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

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