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Boycott Calls Against Israel
[Weizmann Inst.] Kobi Snitz's letter to the Presbyterian Church calling to divest
19.06.14
Editorial Note
 
Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute) was one of co-founders - together with a number of radical faculty - of Boycott from Within! The group worked in tandem with Omar Barghouti's PACBI to organize boycott initiatives against Israel.  

Following the 2011 Knesset law against BDS weakened the ranks of Israeli boycott supporters. But Kobi Snitz, a self described anarchist involved with Anarchists Against the Wall is not deterred. To the contrary, as BDS activity has increased, so has Snitz's involvement and his profile.  IAM recently reported on his travel to Canada to promote boycott.
 
His latest effort pertains to the Presbyterian Church USA. As well known, the General Assembly of the Church is meeting this week in Detroit to vote on a BDS resolution. Jewish American groups and Israel are watching the proceedings anxiously, as last year a similar resolution failed by a small margin. There is a virtual consensus that much is at stake, because of the high profile of the Presbyterian Church in American politics and society.
 
On the other side of the divide is Snitz who wrote an open letter titled  "An Israeli letter to the Presbyterian General Assembly."  Snitz is clearly trying to encourage those who may have qualms about voting against Israel. "Palestinians’ land is continually stolen and their rights denied, and Israelis suffer too by being condemned to perpetual conflict. Please make your church a leader in setting moral standards — not simply by issuing statements but in actually refusing to profit financially from the occupation. We will be with you in spirit as you deliberate in Detroit. Please remember our voices and have no fear in following your conscience."
 
Snitz has been also active in a call to boycott international academic conference - The Oral History conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and there is also a call to boycott the Cinema and TV Studies conference at Tel Aviv University.  As the organizers of the boycott boasted, some key foreign participants dropped out, leaving mostly local speakers. 
 
On a number of occasions Snitz reflected on his duties as an anarchist to challenge the state and its institution.  Like many radical faculty, Snitz can mount these challenges from a financially secure academic position that, as noted before, imposes only minimal research demands on his time in what is otherwise a highly competitive and demanding publication environment. 

It is not clear why the Weizmann  Institute authorities allow Snitz to continue his time consuming anarchists activities at the expanse of the taxpayer.  It is even less clear why the state tolerate his open defiance, which send the message that academics are above the law.




An Israeli letter to the Presbyterian General Assembly

Dear friends in the Presbyterian Church (USA),

I am an Israeli Jew living in Tel Aviv. I will not be able to be present with you in Detroit this coming week. I volunteer my opinion with the hope that it may be of assistance to you as you make difficult decisions. I wanted to tell you that your church’s divesting would be a much-welcomed help for us Israelis and Palestinians struggling here for justice and peace. It would send a clear signal that the church does not approve of the ongoing Israeli occupation. I believe that such a signal would be heard by Israeli policy-makers and, most importantly, by Palestinians who have been forced to live under a nearly 50-year-old occupation that denies them their basic rights.

Unlike what you might have heard, opposition to settlements is very prevalent in Israel. Like me, many other Israelis would welcome divestment from companies involved in the occupation. Those who would oppose this most principled resolution in the name of Israel or even in the name of Jews have no right to do so. They do not represent me and they misrepresent the nature of this resolution.

Some of them are attempting to counter this campaign for justice and equality by claiming that we need reconciliation, not divestment. But, as was the case with South African reconciliation efforts, these can only succeed once the peoples are free to engage as equals. They are futile amidst a system that places one population in control of the other. Once the systems of discrimination and destruction are no longer in place, the door opens to genuine coexistence. Divestment helps to open that door.

Today, Palestinians’ land is continually stolen and their rights denied, and Israelis suffer too by being condemned to perpetual conflict. Please make your church a leader in setting moral standards — not simply by issuing statements but in actually refusing to profit financially from the occupation. We will be with you in spirit as you deliberate in Detroit. Please remember our voices and have no fear in following your conscience.

With hope,

Kobi Snitz
Tel Aviv, Israel

June 11th, 2014



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