It took a while for liberal European Jews to start their me-too version of J-Street. Half a year after J-Street held its inaugural conference in Washington, DC, its European equivalent (named "J-Call") will be launched at the European Parliament on May 3.
Among J-Call's initiators is Elie Barnavi, a former history professor at Tel-Aviv University and ambassador to Paris. Barnavi moved to Brussels in 2005 to run the European Museum. In an interview to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir published on April 20, he termed "illegitimate" the policy of Israel's elected government.
The text published online by J-Call makes three points: a. The status-quo is suicidal for Israel; b. Israel's leaders do not understand that the status quo is bad for their country; c. Therefore, Israel must be saved from its blind and unintelligent leaders by enlightened and critical Diaspora Jews.
In other words, Barnavi and his friends see reality better than we do and they want to help us. In truth, however, Barnavi is trying to hang on to a failed ideology by claiming to be a realist. The peace ideology of the Left is no less bankrupt than the territorial integrity ideology of the Right. Being a realist means accepting the fact that Israel can neither achieve peace with the Palestinians (a painful admission if you're from the Left) nor maintain its sovereignty over all of the historical land of Israel (a no less painful admission if you're from the Right). Rather than facing reality, the authors of J-Call are desperately hanging on to their bankrupt ideas by trying to make themselves look smart.
A closer look at their argument reveals three fallacies: a. Israel does want peace and it is not Israel that constitutes an obstacle to the two-state solution; b. The fact that the two-state solution is desirable does not mean that it is achievable; c. Israel does not need the Palestinians' agreement to deactivate the demographic ticking bomb.
The two-state solution has been accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs six times: when it was proposed by the Peel Commission in 1937, by UNSCOP in 1947, by the Camp David Agreements in 1979, by Ehud Barak in July 2000, by Bill Clinton in December 2000 and by Ehud Olmert in September 2008. Ehud Olmert accepted the establishment of a Palestinian state on all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (with land swaps), a shared sovereignty over Jerusalem, and an Israeli gesture on Palestinian refugees. Mahmoud Abbas turned down the offer and declared to The Washington Post a few months later that the gap between what Olmert offered and what the Palestinians were willing to accept was "huge."
The current Israeli government has officially endorsed the two-state solution (Netanyahu's Bar-Ilan Speech in June 2009), has called for the renewal of negotiations with the PA and has made gestures to the Palestinians by freezing Jewish construction and by removing outposts in the West Bank. It is the PA that rejects negotiations, by demanding preconditions it never demanded when it negotiated with the Barak and Olmert governments. If Israel were to demand from the PA the dismantling of refugee camps as a proof of good faith and of Palestinian renouncement to the so-called "right of return" (which happens to be intrinsically incompatible with the two-state solution), the world would accuse us of looking for excuses for not renewing negotiations.
J-Call's proponents do not seem to understand the difference between the desirability and the applicability of a solution. The fact that the two-state solution makes the most sense when compared to all its alternatives does not mean that it can actually be implemented. Indeed, as long as the Palestinians continue to reject the two-state solution, this solution will keep working in theory and failing in practice.
Fortunately, Israel does not need the Palestinians' agreement or collaboration to extricate itself from the demographic trap. In other words, Israel does not need the peace it will never get from the Palestinians in order to preserve its Jewish and democratic character. The same way that Israel did not ask the Palestinians' permission to separate itself from Gaza, it does not need the Palestinians' permission to separate itself from most of the West Bank.
Baranvi and his friends are pointing their accusing finger to the wrong person, fail to understand that wanting something is generally not enough to make it happen and do not seem to realize that Israel does not need the Palestinians' agreement to end the status-quo. By refusing to swallow the bitter truth and by compulsively holding on to their failed ideology, the J-Call signatories are no better than their political bêtes noires. Political messianism, whether from the Left or from the Right, is always about bad faith. J-Call is a call to bad faith, so just hang up.
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