Although this is pretty weak and the signatories can’t bring themselves to utter the necessary criticisms – a state can’t be both Jewish and democratic – perhaps we shouldn’t be too harsh, it’s a welcome development:
More than 3,000 European Jews, including prominent intellectuals, have signed a petition speaking out against Israeli settlement policies and warning that systematic support for the Israeli government is dangerous.
The petition’s signatories include French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a Greens leader in the European Parliament.
Supporters, who compare their goals to those of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel Jewish lobbying group in the United States, plan to present their position at a news conference at the European Parliament in Brussels tomorrow.
They say they hope to build a European movement that is both “committed to the state of Israel and critical of the current choices of its government”.
Israeli columnist Yossi Sarid, a former Cabinet minister identified with Israel’s peace movement, praised the initiative in an comment piece published in the Haaretz daily today.
“These are people who seize every opportunity to defend Israel publicly and remain faithful to it,” he wrote. “But even their patience is running out and their hearts are filled with sincere concern.”
Israel’s foreign ministry declined to comment because the initiative is not government-sponsored.
Many signatories are from France, where the petition has received much press coverage. France’s Jewish community has hotly debated the petition, entitled Call for Reason.
But the president of France’s leading Jewish association, CRIF, declined to sign, saying he objected to some of its language and its tone.
“Do Israelis need the Jewish Diaspora to know what is ‘the right’ decision, what should be the borders of a country that their sons and daughters are protecting?” Richard Prasquier wrote in Le Figaro newspaper.
The petition says Israel faces a threat 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,” it sayings, adding that “systematic support of Israeli government policy is dangerous and does not serve the true interests of the state of Israel”.