dimanche 18 septembre 2011

Un regard américain sur JCall, une initiative de Juifs français et belges

Source: Standpoint Magazine (An Old Hatred Returns By Europe's Back Door, par Christopher Caldwell). Extraits:

"We [Raison Garder] have 12,000 signatures. More than J-Call. We have won — but it's they who get invited on all the radio shows."

"JCall is built around media celebrities, mostly intellectuals. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Alain Finkielkraut, David Grossman, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Pierre Nora and Henry Rousso are among them. (Its manifesto begins: "Nous, personnalités" and its founding statement is called, obnoxiously, "An Appeal to Reason" — as if those who disagree lack it.)

Like the American lobby J Street, on which it is based, JCall is meant to break the power of organised Jewish groups and create pressure on Israel to come to the negotiating table for a two-state solution. But there is a logical problem with this aspiration. France does not have powerful organised Jewish groups. It does not even have politicised ones. Some radical republicans object to President Nicolas Sarkozy's appearances before the CRIF, an umbrella group of leaders of Jewish organisations, but there is no French equivalent of, say, the America-Israel Political Action Committee (Aipac).

In America, J Street's call for more pluralism is understandable, whether one agrees or not with the group's aims — because the United States, and not just its Jewish minority, is almost monolithically pro-Israel. But in France, JCall's pressure on Israel to concede more at the bargaining table is an absurdity — there is no major force in French institutional life arguing for anything else.

JCall's first international meeting — held in June in the town hall of the 13th arrondissement, near Place d'Italie — did not convey that it had much of a raison d'être. The participants described a world in which fostering a more critical attitude towards Israel had a pressing need. One man was shouted down when he said he was a Belgian Jew who was boycotting Israel. The British sociologist Robert Fine laid out with dismay the progress boycott-Israel movements were making in Britain. Editor Meïr Waintrater expressed relief that Badiou and Hazan's book had not become a bestseller, but there was much despair that Hessel's book had made Palestine "la cause des causes" [Stéphane Hessel est pourtant très admiré par le CCLJ, le JCall belge]. Bashir al-Assad's human rights record was compared —
unfavourably — to that of Israel. None of this discussion argued for JCall's relevance. When the sociologist and documentary filmmaker Jacques Tarnero stood up to explain why he had not signed the JCall petition, you could feel a ripple of envy pass through the room.

Learned, independent, abrasive, the sociologist Shmuel Trigano holds those who support JCall in contempt — alterjuifs, he calls them. The French call anti-globalisation activists altermondialistes because of their belief that "another world is possible" — for Trigano, the alterjuifs are trying to wish their way out of their really existing Judaism. They believe that embracing "ideologies of Western self-destruction" will lead the world to treat them more kindly, but it won't, because the world tends to be implacable about such things. "This is not a Jewish problem. It is a problem of the whole of society," Trigano says, sitting in a café in Place de la République. He adds that even Israel has become a "fiefdom of post-modernism".

At his think-tank the Observatoire du Monde Juif, in his quarterly Controverses and in his many books, Trigano has theorised that Jews became a useful symbol to the political Left in the 1980s and 1990s — but useful only as victims, not as independent political actors. Against JCall's "appel à la raison" he and the political scientist Raphaël Draï set up an opposition movement called "raison garder", which translates roughly into a suggestion that one keep a level head. "We have 12,000 signatures," he says. "More than J-Call. We have won — but it's they who get invited on all the radio shows.""

(Christopher Caldwell est un journaliste américain de renom, grand reporter au Weekly Standard, mais aussi éditorialiste au New York Times et au Financial Times. Il est l'auteur de "Réflexions sur la Révolution en Europe: Immigration, Islam et l'Ouest.

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