What's this organization about? For one, stemming the flow of delegitimation of the state of Israel in European political discourse. Well, that doesn't deserve to be scoffed at, which is particularly clear if you read the comments on the Le Monde blog post. But I find this part of their charter most interesting:
"Si la décision ultime appartient au peuple souverain d’Israël, la solidarité des Juifs de la Diaspora leur impose d’œuvrer pour que cette décision soit la bonne. L’alignement systématique sur la politique du gouvernement israélien est dangereux car il va à l’encontre des intérêts véritables de l’État d’Israël."
"While the ultimate decision belongs to the sovereign people of Israel, the solidarity of Diaspora Jews pushes them to work to find a good solution. The systematic alignment [of Diaspora Jews] with the policy of the Israeli government is dangerous, since it runs the risk of going against the true interests of the State of Israel."
Many will find the presumption of BHL and Cohn-Bendit to know "what's best for Israel" sickening. But I think the question of the alignment of interests is a serious one. It's also at stake in Amos's criticism of Roger Cohen's NYT column today (see below). Cohen's point there is that old one about a disconnect between the way Israelis see things, chiefly their security threats, and the way other stakeholders do, namely, the Americans, and implicitly, Diaspora Jews, and so on. I doubt that BHL and Cohn-Bendit can "disalign" mainline European Jewish organizations from official Israeli policy positions. Europe isn't fertile ground for another J Street.