(More) Jews against Jews

JCall will give succor to Israel’s enemies.

At last, Daniel Cohn-Bendit has come out of the closet – after decades confusingly claiming to be either French or German, he has finally acknowledged his Jewishness. Unfortunately it was for the wrong reason. Apparently, some 3,000 or more European Jewish intellectuals, some of them genuine, others self-anointed, have signed a petition titled “Call for Reason,” warning “that utter support for the Israeli Government is dangerous.”
One may assume that many, perhaps most, of the signatories including such well-known luminaries as Bernard-Henri Levy and Alain Finkielkraut (as well as Mr. Cohn-Bendit), consider themselves friends of Israel, while others may think that they do the right thing by humanity – all of which they presumably believe gives them a right to claim to know better than the majority of Israelis what the true interests of the State of Israel should be.
Obviously, democracy and the will of the people do not carry much weight with them, at least not as far as the Jewish state is concerned. According to press reports, the organization they established, “JCall,” wants to pattern itself on the American “J-Street” – which has been in the news recently for vilifying Eli Wiesel for his stand on Jerusalem.
Reportedly, the person behind the new initiative was none other than Tel Aviv University professor and former Israeli laborite Ambassador to France, Elie Bar-Navie, which raises a question not just about some of the lecturers at our universities, but more seriously, about the sort of person who can sometimes be appointed to represent Israel abroad.
The issue is not that Israeli or non-Israeli Jews criticize this or that policy of the government of Israel, including on settlements or anything else – but that those people either out of naïvité and ignorance, or perhaps because of a visceral hatred of the leader whom Israelis have chosen as their prime minister, deliberately pour oil on the flames of the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish campaign spreading around the world, including many of the Western European countries in which they reside.
The present government, like all its predecessors, has taken important and often difficult steps to advance peace with the Palestinians, some of them incurring potential risks to the country’s security, while the supposedly moderate Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas is not even prepared to acknowledge the Jewish people’s right to a state of its own.
DO THESE Jewish intellectuals really believe that the threat from a rapidly nuclear going Iran which makes no secret of its intention to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, or the campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel, and in some cases even the very existence of the Jewish people, have anything to do with the 1,600 planned new housing units in a Jewish quarter of Jerusalem or with the settlements which cover less than 5% of the “territories”?
As Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations as well as former senior US officials like Richard Haass and Aaron Miller, who were closely involved over many years with trying to move the peace process forward, have commented, putting pressure on Israel at this time, will not only not help peace, but is bound to make the Iranians even more adamant and extremist than before.
After all, what was the effect, either on peace or on Iran’s and its proxies’ aggressive designs and actions from Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza – including the thousands of Hamas rockets raining down on Israeli citizens?
Whatever its intentions, the only possible outcome of JCall will be giving succor to Israel’s enemies, and instead of strengthening the unity Jews always need in order to defeat the threats facing them, divide them. Memories are short; in the years before World War II, there were those Jewish intellectuals (as well as certain rabbis) who castigated the Zionist Movement for warning the Jews of Europe about the approaching holocaust.
While a strong and united State of Israel, with the support of, hopefully, a majority of enlightened world opinion, is determined never to allow such a thing ever happening again, Jews cannot afford to engage in hurtful recriminations.
But some people apparently never learn. A number of recent books have reminded us of Hannah Arendt who defended the Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger in spite of his commitment to Hitler’s heinous designs on the Jews. The disingenuous statement of JCall’s founder, David Chemla, that “we are not saying that only Israel is responsible for the problem” (i.e. the lack of progress towards peace) – thus implying that on the whole it is – cannot but remind us of the above Arendt’s indicting some of her fellow Jews for being at least partly responsible themselves for what befell them.
Fortunately, though this wasn’t reported by either the international or the left-leaning Israeli media, a much larger number of European Jewish intellectuals and public persons, headed by Professor Trigano and a member of the Italian parliament, Fiama Nirenstein, quickly signed a counter petition, condemning JCall’s one-sided blame-game against Israel.
The writer is the former Israel Ambassador to the US, and currently heads the Prime Minister’s forum of US-Israel Relations.