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JCall: European echo to JStreet: Part III
Paris, 4 May 2010
Part I is here.
Part II is here.
How about that? The serious suspect in the almost successful Times Square Mayday bombing is a dual national. Pakistani. And he was caught just before his plane took off for Dubai! Dubai? Is he a Mossad agent or something? No, seriously, he was on his way to Dubai and meanwhile thousands of women are looking for the man who took off a long-sleeve black t-shirt, stuffed it into his bag, and walked off in a short-sleeved red t-shirt. He’s not bad looking. OK, maybe he’s married and has three kids. No need to be a homebreaker, there are millions more like him and as the summer warms up—if it ever does, we are freezing today in Paris—there will be millions more. You’ve got to admit, men who take off a t-shirt and stuff it into a bag are far more suspicious than Pakistanis who buy SUVs for cash after spending 5 months in the homeland.
What does this have to do with the JCall-Be Reasonable controversy? Everything, of course.
French mainstream and mass media barely noticed last night’s JCall show at the EU Parliament in Brussels. The debate continues, unabated, in Jewish media.
[I tuned in on the JCall site just to check the numbers and landed on the video live from the Parliament. Elie Barnavi had just begun his presentation. I had missed Maurice Szafran’s intro, and maybe one other speaker.] The former ambassador began with a disclaimer: JCall is not a copy of JStreet, its initiators are not Leftists. They are “the voice of Reason.” And that voice says that even if all the Arab-Muslim countries in the region were determined to destroy Israel, the reason for the call would not change. Israel must get out of the settlements.
Another former ambassador, Avi Primor, made a heartfelt Reasonable appeal to the EU parliamentarians: your role is to calm relations between Israelis and Diaspora Jews, to help us help Israel integrate into the world. The majority of Israelis want to get out of the territories but they voted for a government that won’t do it. Why? “Ils ne savent pas à quel saint se vouer [they don’t know what saint to worship].” They have to know that we will ensure their security after they’ve withdrawn from the territories.
Ze’ev Sternhell, one of the founders of Peace Now, isn’t ashamed to identify himself as a Leftist, meaning, he says, someone who was right 30 years ago… when it was forbidden in Israel to even speak of a Palestinian state. Now everyone knows that is the solution. The War of Independence that ended in 1949 is Israel’s only just war. Subsequent wars—’67, ’73, etc.—are unjust. We need intervention from the U.S. and the E.U. to get us back to the 1949 situation [=borders]. Jews have nothing to do in the West Bank and Arabs have to abandon the right of return. Given what he sees as the only alternative—separation along the ’49 lines or a binational state with a Jewish minority— Sternhell says if he wanted to be a minority he would choose someplace where life is easier than in Israel. [Brussels, for example?]
After Daniel Cohn-Bendit (see Part 2 for a summary of his contribution) came Bernard Henri-Levy who admits he did not have much time to follow the controversy sparked by JCall because he was busy defending a friend—Jewish in fact--who is unjustly imprisoned: Roman Polanski. But, he did find a few hours to look over the hostile responses and could now dismiss them by categories 1, 2, 3, and 4. In fact, the popular philosopher set up straw men and knocked them down with a whiff. “There has been much excitation… many respectable thinkers have lost their sang-froid.” He did admit that if he had written the Appeal to Reason he wouldn’t have used the term “moral transgression” to describe the colonization.
N.B. In all this Reason, the line that got an outburst of applause was delivered by Eurodeputy Cohn-Bendit—to be a democratic state, Israel must be a secular state!
Other Reasonable Voices have spoken out recently. For example, French ambassadors who addressed an open letter to President Sarkozy on 1 March 2010 bemoaning the total impasse due to the intransigence of an Israeli government under pressure from the “colonists” and a weak, divided Palestinian side. But messieurs les ambassadeurs have The Solution: withdrawal to the ‘67 borders, partition of Jerusalem, solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. The international community, they say, is unanimous in condemning the terrible consequences of more than 40 years of occupation (wall, colonies, expropriation, land grab in Jerusalem). It is urgent to put an end to the blocus of Gaza and impose international law, “which alone can establish lasting peace and order.”
Under the heading « lasting peace and order » it should be noted that the Belgian Parliament in its last gasps, just before it collapsed, passed a total anti-niqab (& assimilated full facial covering) ban. Europeans have their own walls to deal with, walls erected against them by hostile local populations operating at every level of society, from the inner sanctum of banking with sharia compliant finance to street skirmishes between punk jihadis and hapless policemen. Europeans—and that includes immigrants and freedom-loving nominal Muslims—are becoming a Diaspora in their own lands.
Shmuel Trigano is, in my opinion, one of the most perceptive, courageous thinkers in France today. I cannot begin to enumerate his accomplishments—books, research, symposiums, the review Controversies, academic pursuits—and his tireless effort to conceptualize the dramatic situation of Jews in France today. Shmuel Trigano is not a performance intellectual. His thought is action. And he immediately jumped into action, with Raphaël Draï, to respond to the ear-splitting JCall. Interviewed by the UPJF (Union of Jewish entrepreneurs) www.upjf.org "L'appel de J Call est un encouragement à la guerre pour les ennemis d'Israël", S. Trigano:, Shmuel Trigano made the following points:
Presenting Israel as the sole obstacle JCall invites the imposition of a “solution” that is presented as “peace.” This short circuits the government of the only democratic State in the region, putting it under international stewardship. How can the supporters of JCall define their initiative as “concern for Israel” when they undermine its sovereignty? They place their hopes on Obama and the European Union who are antipathetic to the State of Israel and undeniably committed to the Arab and Palestinian cause.
The idea of Peace Now, says Trigano, is no less messianic than the “Block of the Faith.” There’s nothing “rational” about it. How can anyone continue to uphold such a position after the failure of withdrawals from the West Bank, Lebanon, and Gaza? The withdrawal J Call is appealing for would lead to the same kind of catastrophe…and worse.
Our “Be Reasonable” declaration is the initiative of independent personalities whose only resources are reflection and morale conscience. Its success with the public and with Jewish institutions is encouraging.
[9:30 PM May 4: JCall 4559 signatures, Be Reasonable 5909]
Trigano cites a typical AFP release (28 April): JCall, it says, has upset the French Jewish community. "Unacceptable » for CRIF President Richard Prasquier. Many negative reactions are posted on the Net. “JSSNews.com, an Israeli opinion webzine, primarily written in French, launched an anti-JCall campaign baptized [sic] "Raison garder," and relayed by the Union of Jewish entrepreneurs and professionals.” In other words, remarks Trigano, our declaration has to be “communitarian” and we are some kind of foreigners who strangely enough speak French.
What we need now is relays and the means to keep up our active presence in this debate.
Here ends Part 3 and I have barely scratched the surface. JCall is going to regret calling me! While waiting for Part 4, check out Hanging-up on “J-Call” by my brilliant friend Emmanuel Navon.