In Favor of JEF Europe’s resolution on Israel and Palestine

, by Dvir Aviam Ezra

In Favor of JEF Europe's resolution on Israel and Palestine
Nizzan Cohen, CC BY 4.0 <> , via Wikimedia Commons

This article was prepared as part of the participation project of TNF in the activities of JEF Europe’s Political Commissions

As an Israeli-Dutch citizen, I moved back to Europe (Germany) from Tel Aviv on October 3, 2023, for a PhD program. On October 7, I woke up on 8 am for vague report on rocket barrages, kidnappings, and “incursions.” What followed were some of the worst weeks of my life. Several friends of mine, some of which seasoned peace activists, lost family, friends, partners to the massacre.

The following Israeli attack on Gaza, which I deem disproportional, then led to the deaths of thousands of civilians, including the families of Palestinian peace activists.

Trust and belief in peace and a shared future has all but disappeared from Israel and Palestine and as a peace activist for 12 years, I can say that contact between Israelis and Palestinians is at all time low.

Shortly after October 7, the JEF Europe executive board reached out to me and asked for a call. This launched an intense journey towards a political decision – to pass a resolution on Israel and Palestine. The process had its highs and lows but it culminated in the final text being approved by the JEF Europe Federal Committee in Tartu, Estonia, on 14/4, by a large majority. The deliberations included interventions by me and other JEF affiliated activists from the region, public calls, panels with experts, and backdoor and late-night negotiations on the exact phrasing of the resolution.

The resolution, which in my opinion is written very well, is elaborate and long, as befitting such a complex subject. However, for me there were two main political questions to be answered:
  Whether we should call for a permanent ceasefire?
  Whether we should clearly condemn Hamas’ atrocities and conduct throughout this war?

With regards to the first question, the question of a ceasefire may appear trivial, who does not want an end to this war? However, as we see in practice, political decision makers have hard time calling for a permanent end to the war. For example, the EU parliament called for a ceasefire only subject to the release of all hostages (a justified demand by itself) which unfortunately renders such a ceasefire quite unlikely. The UN security council only managed to reach a diluted recommendation for a ceasefire (or else risk an American veto). In other words, most western countries remain loyal to the idea which provides Israel with a free hand to continue this war until the achievement of its political and military objectives. This idea may come from well-meaning friends, but as an Israeli, I do not agree with this approach. This war lacks achievable political objectives because the current Israeli government is held captive by far-right parties who oppose any Palestinian self-determination and prevent honest negotiations on prisoners release.

Furthermore, the conduct of the war has been destructive not only towards Gaza and its innocent civilians and the prospects for peace in the region but also towards Israel’s legitimacy, morality, and human rights safeguards. In other words, under current circumstances, true friends save friends, even from themselves and true friends of Israel and the Jewish people should strive for a ceasefire, because the continuation of this war in its current form will only result in more death and destruction. That is because this war is managed by a government which has lost all credibility and trust, even from the majority of Israeli citizens. Thus, the inclusion of the call for a permanent ceasefire in our resolution is brave and commendable, representing a bold call for peace and cessation of hostilities under difficult circumstances and a fragmented international community.

As for the second question, it may also appear easy to answer, who cannot but condemn the blatant and brutal murder of civilians and the accompanying sexual violence and hostage taking? However, here we also see that in practice, those organizations that do, in fact, call for a permanent ceasefire, are also those that sadly have engaged in trivialization by belittling and denying the war crimes that took place. Several organizations issued such one sided statements, avoiding or barely mentioning such war crimes, and triggering outrage and disillusionment among many Israelis, even those that sincerely support peace and an end to the occupation.

Which is why our resolution, clearly condemning Hamas’ conduct in unequivocal terms, is earnest and consistent. We make clear, despite the emotions involved, that no oppression justifies violence towards civilians, and that respect to international law and human rights are paramount in any political struggle for freedom. In an increasingly polarized political environment, where many organizations focus on the suffering of one side, JEF Europe managed, together with the help of local actors from both sides, achieve a balanced resolution, and pass it with a strong mandate.

Of course, certain disagreements remain. Most amendments submitted by JEF Germany, for example, were approved, but some where not, and its representative ultimately abstained in the final vote. Some also argued that dealing with the conflict is beyond JEF’s mandate, and urged against passing any resolution. However, compared to the dynamics in other youth organizations, such as the extremist rhetoric recently heard in an event at the European Youth Forum, our discussion in the FC was civil and productive. It included listening, not shouting, compromising and not entrenching, and values – not political opportunism.

I hope that the JEF network will remain a safe space for its Jewish and Muslim members. I am hopeful that in the future, we will remain engaged in the peace process in the Middle East. JEF Europe has successfully tackled important international issues, showcasing our commitment to global peace and human rights.

I also want to thank the chairs of PC3, Samuel Tammekann and Federico Tosi, for running this process in a fair and inclusive way, and to the President of JEF Europe, Christelle Savall, for her deep and continious engagement with this topic.

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