What Is the JNF?
The Jewish National Fund was created in 1901 at the Fifth Zionist Congress in Switzerland. Its purpose has always been to ‘acquire’ land “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. While it claims to be an environmental charity, it operates as a quasi-governmental body in Israel.
The JNF- Historic and Present-day Land theft
Established as the principle Zionist tool for controlling land in Palestine, the JNF was actively involved in Palestinian dispossession prior to the establishment 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) 1940
Today, the JNF is complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, supporting West Bank settlements and settlers in East Jerusalem. The JNF funds infrastructure for illegal settlements in the Jordan Valley—located deep in the West Bank. While these settlements expand with the aid of the JNF, more water and lands are being stolen from the Palestinians. In illegally-annexed East Jerusalem, the JNF, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Himnuta, has been evicting Palestinians from their homes and providing these properties to the settler organization, Elad.
The JNF Supports Israel’s Discriminatory Policies
The JNF also has a direct role in implementing Israel’s discriminatory policies against its Palestinian citizens, 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.
13% of the land in Israel is under the control of the JNF, and the JNF has much influence over the control of the remaining 80% of public lands. Under the JNF’s charter, it is prohibited from selling or leasing land to non-Jews.
Canadian Tax Dollars Fund Illegal JNF Activities
Because JNF-Canada 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 taxes.
Canada Park: An Egregious Example
JNF-Canada raised $15 million after the 1967 war to build Canada Park, a 3200 hectares park between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Shamefully, this “tribute to Canada and the Canadian Jewish community” 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 JNF-Canada.
JNF is uprooting Bedouins to Plant trees
Palestinian Bedouin residents in the Negev are being forcibly relocated and refused access to their villages and lands under the highly controversial Begin-Prawer Plan. The Bedouin village of Al-Araqib has been destroyed over 60 times already. It is one of 35 ‘unrecognized’ Bedouin villages in Israel, and therefore receives no municipal services such as access to an electrical grid, water, paved roads, hospitals, schools or other basic services. The JNF, with support from Christian Evangelical ‘God-TV’, has planted trees on land claimed by the villagers of Al-Araqib, and plan on using the land that the village is on for a ‘God-TV forest’. According to a coalition of Bedouin and Jewish human rights groups,
“The JNF, instead of promoting civic equality for all Israelis – the basis for trust and peaceful co-existence – is now supporting (and being supported by) an evangelical ministry that wishes to utilise Israel and the planting of trees to bring about the Second Coming of Christ.”
It is through the Begin-Prawer Plan, a proposed law that aims to destroy 35 ‘unrecognized’ Bedouin villages and confine between 40,000 and 70,000 Bedouin into confined urban townships, that Al-Araqib is repeatedly destroyed. The JNF, through its project ‘Blueprint Negev’, is planting forests and establishing Jewish-only settlements over the ruins of these Bedouin villages. The Begin-Prawer Plan has been condemned by the European Union, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, over 90 Canadian authors, and many others. The JNF’s ‘Blueprint Negev’ works hand in glove with the Begin-Prawer Plan.
Take Action to Revoke the Jewish National Fund of Canada’s Charitable Status Now!
- Sign our e-mail petition to the Minister of National Revenue, and party leaders Thomas Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May: http://ijvcanada.org/revoke-jnf-charitable-status-petition/
- Print off a copy of our petition to the Government of Canada and gather written signatures. You only need to gather signatures starting on the second and subsequent pages. Click on the link to downolad a copy: JNF Revocation Petition
- Download our information pamphlet about the JNF, and use this to convince others to sign our petitions!: Expose the JNF pamplet
- Encourage organizations that you’re affiliated with to endorse our ‘Expose the JNF’ statement, aimed to build support a grassroots campaign to revoke JNF-Canada’s charitable status: Statement of Endorsement for IJV’s ‘Expose the JNF’ campaign
The Toronto Star received numerous letters from IJV members and supporters, who are appalled by the honouring of Stephen Harper by the Jewish National Fund of Canada. These letters were submitted in response to the article Bird interpretive centre in Israel to be named after Stephen Harper. The Star published the following two letters by IJV members:
The Star reported that the Jewish National Fund (JNF) “has helped the Jewish state acquire land, extend settlement, and rehabilitate the environment,” but it does not mention that the organization is very controversial, since it acquired much of this land from dispossessed Palestinians, has covered up demolished Palestinian villages with recreational parks and forests, and that it practices racial discrimination in the provision of land and housing by only leasing its land to Jews.
Most disturbing is JNF Canada’s project, Ayalon Canada Park, built over the ruins of two depopulated and destroyed Palestinian villages — Imwas and Yalu — as well as over the lands of the destroyed village of Beit Nuba.
Our politicians and banks should not be endorsing Palestinian dispossession. Independent Jewish Voices’ campaign to expose the JNF is a much-needed initiative for peace and justice.
Tyler Levitan, Campaigns Coordinator, Independent Jewish Voices—Canada, Ottawa
Your article errs when it states that “the Jewish community of Toronto plans to honour Harper.” The Jewish community is not monolithic and many, probably most, of Toronto’s Jews do not support Steven Harper.
I am an active member of the Toronto Jewish community and I certainly do not wish to honour Mr. Harper, for either his domestic or his Middle East policies.
The JNF, which is honouring Mr. Harper, is only one of very many Jewish community organizations. It is — and, as a Canadian Jew. I write this with sadness — one of the more hawkish and, frankly, racist Jewish organizations around.
It actively discriminates against non-Jews acquiring or leasing land in Israel. It is very active in the dispossession of Bedouin from their traditional lands in Israel’s southern desert (the Negev). And it purchases land for, and otherwise supports, Jewish-only settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, which exasperates whatever slim chances there are for a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.
By accepting an honour from the JNF, Mr. Harper is tacitly supporting the JNF’s agenda. This is an agenda that most Canadians, and most Canadian Jews, reject.
Sydney Nestel, Toronto
IJV Canada’s Campaigns Coordinator, Tyler Levitan, interviewed on Media Mornings about the racist JNF, and the Harper government’s protection of JNF-Canada from public scrutiny.
Skip to 43:25 to listen to the interview: http://w2radio.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/media-mornings-wed-jun-26/