Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Is the Jewish National Fund?

Canada: Cancel the JNF Charitable Tax Status

The JNF advertises itself as an Israeli forestry, park and land charity.
But what is it really?
The Jewish National Fund was created in 1901 at the Fifth Zionist Congress in Switzerland.  Its purpose is to ‘acquire’ land to establish the Zionist state of Israel in historic Palestine, specifically “for the purpose of settling Jews on such land”.  Crucially, this land could never again be sold or leased to non-Jews.  Today the JNF enjoys charitable status in over 50 countries worldwide, including Canada.
JNF is Involved in Ethnic Cleansing & Colonization
Established as the principle Zionist tool for the colonization of Palestine1, the JNF was actively involved in exiling Palestinians prior to the proclaiming of the state of Israel in 1948:
“….The only solution is to transfer the Arabs from here to neighbouring countries. Not a single village or a single tribe must be let off.” Yossef Weitz (Head of JNF Settlement Dept) 19402
Today the JNF is complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and of the Syrian Golan Heights.
The JNF funds reservoirs and parks for settler use only in the Jordan Valley, illegally occupied by Israel,  while Palestinians there are denied access to land and water
In the Golan Heights, the JNF works  with the State of Israel to colonize Syrian land illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.
Bulldozer used to clear Bedouin village for Jewish National Fund/Israel Lands Administration (JNF/KKL)
Bedouin residents in the Negev have been forcibly relocated and refused access to their villages. Al-Araqib has been destroyed 20 times in the last year, and rebuilt by villagers and solidarity activists.8
JNF Supports Israel’s Jewish-only Policies
The JNF also has a direct role in implementing Israel’s racial purity policies, continuing the dispossession of Palestinians still living inside Israel (20% of the population). 93% of the land in Israel is public land that is allocated as either property of the state, the JNF or the Development Authority.
Al Araqib Bedouins and Israeli activists rebuilding after their homes were demolished yet again for a JNF forest.
JNF policy directly prohibiting sale or lease of land to non-Jews is, in practice, extended to all of the 93% of state land since the JNF holds the majority position in the Israel Lands Administration and Council (KKL).
The JNF now controls 2500 sq km of Palestinian land (leased to Jews only) and has planted over 100 parks on Palestinian land, many on top of Palestinian villages after their residents were driven from them.3
Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian, has referred to this massive erasure of Palestinian history as state-organized “memoricide.”
Many Jews are upset to find out the shocking truth about what their donations to the JNF funds. This is not what we are told from school-sponsored JNF campaigns to large VIP fund-raisers.
Bedouins protesting destruction of their villages.
Canadian Tax Dollars Fund Illegal JNF Activities
Because JNF Canada (JNFC) has official Canada Revenue Agency charitable status, it provides tax credits for donations, meaning that up to 25% of their budget effectively comes from our taxes4.
Canada Park:
An Egregious Example
JNF Canada raised $15 million

Palestinian village of Imwas before IDF destruction, 1958

after the 1967 war to build Canada Park, a 3200 hectares park outside of Jerusalem in the West Bank. Shamefully, this “tribute to Canada and the Canadian Jewish community”5 was built on the land of three peaceful Palestinian villages – Beit Nuba, Imwas and Yalu -
after the Israeli military razed the villages and expelled their 5,000 residents, all in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  A 1986 UN Special Committee reported to the UN Secretary-General that the villagers were being denied their right of return to their land now occupied by this park built by JNFC.
The sign at the entrance just off John Diefenbaker Parkway (Former Prime Minister Diefenbaker claimed he did not know Canada Park was in the West Bank) reads: “Welcome to Canada Park in Ayalon Valley – A project of the Jewish National Fund of Canada”.7

IDF expelling Imwas residents
Eitan Bronstein, director of Zochrot (Remembering), is committed to educating Israelis and foreign visitors about the park’s hidden past – its Palestinian history.
“In fact, though you would never realise it, none of this park is even in Israel,” he told a tour group. “This is part of the West Bank captured by Israel during the 1967 war. But the presence of Palestinians here – and their expulsion – is entirely missing from the signs.”

Canada Park now buries the Palestinian village of Imwas
JNF Canada’s website proudly declares it “has provided resources to construct new roads, develop recreation and tourist sites, and help increase [Israel’s] meagre water resources”. It fails to mention the human suffering incurred by Palestinians.
Join the world-wide and Canadian anti-JNF campaign:
Israeli, Palestinian, European and North American organizations are now campaigning against the JNF. Independent Jewish Voices is educating about and mobilizing Canadians against the JNF. The anti-JNF campaign is an exciting project for human rights.
Help End Tax-Sponsored Racism:
  • Learn, and educate others about the JNF
  • Shame Canadian government officials to meet our obligations under international law
  • Boycott and disrupt JNFC events (such as annual Negev dinners)
  • Donate to Trees for Life: planting peace in Palestine,
  • Support Independent Jewish Voices.
To Join the Campaign Contact:

This pamphlet is also based on the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign “JNF factsheet”.

1. Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p.17
2. Op.cit. p.62
3. Palestinian Land Society (2005) Financing racism and apartheid: Jewish National Fund’s violation of domestic and international law
4. Yves Engler, Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid, p.67
5. Op.cit. p.70, from a JNF brochure
7. Bob Hepburn, “Wiped off the Map”, The Toronto Star, Oct 6, 1991, p. H1
8. Harriet Sherwood, “The Israelis keep bulldozing their village, but still the Bedouin will not give up their land”, The Guardian, March 1, 2011

~reposted by Sofia Smith

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