Challenge the Jewish National Fund (JNF)
Registered as an official Canadian charity,
the Jewish National Fund (JNF) is a charity like no other.
Funded by private, tax-deductible, donations, it is in fact the official arm of the Israeli government Land Authority. The JNF is based on the removal and permanent exclusion of all non-Jews from all Israeli-controlled land.
JNF Canada’s continuing tax-exempt charitable status has Canadian tax payers unwittingly participating in the on-going eviction of Palestinian families from their homes by illegal Jewish settlers, the occupation of East Jerusalem, destruction of villages, orchards and productive agricultural land, and the displacement of the inhabitants.
IJV Video exposes JNF
Letter from Rabbi David Mivisair:
Help us to end Canadian tax-payers role in this injustice.
Independent Jewish Voices is committed to supporting the global campaign to end the JNF excluding and destroying the livelihoods of the non-Jewish citizens of Israel, and those living under Israeli occupation.
Join us in exposing JNF Canada.
News report by Lia Tarachansky, IJV member and the Israeli correspondent for the Real News Network.
Tarachansky is a Russian-Israeli-Canadian who grew up in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
December 26, 2011
Israeli Tree Campaign “Judaizes” Expropriated Land
Jewish National Fund’s practice of selling and leasing land exclusively to Jewish owners is met with growing opposition
Transcript available here
In Watershed, Israel Deems Land-use Rules of Zionist Icon ‘Discriminatory’
JNF Scored Over ‘Jews-only’ Sales
Published February 04, 2005, issue of February 04, 2005.In a landmark decision, Israel’s attorney general ruled last week that one of the fundamental tenets upon which the Jewish state was built — acquiring and reserving land for Jews to live on — is discriminatory and should not continue with state assistance.Attorney General Menachem Mazuz was responding to a Supreme Court case involving Jewish National Fund, an organization that helped build the Jewish state by purchasing land for Jewish settlement — largely with funds donated by Jews in America. Land owned by the fund is designated as public land and leased by the government to homeowners. In his January 26 ruling, Mazuz said that the government may no longer market the land if the fund allows only Jewish tenants.Among American Jews, Jewish National Fund is best known for its iconic blue tin collection boxes and for its trademark work planting trees in Israel. But the fund helped write Israeli history with its land purchases, which were crucial in determining the borders of the nascent state. Today, JNF owns 13% of Israel’s land, home to 70% of the population. Through a 1962 agreement with the government, it has leased that land to Jews through the government’s Israel Land Authority. The attorney general’s decision throws that historic role into flux.The chairman of JNF told the Forward that his organization is in talks to sever its official relationship with the state in order to preserve its mission of protecting the land for Jews.
“The state is obliged to treat all its citizens equally,” Chairman Yehiel Leket said, “but we are not the state.”
Beyond the consequences for JNF, the attorney general’s ruling could be pivotal in a larger debate over how to reconcile Israel’s status as a Jewish state with its commitment to equal rights for all its citizens. This is not the first case in which the government’s treatment of Israeli Arabs has been challenged, but legal experts say this case could be a breakthrough for advocates of Israeli Arab rights, who have long complained of unequal government treatment.
“You’ll see a progression of cases now, trying to challenge those pockets of discrimination that now have a basis in law,” said Hebrew University law professor David Kretzmer, author of the “The Legal Status of Arabs in Israel.” “One by one they will come up, and we will have to work out a new kind of social contract.”
Aside from debates over land rights, citizenship rights are the other main arena in which Israel’s treatment of its Arab citizens faces challenges. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing a challenge to a recent Israeli law that bars non-Jewish spouses of Israeli citizens from coming to live in Israel under family reunification policy.
Many defenders of the traditional vision of Zionism, including Leket, fear that extending identical land and citizenship rights to Arabs could weaken Israel’s Jewish majority and threaten its Jewish character.
Leket appears to have public opinion on his side. In a poll commissioned by JNF last month, 70% of respondents moderately or strongly objected to JNF land being offered to Arab Israelis.
The issue of land rights in Israel heated up recently when the Bush administration protested a plan, disclosed two weeks ago, to confiscate lands in East Jerusalem that are owned by Palestinians living in the West Bank. The plan, drafted last June by a two-man Cabinet committee on Jerusalem, including ministers Natan Sharansky and Zevulun Orlev, treats Jerusalem property owned by West Bank Palestinians as “absentee property” under 1948 rules aimed at Arab refugees. Mazuz ruled Monday that the absentee rules could not apply to individuals separated from their land by a “unilateral” Israeli government action.
The absentee dispute does not involve Israeli citizens, however, so it has fewer implications for the Israeli legal landscape than the JNF case. The complaint against JNF stems from April 2004, when six Israeli Arab families won Lands Authority bids for plots in the Galilee town of Carmiel. Later, after learning that the plots were owned by JNF, the authority froze the deal, citing fund rules.
Leaders of American groups that supported the Arab families’ legal appeal acknowledged that there were sound historical reasons for JNF restrictions. “In 1948 and before, a few hundred thousand Jews were pitching their tents in a hostile Middle East,” said Ami Nahshon, president of the New York-based Abraham Fund Initiatives.
But he said historical circumstances have changed, and so should JNF. “History doesn’t stand still,” Nahshon said, “and the need for Israel to work out the sharing of the land with Arab Israelis is all part of the process of maturing.”
For now, the attorney general is permitting the Lands Authority to go on marketing JNF land as long as it swaps parcels of land with the fund when an Israeli Arab wins a bid, ensuring JNF control of a consistent percentage of Israel’s land. The compromise is opposed by Arab-rights groups that brought the case.
Leket said that in order to maintain its mission, the fund has initiated talks to cut ties with the government and to begin marketing its own land.
Israel, unlike America, has no clear laws limiting private landowners’ discretion in how they market their land. But experts said a privatized Jewish National Fund would likely still face legal challenges, in part because of the intricate web that connects JNF to the state. One key link is the 1960 Basic Law that defines all JNF land as “Israel lands” along with the 80% of the country’s land owned by the government.
Because of these links, said Supreme Court justice Itzhak Zamir, a former Israeli attorney general, privatization is “not very realistic.”
Even if official ties are severed, further problems could be created by the source of some JNF land. Some 60% of the fund’s 550,000 acres was purchased from the government in a special deal soon after the 1948 War of Independence. Arab-rights advocates say this should preclude JNF from marketing this land only to Jews.
“It can’t be regarded as private land, where the Jewish National Fund will be given a free hand to do whatever it pleases,” said Dan Yakir, chief legal counsel for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, one of groups that brought the case.
Leket, however, said the fund had fairly bought the land it owns, with donations from Jews round the world — donations that were “designated for the purchase of land to be owned by the Jewish people and held in trust by the Jewish National Fund.” He said he would not allow that historic covenant to be broken.
“We are still fighting for our future existence as a Jewish state,” Leket said. “In order to strengthen the Jewish state it’s justified to have a Jewish organization strengthening our presence here.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron drops Israel ‘racist’ charity
27 May 2011
Stop the JNF Campaign: Media Release
Prime Minister David Cameron has quietly terminated his status as an Honorary Patron of the controversial Jewish National Fund (JNF). His office confirmed he had “stepped down”. For many years leaders of all three main political parties became Honorary Patrons of the JNF by convention. According to Dick Pitt, a spokesperson for the Stop the JNF Campaign, “Cameron was the only leader of the three major parties remaining as a JNF Patron. This decline in political support for the JNF at the highest levels of the political tree may be a sign of the increasing awareness in official quarters that a robust defence of the activities of the JNF may not be sustainable.”
The news of Cameron’s move has reached Palestinians in refugee camps, people whose land is under the control of the JNF. Salah Ajarma in Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp was “delighted to hear the news that the British Prime Minister has decided to withdraw his support for this sinister organisation involved in ethnic cleansing. My village, Ajjur, was taken by force from my family and given to the JNF who used money from JNF UK to plant the British Park on its ruins. For the Palestinians who were evicted from their villages and have been prevented from returning, Cameron’s withdrawal is another victory on the road to achieving justice and freedom for the Palestinians”.
The JNF chairman Samuel Hayek defends the work of the organisation saying, “for over 100 years we have had one mission: to settle and develop the Land of Israel” as pioneers of the “historic Zionist dream”. The registered charity claims their work, especially in the Negev region of Israel, deals with “the rising demographic challenges faced by Israel”. In recent months the JNF’s activities in the Negev have received extensive international media coverage, linking them to the demolition of Palestinian Bedouin villages and confiscation of the land of the village. Campaigners report that “even Israeli courts have criticised the JNF as an organisation that discriminates against non-Jews and there is mounting evidence of the JNF’s involvement in Israel’s programme to change the ethnic composition of areas inside 1948 Israel as well as in Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories. It is not acceptable that such an organisation is allowed to operate in the UK, much less to enjoy charity status”.
Michael Kalmanovitz, UK co-ordinator of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, said “Cameron’s patronage of the JNF lent parliamentary credibility to a criminal organisation backed by a highly-equipped occupying army and masquerading as a ‘humanitarian charity’. Now parliamentarians who are ‘Friends of Israel’ must consider how much longer they can defend Israeli apartheid and worse.”
Pressure has been mounting on Cameron and the JNF. An Early Day Motion in the Westminster Parliament highlighted the Prime Minister’s status as honorary patron and claimed that “there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF’s charitable status in the UK”. UK and international JNF fund-raising events increasingly face protests due, campaigners argue, to “a shift in public opinion on Israel generally”. In 2007, the American JNF application for consultative status on a key UN committee was rejected because delegates were unable to distinguish between the activities of the US Branch and those of the JNF in Israel whose activities the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concerns about.
The Stop the JNF Campaign has workshops planned in London on 4 June 2011 and protests against JNF fundraising activities will be organised throughout the coming year.
Notes for editors:
1. The Stop the JNF Campaign is an international campaign aimed at ending the role of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeIsrael) (JNF-KKL) in:
1. the on-going displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their land
2. the theft of their property
3. the funding of historic and present day colonies, and
4. the destruction of the natural environment.
The JNF continues to serve as a global fundraiser for Israeli ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid. Despite its role in a State institution of Israel (the Israel Land Authority) and in institutionalized racism and apartheid, the JNF and its affiliate organizations enjoy charitable status in over 50 countries.
2. Email from Prime Minister’s Press Office, Thu, 26 May 2011
Following the formation of the Coalition Government last year, a review
was undertaken of all the organisations and charities the Prime Minister
was associated with. As a result of this review, the Prime Minister
stepped down from a number of charities – this included the JNF. A full
list of all the charities and organisations the Prime Minister and Mrs
Cameron are associated with is published on the Cabinet Office website.
Prime Minister’s Press Office
10 Downing Street
020 7930 4433
3. ‘Cameron Becomes New JNF Patron’, TotallyJewish.com, 2nd February 2006
4. Extract from ‘The British Park’ by Uri Davis, JNF e-book volume 1, p21
“The JNF-UK, as in other countries in Europe and the Americas, is a registered charity. The planting of the British Park over the lands of destroyed Palestinian villages, including Ajjur and Zakariyya, can in no way be described as ‘charitable’. Rather it ought to be classified as an act and as a policy of complicity with war crimes. The British Park and the recreational facility developed in the shade of its forest trees serve to veil from critical public view war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli army in the course of, and in the wake of, the 1948 war. This policy of
complicity with war crimes has been maintained by subsequent Israeli Governments, underpinned by Acts of Parliament such as the Jewish National Fund Law of 1950 and the Covenant signed between the JNF and the state of Israel in 1961.”
5. Samuel Hayek in ‘Supporting Israel for Life’, JNF Charitable Trust, Annual Report & Accounts 2009
6. The JNF in the Negev (Naqab)
‘Shattering Israel’s image of ‘democracy’’, The Guardian, 3 December 2009
‘Cameron-backed charity accused of discriminating against non-Jews’, 10 June 2010
‘The Israelis keep bulldozing their village, but still the Bedouin will not give up their land’, The Guardian, 1 March 2011
‘Stop creating forests that are destroying Bedouin lives’, Amnesty International, 11 April 2011
7. The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
8. Early day motion 1677, JEWISH NATIONAL FUND, Session: 2010-11
“That this House welcomes the Stop the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Campaign launched on 30 March 2011 by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others to inform the public about the JNF – Karen Kayemet L’Yisrael, its ongoing illegal expropriation of Palestinian land, concealing of destroyed Palestinian villages beneath parks and forests, and prevention of refugees from returning to their homes; notes that the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews; further notes that the UN rejected the JNF USA’s application for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council on the ground that it violates the principles of the UN Charter on Human Rights; regrets that the Prime Ministeris a JNF honorary patron; and believes that there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF’s charitable status in the UK.”
9. UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) rejects JNF (US) application for consultative status (2007)
- Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC/6267 NGO/618, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/ecosoc6267.doc.htm
- Badil resources centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights: http://www.badil.org/en/article74/item/429-the-jewish-national-fund-jnf
- CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (para19),http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/041AB84D2F05080C85257302004A9963