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Support Israel?

A statement by French Jews, translated by Henri Picciotto.

Le Monde logo
April 4, 2002

In solidarity with the national and democratic rights of the Palestinian people, we refuse the military escalation.

The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) calls for a demonstration on April 7, not only to protest the attacks on places of worship, but also to "support Israel".

As the military cleansing escalates in the occupied territories, this support takes a very particular meaning. Claiming to speak in the name of Jews all over the world, the Israeli government and the community spokespeople usurp the collective memory of judeocide, and commit a theft of our heritage. Taking up the slogan of American opponents of imperial crusades, we reply: "Not in our name!" Ariel Sharon has indeed resolved, with the support of George W. Bush, to crush the Palestinian resistance, to destroy its institutions, to humiliate its leaders, and to force its people into a new exodus. The day of Easter, TV news offered us the disgusting spectacle of a US President relaxing in his informal weekend clothes, cynically demanding more effort and good will from a Yasser Arafat who was besieged, deprived of water, and illuminated by candle light! Faced with the tragic solitude of the Palestinian people, the "international community" competes in shameful betrayals and capitulations.

Israeli Labor ministers execute slavishly the worst kind of politics! The arab governments do nothing to demand respect for the rights of the Palestinian people! Quick to follow the lead of the American imperial legions in the name of international law, the European governments limit themselves at best to pious words, while Sharon's troops openly violate UN resolutions! The good souls among the intellectuals who correctly were moved by the fate of Kosovar refugees or bombings of Grozny are silent on the fate of Palestinian refugees, and wash their hands of the burned walls and the ruins of Ramallah!

Full of pre-electoral compassion towards the victims of antisemitic acts that nothing, and certainly not support for the Palestinian people, can justify, our governments are chastely silent in the face of the crimes committed by the troops of occupation in the West Bank! Those who justify a Jewish right of return to Israel, in the name of a millennial blood right, refuse land rights to Palestinians! United Nations dignitaries tolerate the humiliations inflicted on the Palestinian Authority! Those who claim to administer universal justice look away from the extra-judicial killings, the summary executions of prisoners, and Ariel Sharon's war crimes!

Having been recognized by the Palestinian Authority and by many Arab governments, the Israeli state is now irreversibly established.

But a durable peace requires mutual recognition of both peoples and their coexistence founded on equal rights. The Israelis have a sovereign state, a powerful army, a territory; the Palestinians have been relegated to camps for half a century, submitted to brutality and humiliation, besieged in a shrinking territory: as large as a French "département", the West Bank is lacerated with strategic roads, riddled with more than 700 checkpoints, covered with settlements. There is no symmetry between occupier and occupied.

The unconditional withdrawal of the Israeli army from the occupied territories, and the dismantling of the settlements would not even constitute reparation of the injustice committed towards the Palestinians, but merely the application of a right formally recognized for more than 35 years, beginning with UN resolutions 242 and 337 and including Security Council resolution 1042. In contrast, Bush demands ever more concessions and assurances from the victims. Sharon sequesters their representatives and blows up their houses, while his army blocks first aid services. This disastrous policy leads straight to catastrophe, not only for the Palestinian people, threatened with ethnic cleansing and a new exodus, but also for the Israeli people, drawn into the suicidal spiral of its leaders. For what is the future of a State founded on oppression, injustice, and crime? What is the future of a people running from its agonies and anxieties into a murderous escalation?

It could have been predicted that by assimilating Judaism with the Israeli government's policies, and by presenting Jewish institutions as semi-official embassies of Israel, the sorcerers' apprentices of Greater Israel would end up being taken at their word, which does not make attacks on synagogues and schools any less odious and unacceptable.

We condemn the attacks on a community as a community, which make Jews collectively responsible for the extortions committed by the Israeli government. We condemn any antisemitic drift in the struggle against its policies. We condemn, for reasons both moral and political, the attacks on Israeli civilians. The actions against the settlements and the occupation army, in contrast, are part of a historically legitimate resistance, and of a defense of inalienable rights. Only three months ago, the minister of the interior of Israel, Uzi Landau, announced in Le Monde (December 14, 2001) a "struggle to the death" against the Palestinians, as long as the latter have a drop of hope. This knowingly maintained despair is thus the soil in which extreme violence takes root.

While Sharon promised security to Israelis, their country has become the place in the world where Jews are least safe. Tying the fate of his people to the unlimited war on terrorism decreed by George W. Bush, it was clear that his disastrous politics would become a hellish machine to manufacture kamikazes. Denouncing any racist or antisemitic drift in France as well as in the Middle East, in solidarity with the national and democratic rights of the Palestinian people, we refuse the military escalation, and its predictable unfolding of disaster. We demand compliance with the United Nations resolutions, the unconditional withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories, the dismantling of the settlements, and the immediate recognition by the European Union of a secular and sovereign Palestinian state.

Daniel Bensaïd, Rony Brauman, Suzanne de Brunhoff, Liliane Cordova-Kaczerginsky, Marc Cramer, Joss Dray, Rachel Garbaz, Gisèle Halimi, Samuel Johsua, Francis Kahn, Pierre Khalfa, Hubert Krivine, Isabelle Kzwykowski, Dominique Lévy, Henri Maler, Willy Rozenbaum, Nicolas Shashahani, Catherine Samary, Michèle Sibony, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Olivia Zemor co-signed this text.

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