Diaspora Jews around the world are beginning to realize that the time has come to reject the right’s dictate that being pro-Israel means that you need to support the policies of Israeli governments, no matter what they do; that the Jewish right represents a small minority of the Jewish people.
Caring about friends and family doesn’t mean that we do not criticize them, when we believe that they are harming themselves. In caring for somebody’s wellbeing, we are often required to make clear that they are going the wrong way. Hence Liberal Jews in the Diaspora firmly stand by Israel while trenchantly criticizing the occupation and settlements.
This week a delegation of J Street representatives visited Israel. They were hosted by President Shimon Peres, and they heard from central Israeli politicians like Labor MK Matan Vilnai and from opposition leader Tzipi Livni that ending the occupation is Israel’s most urgent task to safeguard it as the democratic state of the Jewish people. The Netanyahu government’s attempt to brand J Street as outside the legitimate Jewish discourse has failed, and finally, after refusing to attend J Street’s first convention, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren met them a few weeks ago.
The movement initiated by J Street is now joined by the European JCall, which includes leading Jewish intellectuals like Bernard-Henri Levy and Alain Finkielkraut, and which will present its message to the European Parliament today. Their name is short for the Jewish European Call to Reason. This development is doubly important: first, because it gives a voice to the majority of European Jews, who, while caring for Israel, are liberal in orientation. Second: because its leaders are severely critical of Europe’s anti-Israeli left, as shown in Bernard-Henri Levy’s Left in Dark Times and Alain Finkielkraut’s The Defeat of Reason.