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[Weizmann] Kobi Snitz's interview full of misinformation and deception with regard to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians

Editorial Note:

Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute) is a leading activist with Anarchists Against the Wall,†which has†a full complement of activists at home and abroad. On a recent trip to London, Snitz gave an interview full of misinformation and deception with regard to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.† He broadened†his repertoire to include the recent disturbances against illegal African migrants, without mentioning the rash of rapes and other crimes in Tel Aviv that had triggered the event.† †To hear Snitz tell it, Israel is a racist society†whose citizens†randomly attack black people in the street. †
Like†some other highly activist faculty, Snitz can afford his extensive political work: he†is a member of the Institute's Department of Neurobiology;†yet,†since obtaining†a doctorate almost a decade ago, he published some three articles. This is very skimpy record, especially as compared to other members of his research team.††
Once again, the Israeli taxpayer is called to subsidize a political activist in the name of an expansive definition of academic freedom.


Posted onJune 1, 2012byLoosey Parsuns

Anarchists Against the Wall is a direct action group of Israeli activists who attend weekly protests in the West Bank. They brought together a varied political coalition which has united in support of the Palestinian popular struggle against the occupation.

When invited by a Palestinian village, activists attend weekly demonstrations and direct actions standing together with Palestinians in rejection of land theft, violence, separation and occupation. They also recognize that our presence in these demonstrations can reduced violence and illegal activity by the Israeli military Ė who sometimes react differently to Israelis than to Palestinians. Over the years they have earned acknowledgment by Palestinian grassroots activists as a strong and committed ally.

A member was here in the UK named Kobi Snitz joins me and tells us on The Circled A in person.

Listen Now:†un yet broadcast


Transcribed by IAM

Interviewer: Iím here with Anarchist against the Wall. † Tell me about who you are as a group, the history and where you are at now.,†

Speaker: The group sort of gelled together or came together, mostly spontaneously I think, around 2002-2003. † Israeli activists started joining actions by the International Solidarity Movement and the International Womenís Peace Service in the West Bank, and through the connections that were developed through the experience and through the †contacts between Israeli activists themselves, a loose group of Israeli activists came together. † From the beginning and to a degree to this day, the group is not really focused on being a group or on creating institutional structure. † It came together for a specific purpose and tried to remain focused on it. † It becomes harder and harder I think as time goes by. † Certain things, like group becomes bigger; it has its own internal dynamics that requires some work or some attention paid to it. † New people coming in; experience has to be transferred. † All these things are a sort of a structure that is essential for a group that is not interested in structure, even for a group that wants to stay as focused as it can on action on the ground and I think itís only natural to do that in a situation like Israel and the occupation of the West Bank because the actions are so accessible. † They happen a half an hour sometimes from the center of Tel Aviv. †Itís so clear whatís there to do. † You donít need to develop a very advanced or very sophisticated ideology or training for people to understand what ought to be done and it allows you to focus your energies on just going out and doing it, which in some ways is quite ideal for political action and in many other places as people in Britain will probably know very well it is hard to find a right target and mobilize people and can explain to every body what has to happen or what is the right thing to do now, whatís the most effective thing to do. † The group is lucky that these things are clear and not created and shapes its focus to this day.,†

Interviewer: I read on your website about the village of Budrus. † Can you tell us about that? † Itís important that people know here know about the emergence of a popular resistance like this.,†

Speaker: Budrus was one of the first villages who organized in the mode of resistance that remains to this day and that a popular committee, which means open to every one who wants to participate. † In the Palestinian villages, the committee is open to every body. † Its non-sectarian, which when it works well, which is the case most of the time; it avoids the in-fighting and the intrigue between the different political forces. †A place like Budrus is really a very successful example of how unified they were able to be and another important aspect of the resistance in Budrus is their strong inclusion of women in the struggle, which is not often the case in every village in the West Bank. † In Budrus, the women were included in the struggle and played a very important part in it and every body have no problem admitting it. † And also a combination of some good organizers in Budrus, Ayed Al and Ahmad Awad; some really successful organizing on their part! † Also, they were from the beginning willing to work with internationals, even with Israelis. † Again, not something so obvious and automatic in the West Bank! † They were willing to give us a try and I think that it was up to us to try to prove that we could be useful and to that, which is just as important, we were able to work with Palestinians in a way that respects them, respects their ownership in the struggle. † It has been a historical problem with Israeli peace groups and that itís quite unusual for Israelis to be led by Palestinians, in any kind of instruction by Palestinians. † It really takes, if there is any kind of political development, that we did as a group before, I said we donít really need to do much political development, but if thereís any kind of political development, this is it. † I think we got it in the Israeli left that the right place for us to be is in the West Bank led by Palestinians in a struggle where theyíre calling the shots. Weíre their as guests who donít try to throw their weights around. † †Thatís one of the things that needed to be established in the beginning. † †I think it worked quite well in Budrus in the fact that they were able to push back the fence off of their land, the green line, just by the power of their demonstrations, not by a court decision mind you. † A court decision would come after the fact to solidify the political gains done by actual struggle and maybe some credit would be given to humane and benevolent courts, but in this case, no. † It was just the struggle that got the army to re-route the fence off of their land. † So thatís has been a successful example. † Other villages followed a similar mode of organizing.,†

Interviewer: Do you think that it is important that Israelis join the fight with Palestinian communities against the Israeli state, even if itís dangerous? † Whatís at stake?,†

Speaker: Well, for Israelis, itís different from whatís at stake for Palestinians. † Twenty-two Palestinians were killed last time I checked in demonstrations against the wall. † Israelis were injured. † Some of them injured badly, some of them did nearly die. † A couple of Americans were killed in the ISM and another American, Triston Anderson, was severely injured and nearly died and will have permanent damage. † No Israelis have died. † I think that it is a bit of luck, but also it does also reflects that the army I think is a lot more cautious when weíre around and I would like to think another contribution that we can make to this struggle is that we can force the army to be a little more careful about shooting at demonstrations. † In fact, this is something quite rare, but we do have it in writing that their firing regulations are different when Israelis are around. † We have dissident veterans of the army who got the actual orders, so we see it in practice, but to actually have it in writing is quite rare. † Besides the physical risk, legal risks again, I couldnít tell you the number of Palestinians arrested and how long theyíve spent in jail. † Itís very typical for a demonstrator to be picked up at a demonstration for four months. † The military court system, we could talk about that more, but you can imagine the military court system the way Palestinians are tried is very different from the civilian court system where Israelis are tried. † The legal risk to Israelis is not insignificant. † We are arrested quite a lot and indicted quite a lot. † And it forces us to shift some of our focus away from action on the ground, as much as we like, wee need to deal with legal bills. † †Defending ourselves in court, defending Palestinians in court, takes a lot of effort and on top of that its one of those things that influences on a group that forces us to deal with such institutional structures and also becomes slightly institutionalized in itself.,†

Interviewer: Do you have a hard time having a demonstration? † I guess you spoke about that.,†

Speaker: Right, Palestinians have no right to demonstrate, at all. † A group of three or more or maybe its five or ten Palestinians who meet to discuss any thing political are violating military law. † It includes if they do it inside of their own houses, let alone at a demonstration. †So, any Palestinian at any demonstration at any time can be arrested. † The other legal mechanism is closed military zone. †The army will regularly declare an area where there is a demonstration a closed military zone and itís really a no demonstration zone. † It allows the army to arrest people just for being there. † For the Israelis, the risk is a lot less. † For Palestinians, it could easily mean months. † All it would take is for a soldier to say a Palestinian pushed him. † If a soldier says a Palestinian throws a stone or any thing else, thereís almost no way to fight it legally. † Formally speaking, there is a legal system where Palestinians can have trials and even appeal the decisions. † Itís really just a formality. † Palestinians are most often remanded without bail and once that happens, they have a choice of either being in jail where a trial goes on for six months or maybe more, or pleading guilty and on getting three months or maybe four months. † † You can imagine what happens. † So, the right to trial is just a formality. † The entire process is really decided at the level of arraignment and the remat hearing. †And thereís no evidence there, secret evidence often and thereís no witnesses! † Itís just a hearing where the state can present evidence, secret evidence often and there is not very much that you can do. † There is actually a movie that came out recently called ďThe law in these parts.Ē † It interviews former military judges and they are quite frank about the system and why itís designed like that and about how it works, so itís meant to allow them to say that there is a justice system and a court system, but in practice trials are very very rare. † Our lawyers are one of the very few people who even bother to put up a defense for Palestinian defendants in court and our lawyer, a very dedicated talented Gabi Lasky, told of a case where she acquitted. † You can imagine how. †She acquitted one of the Palestinians defendants in a military court. † The translated did not know how to translate the word acquittal. † So, that is the so-called justice system in the West Bank.,†

Interviewer: Can you share with us some true stories that can be found on your website on the press clippings?,†

Speaker: I havenít seen that site in a while. † I donít remember whatís there. † What did get a lot of press was when the Israeli High Court decided to change the route of the wall in one of the villages that had started up not too long after Budrus and been struggling now for seven continuous years; with at least a demonstration every other week and after years of struggle they have managed to win a case in the High Court that got the wall to move. † That must have beenÖ.I know that it got a lot of press! † You might see that in the press clipping section.,†

Interviewer: What is the role of Anarchist Against the Wall in the struggle to be in the future, you think?,†

Speaker: Itís a good question. † I find it impossible to say how the struggle is going to shape up like. † It could go on the way that it does, something like six or seven villages having weekly demonstrations and us supporting them, in coming to all of these demonstrations and do other support outside of the demonstrations, such as boards or some press or media, legal defense, and documentation and such. † It could go on like this for a while. † I mean, most take decades. † This form of popular struggle that we have been involved with has going on for ten years. † In compared to other struggles, it is not long at all. †It could on forever. † We do have the momentum to keep going. † I think our group and the Palestinian villages; after a certain time, the momentum keeps the demonstrations going. † Their not about to give up! †If they were going to give up, it would have happened already. † For seven years, there has been a demonstration every week. † They havenít missed a one. † They could go on and I know it costs the army a lot of effort and political capital. † I would like to say that if every three kilometers of the wall costs the Israeli state so much political capital, those three kilometers on Biíilin or maybe its five kilometers, then they would never have been able to build the wall. † This small village and other small villages have a disproportionate ability to put pressure on the army and the state. † I think that is the reason that they keep going. † They wouldnít keep going if they felt that it was pointless. † †I think that they can tell and we feel it too that we are able to put some pressure on them; that we are able to focus the attention of the world. †This combination of context of genuine grass root organizers in Palestinian villages and diverse international support is pretty strong. † These small villages with lets say 1600 people might have a mailing list of supporters of the village spread out amongst thousands of people around the world. † Thatís I think a strong combination thatís been developed in this struggle.,†

Interview: Whatís the response been on the ground to the group? † It is such a religious place. † I think it is important to keep the libertarian message alive.,†

Speaker: The libertarian message may exist in the form of an example. The places that we go, the people that we meet, they can tell that the men and women work as equals. † In our dealings, we make it clear. † Other libertarian goals such as anti-statismÖ.we are not hiding the fact that we are anarchists. † We and the people that we work with can understand that. † I think that it is quite an easy idea for Palestinians to understand, anarchism. † There is a very long and rich history of popular action in Palestine. † I can not think of a more deeply rooted tradition of popular action than Palestine. † Going back to general strikes, for months, in the thirties, continuously up to the First Intifada, where every village, every school and institution spontaneously rose up. † The institutions that were tied to the occupation became their own autonomous organizations. †From garbage collection to education, they just replaced and did it with themselves. † So, itís not hard with such a tradition to understand a group whose principles are direct democracy and that it doesnít need leaders. † †Theyíve seen that example on a much larger scale. † They understand that a popular movement can be very resilient without leaders. That part is easy. † Theyíre issues that might be more of a concern in our society, like letís say womenís liberation. † I mentioned Budrus as a positive example. † Not every village women come out to demonstrate. † They are not treated equally in the West Bank, I am sorry to say. † The worst thing that we can do for womenís liberation in the West Bank is to lecture Palestinians about it, so we donít. † In fact, womenís liberation was far more advanced in the sixties and seventies in the West Bank. † In fact, some of the most progressive parts of the Arab world were in the West Bank. † Itís been the repression of the occupation which has been used as an excuse to deny womenís liberation, so it would be quite perverse for Israelis to come and lecture Palestinians about womenís liberation and if we want to help womenís liberation in the West Bank, we should concentrate on our own societyís repression of women in the West Bank.,†

Interviewer: How do you find outside support been like from the perspective of people that live both in Palestine and Israel?,†

Speaker: Well, in Israeli society, there is very little support for our work. †We have our own community and circle of supporters, but apart from that, no support at all. † In fact, there is widespread antagonism and hostility. † We donít expect any different. † We donít focus much of our work on Israeli society. † If there is any dispute with some of the Palestinians that we work with, sometimes they would ask us, you know its great that youíre here in the West Bank, but why donít you also do stuff inside your own society, inside Israel in the 67 borders? † I just think it would be really hard for us to do very much. † We would have the vigil and demonstration and sometimes direct action, but we have very little support from inside the borders of Israel, so we focus on what is more effective, which is to join Palestinians in the West Bank. † In Palestinian society, there is a built-in reluctance to working with Israelis based on past experiences, based particular on the movement Dialogue, which ends up incorporating a starting point of parity between Israelis and Palestinians as a beginning of a discussion. † So, a dialogue group would start off saying something like ok, we want to be a space for every one to feel comfortable to speak; that would mean that the situation is portrayed as one of equally comparable situation for Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians under occupation and Israelis threatened by Palestinians. I think that is a great distortion of the situation. † Thatís the reason why there is a lot of resistance within Palestinian society against what they call normalization, because unless the direct action directly challenges Israeli control and repression of Palestinians, in a way it extends the occupation, because the structure and terms of the dialogue hold onto existing power relations, so unless your joint work includes an explicit form of resistance, it perpetuates the great occupation. † So, we have this challenge. † We go to the West Bank to prove that we are not there for normalization. † Weíre not there to drink tea. † There is a very rich tradition of hospitability. † Sometimes we resist it and make it clear we are not there for the tea. † Or, we would have tea, but only after the demo.,†

Interviewer: Did the population find other things that the government does questionable to do with human rights or refugees, any thing outside of just the West Bank?,†

Speaker: †Some of the people within our community are working on defending the refugees who have made their way to Israel. † Itís become more of an issue within the last couple of years. † In fact, just last night, a mob rioted in Tel Aviv and assaulted Africans on the street, just random Africans that were encountered in the street were assaulted. † The police arrested a gang that went around beating Africans in the street, including using pepper spray on them. † As is typical in such a case, the race is stirred up by politicians. There were some cases of assault, of Africans assaulting Israelis. † True or not makes no difference. † The civil politicians, a government minister, and the mayor of Tel Aviv have made quite a bit of political capital being the poor citizens at danger of assault by Africans. † They distributed pepper spray to residents to defend themselves. † Now, not to Africans to defend themselves, but only to Israelis to defend themselves! † And that same pepper spray, I donít know if it is the very same bottles handed by the city, some of the Africans that were assaulted were assaulted with pepper spray. †Thereís a good chance that it is the same pepper spray that the city gave them. † If any body had any sense of history or racism, it is so transparent, so reminiscent of the American south in the 60ís. † The statement is that Jewish women need to be defended from rape by Africans. † Maybe there was a case of rape. † Who knows? † But that doesnít matter. † It is about rape offending pure women from it resulting in waves of violence directed at Africans and the so-called solution is to deport these refugees to Sudan, where they are at great risk. † This is from a country that boosts it was created to defend refugees that no one else would have. † Here it is, whipping up hysteria at the first chance, mobs of people attacking Africans in the street, and the government proposing to deport them back to places like Sudan. † They have already started building huge detention centers in the dessert to keep them in indefinitely.,†

Interviewer: Are the immigrants allowed public services?,†

Speaker: They donít get the state health services. † The only health services that they get are run by two small ngoís. † Itís nothing near the level of services that they need. †Itís a chronic problem. † There are no plans to solve it. †I think it is really an indication of how far gone Israeli society is. † When outbursts of open racism happen, people would rationalize it by saying, well, people are threatened by Palestinians for so long and it just comes out. † Hereís a case where thatís not what happened. † There hasnít been any African community in Israel, except for African Jews. † There was no African community to speak of until a few years ago. † They donít pose a threat to people and definitely not to the state. † Yet in no time the level of racism builds up enough for mobs to go and beat people randomly in the street. † They have racists in this country too. † It takes them time to build up to whip people in mobs. † In Israel, it happened virtually overnight.,†

Interviewer: How can people around the world help you? †Donations are one that is very important.,†

Speaker: Right. †The persecution by the army and the legal risk mean that we need constant legal work to defend people when they are prosecuted. †We have a very good and dedicated lawyer, who charges almost nothing, but even at his very low solidarity rate, weíve racked up quite a legal bill. † We need a lot of help for our legal fund to pay back these legal fees and to be able to defend ourselves and the Palestinians that we work with and to allow the work to continue. †It would be very easy for the army to put away in shekel all the Palestinian and Israeli activists with legal expenses and with jail and with sentences. † It is only because we have top rate legal defense and very dedicated lawyers that we are able to resist and it is crucial we have that. † We wouldnít be able to resist without that.,†

Interviewer: So every one must donate at least a pound.,†

Speaker: At least. †Thereís a website that has information about our work and also a donation page. † Weíre easy to find online, Anarchists Against the Wall will get you to the right place and please help as much as you can.,†

Interviewer: Do you have any thing else that you would like to add?,†

Speaker: I would like to thank you for having me on. † Itís a very interesting show and glad for the chance.,

†Interviewer: Are the shirts still available online here?,†

Speaker: Shirts? † Actually, we had hundreds of shirts that were at one of the activists houses. †Write to the Israeli riot police, ask for a shirt, and see what happens. †
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