northern Jerusalem, focused on the Palestinian population. (We’d worked with them before, and then they’d undergone a special workshop on the Ethiopian-Israeli population, since there is a large concentration there.) A station in Natanya focused on French-speakers.

Learning the principles of cultural competency

Learning the principles of cultural competency

In addition to the standard workshop content we also invited expert lecturers to provide a more in-depth understanding. For example, in Natanya the director of the Elem organization, himself a native French-speaker, was brought in to speak about the Francophone youth in the city, their approaches toward the police, and ideas of how to improve connections with the police in order to improve the public order.

We understand the challenge of integrating these principles into the everyday work of tens of thousands of police officers who face a myriad of complex situations every day. But we’re excited to be part of the process.

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Our Cultural Competency Training for Police Makes Walla! News Site

Did you hear about the time when the police came into an tempestuous situation involving Ethiopians/Haredim/Arabs, and they succeeded in calming the waters, without incident and without anyone getting hurt?

Not usually your top headline. However, that is what we, together with the Israel Police Force, are striving for. We’ve been working with the Police over the past year to instill principles of cultural competency into the everyday training. You can read about this work with both officers and trainees, at the National Police Academy and at different police stations, here and here.

Recently, this ongoing training was covered by Walla! news in Hebrew, a major Internet news site in Israel. Click here to for the link to the entire article and accompanying video in Hebrew.  Click here to view a PDF version of the article.

Walla article

Walla article

How will this training affect police officers’ responses to everyday incidents? David Shoshan, one of the officers in the training course, noted in the video above, that:

The training basically opened my eyes to the different populations we serve. That, when we’re called to an incident, I might need to act a little differently, try to respect the people’s particular customs. Our main goal is to try to ensure that the incident is over as quickly as possible, that it’s been dealt with in the most professional manner as possible, in the calmest way possible, so that we can do our jobs as best as possible.

Thanks David. Let’s hope the other tens of thousands of police officers throughout Israel were paying attention as well.

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JICC Completes Training Course for Police Commanders

What is it like to be a police officer, and be responsible for keeping order and enforcing the law?

Police officers everywhere are on the front lines of law enforcement, bringing them into contact with a vast diversity of people. All too often, as we’ve recently seen in the USA as well as in Israel, events can get out of hand very quickly.

Protesting police treatment in Israel

Protesting police treatment in Israel July 3, 2016

The Israel Police understands the complexities of working with Israel’s different – and sometimes conflicting – population groups, and for the past year we at the JICC have been working with various ranks and groups in cultural competency training.

Israel police officers

Israel police officers

Last week we finished a course for police officials at the National Police Academy. The 50 course graduates, Superintendents and Chief Superintendents, represent the next generation of commanding officers in the Israel Police. Each will command soon a police station or a large police unit. The JICC has been mentoring the course for the past six months, from introducing them to the concept, to integrating cultural competency into different areas of the training course, and in writing a module in the unit commander’s file – on how to operate a culturally competent unit. We, together with the course participants, edited the comprehensive file. In the summary meeting of the course that was held with the Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, the entire course’s work was presented. This included recommendations and tools on how to manage and operate a culturally competent police unit. The JICC, together with the officers of the course and the staff of the National Police Academy, will continue to work to advance the use of these recommendations within the Israel Police.

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Can Israel’s Police Force Become Culturally Competent?

The news is full of stories of the police’s treatment – appropriate or not – of civilians. Just recently Americans marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting of a young, black, unarmed man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, USA, which led to riots and civil unrest for some time.  In May of this year Israeli police officer were shown beating a soldier of Ethiopian descent, which led to a wave of demonstrations of the Ethiopian community in Israel, and unrest in the streets.

Israel’s police force – and any police force – are under constant and almost unbearable pressure to keep law and order, working among a vastly diverse population. Educators in the Israeli Police Force recognized this complexity, and requested to begin working with us to develop a cultural competency training module for police cadets. To their credit, planning work actually began before relations between the police and the Ethiopian community made headlines. But the light shown on the police during the full-force demonstrations of the Ethiopian community this spring underlined the necessity of this kind of training. As a result, we began to working with all new police cadets, as part of their 14-week basic training course. At the same time, we are beginning an in-depth process with 23 police stations throughout the country.

At this first stage we are implementing introductory workshops to different training courses – basic policing, detectives, border police, cavalry, advanced policing – all are undergoing the basic 1 1/2 hour workshop. Since the beginning of June we’ve held 40 seminars, with 20 – 30 police cadets in each group. That’s  already 1,200 cadets! After this, we will be organizing a Train the Trainers course for the regular instructors in the police academy, so the principles can be fully integrated into their training regimen.

More in-depth processes will be taking place in 26 police stations throughout the country that have high concentrations of Israelis of Ethiopian descent, including two in Jerusalem, Moriah in the south and Shufat in the north. In this process we are partnering together with the Gishurim project. The first step of this process will be a half-day seminar on cultural competency, using facilitators that we’ve trained. We will begin training the facilitators in September; they will then lead 150 seminars throughout the country.

And what do the police think about these training sessions? We’re finding that many, especially Jerusalemites, are already very in-tuned to the cultural complexities of our city, and make every effort to consider the effects that cultural sensitivity has on the residents with whom they come into contact. We are honored to be part of a process that seeks to bring law and order to all residents of the city.

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