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The making of a new celeb: Anarchist Kobi Snitz, professor of mathematics, Technion, chose 20 days in prison instead of paying 2000 NIS fine
Just a few days ago I.A.M. posted the following letter by Kobi Snitz,  who chose 20 days in prison instead of paying a NIS2000 fine for interfering with a military order to demolish (an illegally built??) Palestinian home in the village of Kharbatha, near Ramallah.  (Snitz is also on record for having called in 2008 for a boycott of Israel. (See copy of that letter below.))
    Below also Snitz's recent letter which was translated into various languages and circulated widely on the internet. Haaretz(!) wrote in Hebrew about the "difficulties" Snitz has faced in prison because he is a vegan. Amira Hass wrote about Snitz in an Italian newspaper and mentioned her friend (Tel Aviv University, professor of Philosophy) Anat Matar, who tried to convince Hass to join her at Bil'in for a demonstration against the security fence.
    A point worth pondering: Professor Matar's continuing readiness to leap to the defense of Snitz is consistent with her long record of anti-Israel activity. Speaking of anti-Israel radical activists, this latest involvement by the veteran Tel Aviv University faculty member coincides with that institution's pround announcement that in a recent international survey it  had retained its ranking as 114th among the best universities of the world. Perhaps TAU should consider the damage anti-Israel radical activism does to its vaunted academic reputation.
 
 
 
 
(Photo of Snitz in one of the anti-wall demonstrations: http://news.walla.co.il/?w=//1166331/370161/5/@@/media)
 
[againstwall] a short prison term
Monday, 21 September, 2009 1:29:52
From: Kobi Snitz ksnitz@gmail.com
To: againstwall
   
Dear all,

tomorrow I will start a 20 day prison term. It is a result of an attempt to prevent a house demolition in kharbatha. As you probably know 20 days is nothing compared to the time many Palestinian teenagers have to do. Unlike them, I did not have to do this. I refused to pay a fine and was therefore sent to jail.

throughout the long trial I had other opportunities to avoid prison but could not bring myself to admit guilt in any way or accept the sentence given me. I and the others who were arrested with me are guilty of nothing except not doing more to oppose the truly criminal policies of the state. To be forced to say otherwise is as demeaning as it is untrue. Compared to it 20 days in jail are a small price to pay.

The legal team headed by Gaby has been excellent as always and thanks also to Nir and Alon from Bimkom who supplied information about planning policies and regulations.

no pasaran!

kobi.

 

 =============================================================================================================

Amira Hass writes every week on "Internazionale" (www.internazionale.it) an italian weekly magazine that takes article from a lot of newspaper of the world and traslate it.
This week she wrote:
(english translation follows original in italian)

Venerdì verrai alla manifestazione di Bil’in contro il muro?”, ha chiesto la mia amica Anat, professoressa di filosofia appena tornata da un periodo sabbatico in Francia. Non ci vedevamo da dieci mesi. Mi sono scusata spiegando: “Ho paura”. Ed era vero. Evidentemente ho esaurito la mia dose di coraggio. Non ce la faccio più ad affrontare soldati che sparano (anche se solo gas lacrimogeni e pallottole di gomma). Anat ha cercato di convincermi: a Ni’ilin, un villaggio vicino, sì che è pericoloso, ma a Bil’in ci sono posti dove nascondersi.
Il figlio di Anat (che si è fatto due anni di carcere per aver rifiutato la leva) è uno di quegli israeliani che partecipano attivamente alla lotta contro l’occupazione, insieme agli attivisti palestinesi.
Di recente uno di questi israeliani – Kobi Snitz, professore di matematica – mi ha raccontato di un’altra forma di repressione: raid militari notturni settimanali contro i due villaggi che continuano a opporsi al muro, arresti continui e processi farsa davanti al tribunale militare. Pensavo di occuparmene la prossima settimana, ma ho saputo che non potrò incontrare Kobi, perché il 22 settembre è stato condannato aventi giorni di carcere. Da alcuni anni era sotto processo per aver cercato, nel 2004, di impedire ai soldati di demolire una casa nel villaggio palestinese di Kharbath.
Prima di entrare in prigione ha scritto agli amici: “Venti giorni sono poca cosa rispetto alle condanne inflitte a molti palestinesi. Mi hanno messo in prigione perché ho rifiutato di pagare una multa. Durante il processo ho avuto altre opportunità di evitare il carcere, ma non ho accettato compromessi. Io e gli altri arrestati non siamo colpevoli di niente, se non di aver fatto troppo poco per opporci alle politiche criminali del governo. L’équipe legale guidata dall’avvocato Gaby ha fatto un ottimo lavoro e voglio ringraziare anche Nir e Alon di Bimkom (un gruppo di architetti israeliani che chiede l’uguaglianza nella pianificazione urbanistica).
No pasaran


English:

Friday you will come to the demonstration of Bil'in  against the wall? "asked my friend Anat, professor of philosophy just returned from a sabbatical period in France. We didn't meet for ten months. I apologized explaining: "I'm afraid." And it was true. Evidently I have finished my amount of courage. I can't anymore  stand and face the soldiers who shoot (even if only tear gas and rubber bullets). Anat has tried to convince me: Ni'ilin, a nearby village, it's dangerous, but in  Bil'in there are places to hide. The son of Anath (which made two years in jail for refusing to serve the army) is one of those Israelis participating actively in the fight against the occupation, togheter with Palestinian activists.
Recently one of them - Kobi Snitz, a professor of mathematics - told me another form of repression: night military raids every week against the two villages
that continue to oppose the wall, arrests and show trials in front of  the military court. I thought to work on it  next week but I learned that I can't meet Kobi,
since September 22 has been sentenced to twenty days' imprisonment. For several years it was under process for attempting in 2004 to prevent soldiers to demolish a house in the Palestinian village Kharbath.
Before entering prison, he wrote to friends: "Twenty days is nothing compared to sentencing of many Palestinians. They put me in prison because I refused to pay fine. During the process I had other opportunity to avoid prison, but I didn't acept any compromises. I and the others arrested we are not guilty of anything, except that we haven't done enough to oppose the criminal policies of the government. The legal team led Advocate Gaby did a great job and
I want to thank Nir Alon and Bimkom (a group of Israeli architects seeking equality in urban planning).
No pasaran
--
it was great to see that this notice arrived till here, till my friends and that when you are sitted in your bathroom you can suddenly remember what is heppening in israel/palesitne
NO PASARAN

 

30/9/2009
Profesor y activista israelí a prisión por oponerse a demolición de viviendas palestinas 

x Ivan Vanney

Desde Israel.- Desde las ultimas elecciones en Israel la represion contra objetores de conciencia, activistas y la poblacion arabe se ha incrementado considerablemente, acentuando la represion politica de disidentes humanistas y reforzando el dialogo favorable con los enclaves coloniales de Cisjordania y su liderazgo, una nueva alianza entre el gobierno mayormente representado por Netanyau, Liebrman y los colonos decrece cualquier posibilidad de un acuerdo o cese de fuego mientras prohiben y castigan cualquier expresion de cultura palestina, como la conmemoracion del dia Nakba (el desastre), la supresion de textos en libros escolares, etc.

Asi como describia Lieberman en su libro, del cual no pienso citar titulo, la necesidad de Israel de un (ni 2 ni 3) lider capaz de afrontar los desafios de los enemigos del estado y la comunidad internacional, el nuevo gobierno no encuentra razones para rendir cuentas, ya ni siquiera al cuarteto integrado por Estados Unidos, la Union Europea, Naciones Unidas y Rusia, expandiendo los asentamientos abiertamente y centrandose principalmente en esta politica que tambien se ha extendido a Jerusalen del Este, acelerandose su desarrollo en los ultimos meses.

Para Kobi Snitz, profesor del Technion y activista en Anarquistas Contra el Muro este panomara es cotidiano, el y sus compañeros casi a diario lo combaten a pesar del incremento de la criminalizacion de las expresiones politicas y brutalidad policial/militar.

Recientemente Kobi ha sido condendo a prision tras un largo juicio en el cual se nego a reconocer la culpabilidad de haber intentado evitar que un hogar perteneciente a una familia palestina sea demolido por el Ejercito de Defensa de Israel.

A continuacion les adjunto la carta que Kobi nos envio:

 

Amigos:

Mañana comenzare mi sentencia de 20 dias en prision como resultado del intento de evitar la demolicion de un hogar en Kharbatha. Como probablemente saben 20 dias no son nada en comparacion con el tiempo que muchos adolescentes palestinos deben cumplir. A diferencia de ellos yo no tendria tampoco que hacerlo, me rehuse a pagar una multa y como consecuencia fui enviado a prision.

Durante el largo juicio he tenido otras oportunidades de evitar la pision pero no he podido admitir culpabilidad de ningna manera o aceptar el castigo impuesto. Yo y los companeros que fueron arrestados conmigo no somos culpables de nada excepto de no hacer mas contra las verdaderas politicas criminales del Estado. Ser forzado a decir lo contrario es tan degradante como falso. En comparacion a esto 20 dias en prision son un bajo precio que pagar.

El equipo legal encabezado por Gaby Lansky ha sido excelente como siempre, tambien agradezco a Nir y Alon de Bimkom quienes proporcionaron informacion sobre planes de politicas y regulaciones.

No pasaran!

Kobi.

Para actualizaciones sobre la detencion de Kobi y otros detenidos pueden visitar la pagina http://www.awalls.org

 

 

Lettre de Kobi SNITZ, israélien en prison, pour s’être opposé à la démolition d’une maison palestinienne
Kobi, militant anarchiste israélien, vient de prendre une peine de 20 jours de prison pour avoir refusé de payer une amende et de plaider coupable, après s’être opposé à la démolition d’une maison palestinienne par l’armée israélienne. Ci-dessous sa lettre.

Chers amis,

Demain, j’entamerai une peine de 20 jours de prison parce que j’ai tenté d’empêcher la destruction d’une maison à Kharbathat. Comme vous le savez, 20 jours ce n’est rien en comparaison des peines infligées à de nombreux adolescents palestiniens. Contrairement à eux, j’aurais même pu éviter la prison en payant une amende, ce que j’ai refusé de faire.

Au cours de mon long procès, j’ai d’ailleurs eu d’autres occasions d’éviter la prison, mais je n’ai pas voulu plaider coupable car, comme les autres qui ont été arrêtés avec moi, je ne suis coupable de rien, sinon de m’être opposé aux pratiques absolument criminelles de l’Etat.

Admettre le contraire serai avilissant et malhonnête. Et 20 jours en prison constituent n’est pas cher payer pour éviter cela.

L’équipe de juristes conduite par Gaby a été excellente, comme d’habitude, et merci encore à Nir et Alon de Bimkom, qui nous ont fourni les informations sur les mesures en cours.

No pasaran !

kobi.

Né en 1971, Kobiest professeur de mathématiques a l’université de Bar Ilan, à Tel Aviv. Il est l’un des animateurs de l’association Anarchistes contre le Mur.

Il se rend régulièrement dans les territoires palestiniens occupés de Cisjordanie, notamment pour lutter aux côtés des Palestiniens contre le mur qui ampute des villages palestiniens. Il explique que "Meme une dizaine d’Israéliens présents peuvent faire la différence quand l’armée s’apprête à tirer sur des manifestants, car elle a davantage de scrupules à utiliser certaines armes en présence d’Israéliens".

Kobi a fait ses études au Canada et aux Etats-Unis, où il a rejoint les mouvements anti-guerre contre l’agression de l’Irak, et participé à l’organisation des étudiants.

(Traduit par CAPJPO-EuroPalestine)

=======================================================================================
 

[againstwall] kobi update
Saturday, 26 September, 2009 13:36:56
From: AdAr Grayevsky
To: AATW
 
הי כולם
כרגע דיברתי עם קובי ארוכות, ושלומו טוב. מסתבר שיש לו יותר זמן מחוץ לתא ביום, כשעה וחצי בבוקר ושעה וחצי אחה"צ, וגם בתחום האוכל, למרות שאין לו עדיין אוכל טבעוני למהדרין, הוא מסתדר ממה שיש ואינו רעב. הוא כן ציין שהיום הביאו לכל הערבים חבילת שי מאבו מאזן עם תמרים ושמן זית, ורק קובי היהודי לא קיבל
ביום שלישי גבי צפויה לבקר אותו והיא תנסה להעביר לו כמה מאמרים ומכתבים, כך שאם מישהו רוצה לכתוב לו כמה שורות או יותר, הוא מוזמן לשלוח לי ואני אדפיס ואעביר לגבי
הוא מוסר דרישת שלום לכולם ותודה על התמיכה, ומדגיש שאין צורך להטריח את עצמנו ולכתוב מכתבים, רק מי שממש פנוי ובא לו
:)
אה, ואם יש למישהו עדכון על הטור באירופה, אנא עדכנו אותי כדי שאוכל לעדכן גם אותו
יום טוב
אדר
 
====================================================================================== 
 
מי שלא הצליח להפוך את הבעיה שלו לספקטאקל יכול רק לחלום שישימו לב אליו. כמו הדוגמה של קובי סניץ. קובי סניץ שייך לקבוצת "אנרכיסטים נגד הגדר". הלא מגולחים המייגעים האלה, שמפגינים בבילעין, בנעלין, בחרבתה, בכל המקומות האלה הנמצאים במרחק יריקה מהמרכז אבל רחוקים, רחוקים, מהתודעה הציבורית כמו סין. על פעילותו זו, סניץ מרצה עכשיו עונש מאסר בפועל. אבל יותר מגזר הדין הזה מרתיחה האדישות. זה לא נחשב סקסי מספיק כחדשות, ועל כן שום אמצעי תקשורת לא התייחס לכך שאזרח ישראלי, מרצה במתמטיקה, חובש עכשיו את בית האסורים לא על שום שרצח או גנב או מעל, אלא בגין פעילותו הפוליטית.

נכון, הוא הביא את זה על עצמו. לפי החוק אסור לישראלים להיות בבית המיועד להריסה בשטחים, בוודאי לא לעמוד בפני הדחפורים בבואם להרוס. בית המשפט גם נתן לו, לעקשן, כמה פתחי מילוט: להודות באשמה, לשלם קנס, והוא דחה את כולם. אבל עובדה היא עובדה: אזרח ישראלי יושב בכלא בשל דעותיו הפוליטיות, ושום מערכת חדשות של אף אמצעי תקשורת אינה סבורה שזה סיפור. ואמנם מה יש לספר כאן ומה יש להראות: תא בכלא? אולם של בית משפט ושופט רדום למחצה מכה בפטיש? כשיבוא יום וישתרש ההרגל לשלוח אנשים - מי יודע, אולי גם עיתונאים - למאסר על שום דעותיהם הפוליטיות, כבר יהיה מן הסתם מאוחר מכדי לעשות על כך אייטם טלוויזיוני, סקסי ככל שיהיה הסיפור.
 
=============================================================================================================
 
 
[againstwall] Kobi - Update
Tuesday, 22 September, 2009 19:42:22
From: Sarah A hybridscifi@gmail.com
 
Kobi called today.
He sounds alright and said that his roommates are ok.
He told me that 3 people (adults with no criminal record) can go visit him tomorrow.  His parents will go, and Shai also to bring him the books he asked for - and to get him some phone cards that can only be bought there.
I don't know if he will be allowed more visits.
As for vegan food, they asked him for a certificate of the vegan association - or something like this... anyway, apparently, Gaby will be able to fix this.
That is it - he did not have much time to talk.
======================================================================================================== 
IMEMC Jerusalem Correspondent, April 1, 2004-- Israeli soldiers reportedly shot live rounds and rubber-coated bullets at Palestinians and Israeli and international activists trying to prevent a housing demolition in Kharbatha near Ramallah, Thursday. The army demolished the home of a village leader and member of Fatah, Aziz Hassan Wahid, early Thursday and were trying to destroy the home of Mr Wahids brother, Muhammed, when five Israeli activists occupied the roof. Residents said the army gave no official warning to the family, who could only take a minimal amount of their possessions before one bulldozer and two backhoes destroyed the house. Muhammad Wahid is reportedly a member of the militant group Hamas and has been held in an Israel prison for the past two-and-a-half years. Aziz Wahids family wept outside their home while it was was demolished. Mr Wahids brother, Muhammad Erman Wahids home was also scheduled for demolition, but international and Israeli activists took position on top of the house, preventing the military from demolishing it. A spokesperson from the Israeli Civil Administration said both houses “had been built without the proper permits and was considered an“illegal construction�. A warrant was reportedly issued, the spokesperson said, and Mr Wahid “had the right to appeal after the process had gone through�. The army pulled out of the village early afternoon, but returned in greater numbers on hour later, firing live rounds, rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and stun grenades into the crowd. An IDF spokesperson said the demolition concerned the Civil Administration and was not an issue of security. At least twenty Israeli soldiers blocked off access to the home, preventing media from photographing the demolition. Kharbatha has been the site of major clashes between anti-barrier protestors and Israeli forces. The Supreme Court ruled the military could resume construction on the barrier in certain areas around Kharbatha from 2pm Sunday, until the courts reconvene after the Passover holiday.

There are pictures at this link:

http://amershani.com/galleries/palestine/house_demolitions
 
 
==============================================================================================================
http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/1118142.html
פורסם ב - 14:46 03/10/09
 
 
 
 
פעיל השמאל קובי סניץ שכלוא בכלא ניצן,
גילה שלהיות טבעוני זה לא חלק מהזכויות שלו
 
מאת נועה קושרק
 
פעיל השמאל קובי סניץ נשלח לכלא, ושם גילה
שלהיות טבעוני זה לא חלק מהזכויות שלו 
 
 
 
כבר יותר משבוע וחצי שקובי סניץ, בן 37, כלוא
בכלא ניצן, מבלי שהוא זוכה לתזונה הטבעונית
שעל פיה הוא חי. הסיבה לכך מקורית: לטענת
מקורביו, סניץ נדרש להציג אישור אודות
טבעונותו מ"ארגון הטבעונים העולמי" - ארגון
שלא קיים, וגם אם היה קיים, ספק אם היה מכיר
דווקא את קובי סניץ מישראל. בינתיים, הם
מספרים, הוא נאלץ להסתדר עם מה שיש - ליקוט
המרכיבים הטבעוניים מהמנה שאותה הוא מקבל,
וכן, כשמתאפשר, קניית מוצרי מזון בקנטינה
של בית הכלא.
סניץ מרצה מאסר של 20 יום בגין התבצרות בבית
מיועד להריסה בכפר חרבתא בשנת 2004, יחד עם
פעילים נוספים מארגון "אנרכיסטים נגד
הגדר". "קובי הורשע, והוטל עליו קנס של 2,000
שקל", שיחזר השבוע פעיל בארגון. "הוא החליט
שלא לשלם את הקנס כי הוא מאמין שלא עשה שום
דבר, ולכן נכנס לכלא".
אמו של קובי, דבורה, סיפרה השבוע כי בנה,
שגדל בקיבוץ ברקאי, היה צמחוני אך הפך
לטבעוני בשנתיים האחרונות, מאז חזר מארצות
הברית שם השלים את הדוקטורט שלו במתמטיקה.
הפעם האחרונה שבה ראתה אותו היתה ביום
רביעי שעבר, יומיים לאחר שנכלא. כעבור
יומיים, כשדיברו בטלפון, אמר לה כי ינסה
לקנות מזון מהקנטינה, בימים שבהם מותר לו
(לטענת עורכת דינו, גבי לסקי, הפעם הבאה שבה
יותר לו לבקר בקנטינה היא שלושה ימים לפני
שחרורו).
"הוא איש שלא מתלונן יותר מדי", אמרה האם,
"אבל לא היה לו את המזון שהוא צריך. הוא מנסה
להסתדר עם מה שיש. הוא צריך לאכול קטניות,
אגוזים ודברים כאלה. יש דברים שהוא בכל זאת
יכול לאכול שם, כמו אורז או דברים מבושלים".
לסקי סבורה כי מדובר בתנאי מאסר לא חוקיים,
"מאחר שעל פי חוק המעצרים, חייבים לספק
לאסיר אוכל שהוא אוכל על פי אמונתו".
בשב"ס לא יכולים לטעון כי מדובר בתקדים. חגי
מטר, למשל, טבעוני שריצה שמונה חודשים מאסר
בכלא מעשיהו (בשל סרבנות גיוס), מספר כי
במקרה שלו הגיעו לסידור: תשלום בקנטינה
בגין מוצרי מזון שעובד הקנטינה רכש בחוץ.
"הוא קנה לי חלב סויה, אגוזים ועוד כל מיני
דברים. זה עבד נפלא".
מהשב"ס נמסר בתגובה: "לאור העובדה כי (סניץ)
ביקש עם הגיעו לריצוי המאסר תפריט טבעוני,
הוא נבדק על ידי רופא היחידה שהמליץ על
אוכל צמחוני ודיאטטי לאסיר. כמו כן, הוסבר
לאסיר כי בשלב ראשון יקבל תפריט צמחוני
ויתאפשר לו לקנות מוצרים מותאמים תוך
הספקת ירקות טריים על פי האפשרות ועל פי
הניתן. שב"ס מקיים מאמץ גדול על מנת להתאים
תפריט מותאם על פי צורך לחולים, צמחונים
וכיוצא בזה, וכך גם במקרה זה נעשה מאמץ על
מנת לספק את מזונו. לא מוכרת כל הפניה
לארגון עולמי כזה או אחר". 
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Published in 2008

http://www.badil.org/en/al-majdal/itemlist/user/153-kobisnitzandroeeharush

Israeli Citizens for a Boycott of Israel

Written by Kobi Snitz and Roee Harush

Over the past few months, a working group has been meeting and discussing how to build the BDS campaign by citizens of Israel. The group itself is composed of a small group of Israeli citizens who object to the daily apartheid policies towards Palestinians everywhere, many of whom are already active in challenging Israeli oppression in different political, intellectual and cultural arenas. Much of the group's work so far has focused on discussing amongst itself, and with the Palestinian initiators of the campaign, on the ways in which this campaign can be built within Israeli society. This article describes some of the results of these discussions.

Haifa, the city in which the campaign is based, is a 'mixed' city. Palestinians and Israeli-Jews reside in it, and there are some advanced political projects in the city that helped in choosing it as the group's center of action. Many of Haifa's Palestinians and some Jews participate in anti-Zionist activity on different occasions, such as Nakba day (May 14-15) and Land day (March 30), and there are regular vigils against Israeli war crimes, as well as various forms of direct action against the occupation and the Zionist regime.

 

 

Through the various discussions, it was found that there is broad agreement that support by Israeli citizens, particularly Jewish-Israelis could be very useful to the international BDS campaign. In addition to helping counter the crude characterization of Israel's critics as anti-Semites, the usefulness of organized Jewish-Israeli endorsement for the campaign helps respond to the charge that progressive Israelis, or the Israeli left, do not support BDS. Less clear are the prospects or opportunities for such a movement to exist in a meaningful way.

 

An important unresolved issue is the legitimate reluctance of many anti-Zionists in Palestine to identify as Israelis. In a movement dedicated to the principle of full equality, the wishes of those who oppose such a label should not be taken lightly. As such, an internal debate has arisen over the simple, but fundamental, question of what to name the group. Does the usefulness of externally projecting ourselves as Jewish-Israeli settlers in Palestine who oppose the settler colonial project outweigh the principled objection to internally and externally identifying one-self as being part of the Zionist enterprise through the use of the 'Israeli' label? Even on the domestic front, while the Jewish society in Palestine will undoubtedly see BDS demands as extreme, identifying as Israelis may help in getting others to listen to our arguments as members of the same society, rather than further alienating BDS campaigners as a foreign body within that society. This is a long-standing question for the Jewish anti-Zionist movement in Palestine, and while it is an unresolved issue, it should not be allowed to become an obstacle to mounting an effective struggle against the apartheid regime.

 

The first obstacle to the campaign is the fact that support for BDS is very marginalized within Jewish-Israeli society and some of the prominent advocates of the campaign, such as Ilan Pappe and the late Tanya Reinhart, had to endure a great deal of pressure in response to their position. This official and societal pressure is successful in intimidating many potential supporters of the campaign. Secondly, even amongst potential supporters of BDS the discussion is at a pretty early stage. One indication is that people commonly respond to the proposed campaign with the idea that Israeli citizens (including Palestinian citizens of Israel) can not call for a boycott since they can not avoid participating in the Israeli economy.

 

In addition to potential usefulness for the global campaign, the main reason for wanting to launch the campaign within Jewish-Israeli society is a principled one that stems from a deep opposition to the colonial Zionist project. While some parts of the Israeli left may have called for selective boycotts, notably of settlement products, there currently exists no agent within this society that operates within the framework of the 9 July 2005 Palestinian civil society call for BDS. Thus, it is felt that it is important to join the Palestinians in their call for boycott, accepting their role as the original initiators, accepting the Palestinian call for boycott as it is, focusing on all three demands of ending occupation, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and implementation of the Palestinian refugees' right to return. Participants see BDS as an essential campaign, potentially the most powerful nonviolent campaign possible to stop the ongoing war crimes committed in the name of Jewish people.

 

The group is now at a stage of planning activities in Israel and abroad. At first, efforts will be focused on educating potential supporters. In the mean time, the group has already been involved in several initiatives. The first action was simply to translate and endorse the Palestinian civil society call for BDS as Israelis. The direct support of Israeli citizens in the BDS call is an important declaration, and one that will hopefully inspire other Israelis to join the campaign. Recently, the group also took part in a march commemorating 41 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. During the march, BDS activists carried signs that read “Boycott Israel” in Hebrew and English, chanting this slogan loudly. After the march, about 30 Israelis held a meeting that lasted about an hour-and-a-half and discussed the idea of boycotting Israel among themselves. The responses were encouraging and it will be important to have such discussions again at other political events. The group also participated in the panel dealing specifically with the boycott campaign at the 21 June 2008 Haifa Conference on the Secular Democratic State. Since then it issued open letters to high profile artists planning to perform in Israel, such as Snoop Doggy Dog and Cypress Hill, calling on them to cancel their visits and to take public positions against the Israeli apartheid regime.

 

While discussions have produced the preliminary steps already mentioned, there are larger issues that have emerged as requiring more discussion and need to be thought through with the Palestinian initiators of the campaign. For instance, one way in which Hebrew speakers can clearly be of use to the campaign is research into the corporations and institutions supporting and legitimizing Israel's apartheid system. Such research should not be done in an arbitrary fashion, but would be much more useful if done in coordination with the needs of the global campaign and the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the main reference point of the global campaign. Translation of BDS resources and news from other languages to Hebrew will also be an important part of our work, in order to facilitate outreach in the Hebrew-speaking community.

 

Another question that has come up in discussions is that of how to relate to groups operating within the framework of a selective boycott. Gush Shalom, for example, calls solely for a boycott of settlement products, but not of Zionist-Israeli institutions in general. The practical aspect of how to relate to such groups creates a dilemma: are supporters of BDS based on the Palestinian civil society call to join forces with those who only support part of the call, and after some gains are made on that front, to go on to advocate a wide boycott and further demands; or should they not cooperate with boycott initiatives which do not follow the call issued by Palestinians. The reason for considering the first option is the potential of reaching a much larger audience and increasing the legitimacy of the idea of the boycott campaign within Israeli society. The reason for considering the second option is that given the disproportionate weight that actors within the international community give to Jewish and Israeli voices, Israeli boycott calls might end up setting the agenda for international initiatives. For example, European groups who might want Israeli support for their boycott policies might follow Gush Shalom's policy of only boycotting settlement products while Palestinian organizations have clearly called for support for a wider boycott. By joining forces, even temporarily with those who offer only partial support for the Palestinian call, one may inadvertently give credibility to Israeli decision-making power in what is and should continue to be a Palestinian-led campaign.

 

A pivotal issue is that of the role and relationship vis-à-vis Palestinian citizens of Israel who are central to the campaign. For instance, does the usefulness of having a Jewish-Israeli group calling for boycott, outweigh the potential perpetuation of 'apartness' and 'separation' characteristic of Israeli apartheid by having an exclusively Jewish group? These questions cannot be answered without a longer process of discussion with Palestinian BDS activists on both sides of the green line.

 

Overall, the feeling in the group is quite positive. Many feel certain that partners in the struggle against the apartheid regime will be found, and that together they can make a strong and effective contribution to the global BDS movement and the Palestinian struggle for freedom.

 

Kobi Snitz and Roee Harush

 

Kobi Snitz is an Israeli peace activist living in Haifa
Roee Harush is an activist of Moroccan origin who resides in occupied Haifa. He studies feminist critical pedagogy and literature at Seminar Hakibutzim in Tel Aviv and has been an anti-Zionist activist for the past 5 years in various NGOs and civil resistance groups.

 

 
 
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