Sheriff Ron Spike had the great opportunity to visit Israel for the 2012 Law Enforcement Homeland Security Educational Seminar sponsored by the American Israel Educational Foundation (AIEF). The sponsor covered all expenses for the 21 attendees. Sheriff Spike was chosen by the leadership of the National Sheriffs’ Association to attend along with 14 other Sheriffs; he was the only participant from New York State. Others attending included NSA President Paul Fitzgerald, 1st VP Larry Amerson, and 2nd VP Mike Liedholt. The group was accompanied by Dr. Gregg Rickman of AIPAC from Washington DC.
While in Isreal, the group traveled mostly is a private bus and were guarded at all times by 2 or 3 armed plain clothes guards. They visited religious historical sites in Jerusalem: the Wailing Wall, old City of David, the Holy Basin, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (site of the crucifixion). They visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, as well as Police Headquarters in Jerusalem, Old City, and other towns.
“I was at Port of Jaffa on the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Galilee, the site of the Sermon on the Mount, and Masada National Monument,” Sheriff Spike said. “ I swam in the Dead Sea, or floated, I should say.”
The group visited the major prison at Rimonim to observe operations, saw the Masada CERT team training, observed large shopping mall security at Azrieli Mall, learned about their airport security and special equipment at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, and received daily lectures from law enforcement and other officials including the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Mark Regev, and retired army generals and researchers on suicide bombers.
“I saw remains of rockets fired from Gaza into the City of Siderot at their police station, saw the boarders with Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, where I rode an ATV thru a mine field to the border and UN station),” Sheriff Spike said. “In the West Bank areas, including the Golan Heights, we saw an army tank brigade. We also we got to go to a regular family’s home and dine with them.”
“The day I returned to the US, I attended the wedding of a close friend of our daughter. Sitting in the large Catholic Church in Canandaigua, NY, looking at the many stained glass windows depicting scenes from the life of Jesus, I could relate to actually visiting many of those locations. It had a profound impact on me,” said Sheriff Spike. “Armed with the knowledge from our tour guide (one the smartest men I have ever met) I sat there in this church as if seeing it for the first time. To have just been where Jesus walked and where his cross was placed for his crucifixion, where he was laid out on the stone of unction, where he gave the sermon on the mount, where he lived with Peter in Capernaum, etc does have an effect on you.“
“But while parts of Israel are ancient, the people are educated and contemporary. Israel and the USA have many common values that Israel's neighbors, especially the radicals, will never understand. It was clear to me that military threats are real and unstable and that security fences only go so far,” Sheriff Spike said.
“In 2004 President George W. Bush said “Israel and the United States share a common history: We are both nations born of struggle and sacrifice. We are both founded by immigrants escaping religious persecution in other lands. Through the labors and strides of generations, we have both built vibrant democracies, founded in the rule of law and market economies. And we are both countries established with certain basic beliefs: that God watches over the affairs of men and values every human life.” That says it all to me as far as the USA relations go,” he said.
What a wonderful opportunity bestowed on me because of my affiliation with the National Sheriffs Association. I took many photos and hope to put together a power point program to present at the Summer Conference.