J Call: a new European Jewish movement for peace
The Jewish peace camp’s attempt at rebirth in Europe, 23 April 2010
[And see Haaretz, 2nd May, 3,000 European Jewish intellectuals urge end to Israeli settlements]
The name J Street is already taken, so this is called J Call. On 3rd May, in Brussels, a new European Jewish movement for peace between Israelis and Palestinians will be launched.
The similarities between the organisation and the American J Street, a pro-Israeli and pro-peace organisation created in April 2008, are not coincidental: in common with J Street, the founders of J Call are alarmed at the complete deadlock in discussions between Israelis and Palestinians, and support international intervention to try and salvage the wreck that the political peace process has become.
“Israel faces existential threats,” they write in their “Call for Reason,” launched in the hope of assembling and uniting the European survivors of the ‘peace camp’ once identified with the Israeli left, which has progressively crumbled since the second Palestinian intifada. In Israel’s last election in 2009, combined support for the Zionist parties thought of as ‘the left’ (Labour and Meretz) collapsed to an all-time low of 16 seats (out of 120):
‘Far from underestimating the threats from its external enemies, we know that the danger also lies in the occupation and the continuing pursuit of settlements in the West Bank and in the Arab districts of East Jerusalem. These policies are morally and politically wrong and feed the unacceptable delegitimization process that Israel currently faces abroad.’
This opposition to settlements, especially in Jerusalem, runs counter to the political stance taken by Benyamin Netanyahu’s government, and stands out when compared with the political line normally taken by mainstream European Jewish organisations. For example, the CRIF (the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France) has defended the Israeli rejection of an eventual division of Jerusalem.
“The systematic alignment (of all) with the politics of the current Israeli government is dangerous since it goes against the very interests of the Jewish state,’ say the founders of J Call, who think that “the survival of the state of Israel as both a Jewish and a democratic state depends on the creation of a sovereign and viable Palestinian state.” They call upon “the European Union, along with the United States”, to “put pressure on both parties”.
If it follows the precedent of J Street, the existence of J Call should feed the debate that is at the heart of European Jewish institutions today.
The English text of the European Jewish Call for Reason is given here:
Call for reason
We are citizens of European countries, Jews, and involved in the political and social life of our respective countries. Whatever our personal paths, our connection to the state of Israel is part of our identity. We are concerned about the future of the State of Israel to which we are unfailingly committed.
Israel faces existential threats. Far from underestimating the threats from its external enemies, we know that the danger also lies in the occupation and the continuing pursuit of settlements in the West Bank and in the Arab districts of East Jerusalem. These policies are morally and politically wrong and feed the unacceptable delegitimization process that Israel currently faces abroad.
For these reasons we have decided to take action based on the following principles:
- The future of Israel depends upon urgently achieving peace with the Palestinian people on the basis of the Two States Solution. As we all know, this is urgent. Israel will soon be faced with two, equally disastrous choices: either to become a state in which Jews would be a minority in their own country, or establish a regime that would be a disgrace to Israel and lead to civil unrest.
- It is essential therefore that the European Union, along with the United States, put pressure on both parties and help them achieve a reasonable and rapid solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. History confers on Europe a particular responsibility in this region of the world.
- While the final decision belongs to the sovereign people of Israel, our commitment to Israel as Jews of the Diaspora obliges us to work towards reaching a just solution. Systematic support of Israeli government policy is dangerous and does not serve the true interests of the state of Israel.
- Our objective is to create a European movement that will allow the voice of reason to be heard by all. This movement is non-partisan. Its aim is to ensure the survival of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. This depends on the creation of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.
We ask all those who agree with the above principles to sign and encourage others to sign this call.