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Monday, May 03, 2010

Just what we needed: J Street, European style

They claim not to just be a European JStreet, but even the name sounds similar. Calling themselves JCall, and led by a Tunisian-born French Jew who spent ten years living in Israel, the group has gathered some 3,000 signatures of 'intellectuals' on a petition that - get this - accuses Europe of systematically supporting Israel. The petition is to be presented to the European parliament in Brussels on Monday. This is the introduction and part of an interview with the founder, David Chemla.
JCall is an initiative of public figures and intellectuals, such as Bernard-Henri Levy, Alain Finkielkraut and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, which seeks to make a new Jewish European voice heard on Israel-related issues. The petition being presented in Brussels underscores Israel's right to exist "as a Jewish and democratic state," but also criticizes Israeli policies - such as the continued settlement policy in the West Bank - and calls for a "viable and sovereign Palestinian state" alongside Israel. JCall has collected more than 3,000 signatures online.

Considering the animosity in Europe today toward Israel's policies, and even toward Israel in general, how is this initiative helpful? Don't you think putting more pressure on a beleaguered Israel at this time is irresponsible?

I think our initiative is actually helping Israel's image in Europe. It is a pretty low image over here these days, because of what happened in Gaza, mainly, and it is commonly believed in Europe that Israel is the provocative, negative side of the conflict - the one that is blocking the peace process.

What we are doing is showing that within the Jewish community there is debate - an open debate - and that we are not monolithic. We identify ourselves with Israel and its rights, but we criticize. This is healthy and needed. We are Jews, Zionists and are always ready to stand up for Israel's right to exist. We are against delegitimization and boycotts of Israel, but what we are showing is that it's okay to be identified with Israel, and at the same time also to criticize [some] of it's actions.

As for [being] responsible, we are doing the only responsible thing we can think to do. We are speaking as friends of Israel and we are saying "You are going to make a mistake. You have to decide how to behave, not us. But as friends, as Jews, we want to tell you that you are going down a wrong path."

In Israel, it seems there are plenty of people living with their heads in the sand. The economic and the security situations are fine, so there is this idea that there is no hurry, that there is time to resolve this crisis - but there is not. We don't think time is on Israel's [side]. We are worried that a two-state solution is slipping through our fingers.
The 'two-state solution' isn't slipping through anyone's fingers. It's long gone. And it wasn't Israel's fault that it disappeared. It disappeared for one reason and one reason only: The Arabs (forget the fictitious 'Palestinians') are not willing to accept a Jewish state of any size on the Jewish homeland. That's the truth. There aren't going to be any offers of more than what Ehud Barak offered in 2000 and 2001 and than Ehud Olmert offered in 2008, and the 'Palestinians' said no. They chose perpetual victimhood.

As far as I can tell, the only difference between these people and their American cousins is that they are opposed to BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction - which actually now comes ahead of Bush Dementia Syndrome on Google). Give them some time. I also have not seen their position on Iran sanctions, which J Street first opposed but now allegedly favors.

Of course, the morons at Haaretz are thrilled:
It is to be hoped that the Israeli government does not join the attack on JCall. During the latest crisis with the U.S. administration, Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu spared no effort in getting Jewish public figures like Elie Wiesel to join the battle against pressure for a construction freeze in East Jerusalem.

Those who recruit Jews from the right to support their policies must honor the right of the Jewish left to express its views. The contribution of Jewish peace activists in Europe is a suitable response to the damage that members of the Netanyahu government, mainly Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, are doing to Israel's interests there.

The violent conflict between Israel and its neighbors and the suspension of peace talks have contributed to Diaspora Jewish communities' increasing alienation from Israel. That trend is particularly noticeable among the youth.

The fact that thousands of Jews around the world, including prominent intellectuals, are advocating an end to nearly 43 years of malignant occupation is welcome news. Let's hope that the voices of Israel's friends in Paris, London and Brussels will be heard in Jerusalem.
These are the same people who are horrified at the prospect of anyone on the Right speaking up against the 'peace process.' Although I must admit that I never would have thought of Elie Wiesel as being part of the 'Jewish Right.'

There are a couple of reactions against the organization in French - of course Haaretz wouldn't bother to translate those and dismisses them by noting that the established Jewish community is opposed to JCall. My French is virtually non-existent so I hesitate to even post a Google translation, especially from a language that I am sure someone among my readers speaks. One is a response from Richard Prasquier, the chairman of CRIF, the official French Jewish communal organization, which may be found here, and the other is from a publication called JSS (which has an English section that apparently does not include this article) that may be found here. If anyone wants to translate into English, please email it to me (not in the comments section - too long) and I will post them.

My sense is that those who identify themselves as Jewish in Europe are more to the Right than those who do so in the US, mainly because in Europe they are constantly under attack (there's no better Conservative than a mugged Liberal). But I could be wrong about that.


At 3:39 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

We have European Jews wanting to prove they are "good Europeans" by attacking Israel. It reminds me of the German Jews who attacked Zionism in order to prove they were "good Germans." We all know how it turned out.

The more things change...


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