JCall brings together Jewish European citizens who are deeply attached to Israel’s existence and security, while at the same time are very concerned for its future. JCall does not underestimate external threats to Israel, but it considers that the state is endangered by its occupation of the West Bank, along with the steady growth of the settlements both there and in the Arab areas of East Jerusalem. Moreover, this policy increasingly weakens and isolates Israel internationally by diminishing its reputation in the eyes of global public opinion.
We consider that only the end of occupation and the creation of a viable Palestinian state will guarantee the long-term sustainability of Israel as a democratic state with a Jewish majority, and restore its deserved position among nations.
JCall is an independent initiative of European Jews who wish to make their voices heard. It has no connection with any Israeli movement or party. The initiators and signatories of JCall do not contest in any way the legitimacy and representative qualities of Jewish institutional organisations. They wish only to differentiate themselves from their all-too-often unconditional support of Israeli policies.
They claim the right to express their views when they feel that these policies threaten the very interests of the State. At the same time, they strongly oppose the campaigns to delegitimize Israel as a state that are now developing in many European countries.
JCall wishes to open a debate on Israel’s future with the Jewish communities of Europe, and to create a movement of opinion to ensure that reason eventually prevails over passion.
Increasingly, Jewish European citizens are reacting against specific campaigns questioning the very essence of the state of Israel, and are unable to differentiate these attacks from legitimate criticism of Israeli policies, similar to criticism directed at any other state. We claim that, faced with this situation, the temptation to withdraw into oneself should be resisted. Through our commitment, we wish to demonstrate that it is possible to fight both the heinous and illegitimate condemnations of Israel, as well as the Israeli government’s policies when we consider that it has made mistakes.
By placing itself above partisan splits, JCall wishes to appeal to European heads of diplomacy to use their influence with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority as the United States do already, so as to achieve a reasonable and swift settlement of the conflict.
JCall is very aware that it is up to Israeli and Palestinian leaders alone to negotiate and take political decisions, but it wishes to promote a solution acceptable for both parties, which would be the only guarantee of a lasting agreement.
2018: Who are we today ?
The “call for reason” that resulted in the creation of JCall was launched in April 2010.
It is still broadly valid today, which shows that, unfortunately, the aim we were pursuing then has not been reached: two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side, in good terms with each other, established more or less according to 1949 Armistice borders, with Jerusalem as capital for both States. Today, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories continues while colonization is developing, which leads to serious frustrations, resentment, and outbursts of violence among Palestinian populations. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has been in office for ten years or so, with the support of a majority of Israelis who regard him as the best bulwark against terrorism and external dangers threatening Israel, while the left fails to win the trust and confidence of the people.
In the face of this stalled situation, JCall, having no ties to Israeli political parties whatsoever, wants to keep gathering Jewish Europeans, regardless of their political sensitivities. Without questioning at all the Israelis’ electoral choices, our movement hopes to achieve the Two State Solution, the only way to prevent a future annexation of the West Bank, with the risks it would imply for Israel: either a real apartheid against Palestinians, or a bi-national State in which Jews may be a minority, which would be the opposite of the goals of Zionism we remain steadfastly committed to. It is in fact the reason why we fight BDS (“Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions”) which, on the pretext of combating colonization, campaigns for the delegitimization and the demise of the State of Israel.
Meanwhile, the world has changed a lot since 2010, which poses new challenges to us. In the Middle East, the Arab Spring which sparked so much hope in 2011 has led to a repression and an atrocious war pursued by the Syrian regime against its population (300 000 dead, millions of refugees), a chaotic situation in Yemen, and a new military dictatorship in Egypt. Unlike al-Qaida, ISIS wanted to acquire a territorial base and succeeded to earn the support of many Muslims in the whole world, including Europe. Iran, for its part, in spite of its 2015 deal with the world powers, cancelled today by the United States, still poses a threat to Sunnite States and to Israel, which led these countries to come closer together. Furthermore, Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital gave wings to Benyamin Netanyahu’s goverment: the Prime Minister had the Knesset pass a law on the Nation-State that, unlike the Independence Declaration, omits the Jewish State’s commitment to democracy. JCall stands up against that text and against other plans to destroy freedom which lead Israel to become more and more like an “illiberal democacy” similar to Erdogan’s Turkey or Orban’s Hungary.
In the diaspora, the situation of Jews has seriously deteriorated almost everywhere because of the rise of antisemitism, resulting from three sources: the extreme right and the populisms gathering momentum in Europe as well as in the United Staes or in Brazil; the anti-Israeli left, lapsing into antisemitism through anti-Zionism (see Jeremy Corbin and a large fraction of the British Labour Party); and most of all, Islamist circles choosing Jews as their prime targets (attacks against Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse in 2012, against the Jewish museum of Brussels in 2014, against Vincennes Hypercacher in 2015, and more recently Sarah Halimi and Mireille Knoll’s murders). These attacks, unprecedented in Europe since 1945, lead the Jewish communities to become withdrawn and to leave “sensitive neighbourhoods” for safer areas, or to make aliyah because of their fear. JCall stands besides all Jews, whatever their opinions may be, in the fight against antisemitism, no matter where it comes from, in the same way as it fights all forms of racism or discrimination, no matter who the victims are.