JCall’s “Call for Reason” several months ago became the opportunity for 11,200
petitioners in Europe, but also the United States and Israel, to advocate a
different perspective on the Middle East conflict and Israeli policies. The “Be
Reasonable” statement we launched independently, with no institutional support,
reveals the existence of a broad-based, profound movement in Jewish and
non-Jewish public opinion, which runs completely counter to prevailing media
discourse in Europe and even to purportedly representative Jewish institutions.
As usual, the French media put a total blackout on what has been the most
significant phenomenon emerging from JCall’s declaration, after have lavished
attention on the latter, even though it barely managed to collect 7,000
signatures, and this despite heavy publicity and powerful connections in
opinion-making circles, including in Israel.
What motivated such a strong
opposition to this petition? Firstly, the peremptory nature of its claim to hold
a monopoly on reason, morality and honor and cast anyone who thinks otherwise
into the shadows of obscurantism. But a look at the socio-professional
composition of our declaration’s signatories shows the opposite: 165 university
professors, 56 research professors, 496 teachers, 387 engineers, 69 writers, 126
jurists and lawyers, 539 doctors, 91 journalists, 639 CEOs, 30 rabbis, 18
priests and pastors, etc. This proves that there is a sizeable component of the
middle and upper classes that challenges the prevailing discourse of
delegitimizing Israel’s existence.
It rejects the selective criticism of
Israel, at a time when the Palestinian Authority, and not only the Hamas,
continues to demonstrate, in multiple ways, its fundamental and structural
warmongering. The examples of Oslo leading to a wave of terrorism, and of the
withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza opening the way to the Hizbullah and the Hamas
are extremely telling. It was as if history had stopped 30 years ago for Peace
Now and now for JCall.
There is something pathetic about seeing political
blindness masquerading as moral grandiloquence. It merely exacerbates the
isolation of Israel and the Jewish people, in the midst of an hypocrisy of
international proportion. JCall prepared the way for the unanimous, and hence
suspect, moral condemnation of Israel after the flotilla incident.
was its immediate result. It’s not by submitting to its verdict that we will
find a solution.
On the contrary, we must fight it at the root by
reasserting the legitimacy of the Jewish people and restoring the Jewish
historical narrative to counter the claims of its detractors, which have no
scientific basis in reality. Israel is not guilty of existing. It does not carry
the weight of an “original sin.”
IN JCALL’S mindset, there’s a whole
psychological continent that draws on an ethics of self-sacrifice (or rather
sacrifice of others) in order to beg the ideologists of our time for
This mentality diametrically opposes a fundamental principle
of Zionism that alone has survived its ideological and moral crisis (since
post-Zionism is a product of Israeli society): the idea of
By calling for a solution to be “imposed” upon Israel by
governments whose pro-Palestinian stance is manifest, JCall denies this
sovereignty, in the same appalling way, unique in history, that the Geneva
Conference did in 1973. It proposes to place Israel under international
But it so happens that Israel’s sovereignty is democratic.
And democracy is not a value to be brandished narcissistically to produce an
effect. It is a procedure that must be respected, even when the results do not
satisfy us personally.
Here too, there’s something offensive about JCall’s method. What does it mean to base a moral judgement on an ethnic origin
when they express themselves “as Jews”? Or to pretend to address Israel and Jews
while actually presenting their case to Europeans, and even to the European
Parliament? This comes down to seeking the help of non- Jews to impose a
minority opinion on the majority of Jews.
Our statement marks a turning
point in public opinion and a refusal to see our voice and our identity
monopolized by a party. It is a matter of adopting not a logic
Israel but a much broader political and ideological stance, in direct
relationship to where we are. Israel has become the screen onto which
projects all of its problems and its failure to face up to the
hand, and so the question concerns Europeans as much if not more than
is why our declaration has garnered support from Jews and non-Jews
time for reserves, despondency and resignation is over.
The writer, a
professor at Paris University, is head of the Alliance Israélite
College of Jewish Studies and editor of the journals Pardès and
is the author of 18 books. http://www.shmuel-trigano.fr