Stop the JNF – Call for Action

 

 

Representatives of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Canada Palestine Association and other organisations met in Edinburgh in May 2010 and issued the following call for action.

 

 

The Jewish National Fund [1] was instrumental in the ethnic cleansing [2] of Palestine in the 1948 Nakba, and continues to play a central role in maintaining Israel's regime of apartheid [3]. The JNF provided political, financial and intelligence [4] support for the Zionist forces in their conquest, massacres and ethnic cleansing operations that characterized the 1948-49 war and the Palestinian Nakba. Today, the JNF controls vast properties belonging to millions of Palestinians, developing them exclusively for persons of “Jewish nationality”, a concept established and promoted in the JNF’s charter to exclude all others.

 

The JNF was created in 1901 to acquire land and property rights in Palestine and beyond for exclusive Jewish settlement. While indigenous Palestinians are barred from leasing [5], building on, managing or working their own land, the JNF holds the land in trust for “those of Jewish race or descendency” living anywhere in the world to “promote the interests of Jews in the prescribed region” [6].

 

To ensure such racist control over the majority of confiscated Palestinian lands, Israel adopted the JNF model of discriminatory land management as official state policy. In 1953, the Israeli Knesset legislated special status for JNF, enabling it to carry out governmental functions as a Zionist institution (“for Jews only”). The JNF continues to operate as a state-chartered organization [7] under Israeli law with direct control over some thirteen percent of the land in pre-1967 Israel. Further, the JNF appoints six out of thirteen members of the governing board of the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), which manages the JNF’s thirteen percent, in addition to another eighty percent of all land in Israel. It is through this relationship with the JNF that Israel, while portraying itself as the only democracy in the Middle East, in fact, outsources the land-management functions of the state to this discriminatory state-chartered organization.

 

After the 1948 Nakba and the expulsion of approximately two-thirds of the Palestinian population from their homeland, the JNF was repackaged as an environmentalist organization carrying out forestation activities. The JNF's forests, parks and recreational facilities, planted and built on the ruins of hundreds of destroyed and depopulated Palestinian villages, have critically served to veil from public view the continuing official Israeli attempts to erase the traces of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The JNF is thus fundamentally complicit in the denial of displaced Palestinians' rights to return, restitution and compensation, and in greenwashing Israel's regime of apartheid, colonization and occupation.

 

The JNF's activities are not limited to the part of mandate Palestine that became Israel in 1948. The JNF's Canada Park, for example, covers the remains of the Palestinian villages Imwas, Yalu, and Beit Nuba, which the Israeli army depopulated and razed on the explicit orders of the then Chief-of-Staff, General Yitzhak Rabin, in the course of the 1967 war. Moreover, through its subsidiary Himnuta, the JNF has illegally acquired lands and houses in the occupied West Bank, and particularly in 1967 occupied Jerusalem.

 

Today, the JNF's projects of displacement and forestation continue, particularly in the Naqab (Negev) and the Galilee. In these areas, “development” projects in which the JNF plays a central role, aim to continue the forced displacement of Palestinian citizens of Israel to make way for exclusively Jewish settlements and for JNF parks and forests [8].

 

The JNF continues to serve as a global fundraiser for Israeli colonization and apartheid. Despite its complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity, and despite its status as a chartered agent of the State of Israel, the JNF and its affiliate organizations enjoy charitable status in over 50 countries as environmental charities. These JNF branches worldwide also work to muster the political support necessary for legitimizing and promoting Israeli apartheid, a task greatly facilitated by the political, economic and cultural elites in each country that have signed on as JNF patrons.

 

As part of the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel until such time as it respects and implements international law, we the undersigned organizations call on global civil society to join us in a campaign to challenge the JNF by:

 

·         exposing and documenting the role of the JNF in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine;

 

·         protesting and disrupting the JNF’s fundraising activities across the globe;

 

·         opposing and acting to nullify the JNF’s charitable and tax-exempt status in Europe, the Americas, Oceania and Asia, and Africa;

 

·         condemning the activities of the JNF through popular tribunals and truth commissions;

 

·         supporting Palestinian and Israeli organizations resisting the forced displacement of Palestinians in the Naqab and Galilee; and

 

·         urging those organizations collaborating with the JNF, and especially those with environmental and anti-racist mandates, to break ties with the JNF.

 

Notes:

 

[1]   In Hebrew, Keren Kayemet Le-Yisrael (KKL), literally, the ‘Perpetual Fund for Israel’. In some states, JNF affiliate organizations use this name instead of JNF.

[2]   Ethnic cleansing by means of expulsion, massacre and population transfer and related grave breaches and crimes is defined in the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), as well as the Charter of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal (1945) and the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court (1998).

[3]   The term apartheid refers to the crime defined in article 2 of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

[4]   The JNF played an important role in the preparation of the “village files”, used by Zionist forces as a primary reference in planning and executing the depopulation and destruction of Palestinian communities in the 1948 Nakba (see Ilan Pappe, ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’, Oxford: One World Press, 2006, pp. 17-22).

[5]   Palestinians/Bedouin in the Naqab have been allowed up to 3-year leaseholds (compared to the 49-year leaseholds granted Jewish citizens of Israel). Up to 3-year leaseholds do not endow the lessee with occupancy rights to the land (whereas 49-year leaseholds and multiples of 49-year leaseholds can be bequeathed from one generation of Jewish settler-families to the next).

[6]   Jewish National Fund Memorandum of Association (1907).

[7]   State-chartered, or para-state, organizations are organizations that through a formal, legal agreement, participate in the functions of the state.

[8]   Most villages of Palestinian Bedouin of the Naqab were rendered non-existent by Israel's 1965 Planning and Construction Law. Today, over 80,000 of these Palestinian citizens of Israel live in the “unrecognized villages,” their land has been confiscated, they receive no water, electricity, or any other form of government-provided means of existence, and face the constant threat of home demolition and forced eviction. The state aims to displace them to the urban townships and use their land for exclusively Jewish settlements. The JNF aims to play a leading role in this process through its “Blueprint Negev” fundraising campaign, through which it plans to invest $600 million in 10 years “supporting a new generation of Israeli pioneers” (see ‘Introducing the Jewish National Fund’, JNF eBook Vol 1, Jan 2010, p.18).

 

 

Stop the JNF has been endorsed by the following organisations:

 

Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Green Party (UK)

Action Palestine, University of Strathclyde (UK)

Al Awda, Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, New York (USA)

AL-BEIT, Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Israel

Alliance for Green Socialism (UK)

Al-Nakba Awareness Project (USA)

Alternative Information Centre (AIC)

American Jews for a Just Peace - AJJP (USA)

American Muslims for Palestine (USA)

Amnesty Pakistan

Anti-War Committee, Minneapolis (USA)

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine - APJP (UK)

Artists Against Apartheid (International)

Askapena (Basque Country)

Association France-Palestine solidarite (France)

Association Suisse Palestine (Switzerland)

Australian Palestinian Cultural Centre (Australia)

Australians for Palestine (Australia)

Baltimore-Washington Area Peace Council (USA)

Bay Area Women in Black (USA)

BDS Group Berlin (Germany)

BDS Saint-Louis (Belgium)

BDS Switzerland (Switzerland)

Ben Franklin Foundation (USA)

Benedictine Community (UK)

Bentham Associates (USA)

Birthright Unplugged (USA/Palestine)

Boycott Israel Network - BIN (UK)

BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within

Boykot Israel Denmark

Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)

Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)

Byron people for Peace & Justice (Australia)

Cambridge Palestine Solidaritiy Campaign (UK)

Camcorp (Canada)

Campagne BDS France

Campagne Civile Internationale pour la Protection du Peuple Palestinien (France)

Canada Palestine Association (Canada)

Canadian Arab Federation (Canada)

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (Canada)

Carolinas Peace (USA)

Center for Encounters and Active Non-Violence (Austria)

CEO Pipe Organs/Golden Ponds Farm (USA)

Charleston Heart Clinic (USA)

Christians for Palestinian Rights (USA)

Citizens for Palestinian Self Determination (USA)

Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities (USA)

Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Canada)

Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Luverne, MN (USA)

Code Pink (USA)

Collectif 69 De Soutien Au Peuple Palestinien (France)

Collectif Judeo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Paix, Strasbourg (France)

Collectif Judeo-Arabe et Citoyen pour la Paix (France)

Collectif Urgence Palestine, Geneve (Switzerland)

Collectiu Antimilitarista de Sant Cugat (Spain)

Comitee BDS-ULB (Belgium)

Coordination de l’Appel de Strasbourg pour une Paix juste au Proche Orient, Strasbourg (France)

Cornerstone Housing Co-op (UK)

Critical Jewish Voice (Austria)

Diverse (Belgium)

Don’t Buy Into Apartheid (USA)

Dorset Palestinian Israeli Peace Group (UK)

Droit au Retour (Switzerland)

Durham Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)

Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine (UK)

Ethical Jews for Human Rights (USA)

Friends of Lebanon (UK)

Friends of the Earth Scotland

General Union of Youth Entities (Gaza-Palestine)

Generation Palestine (France)

Glasgow Caledonian University Palestine Society (UK)

Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign (UK)

Global Exchange (USA)

Global Women’s Strike (International)

Goldsmiths Palestine Campaign (UK)

Green Party of England and Wales

Halifax Friends of Palestine (UK)

Hilton Head for Peace (USA)

Human Rights Legal Aid Fund (UK)

IJAN Argentina

IJAN France

IJAN Spain

Immersionmusic (Australia)

Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)

Independent Jewish Voices , Toronto (Canada)

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network - IJAN

International Solidarity Movement, Metro DC Chapter (USA)

International Solidarity Movement London (UK)

Iona Community (UK)

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Ireland)

Israeli Occupation Archive - IOA (USA)

Jews Against the Occupation, Melbourne (Australia)

Jews Against Zionism (UK)

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods - JBIG (UK)

Justice for Palestinians (USA)

Kampania Palestyna (Poland)

Labor for Palestine (USA)

Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)

London BDS (UK)

Middle East Children’s Alliance - MECA (USA)

Middle East Committee of Women Against Military Madness (USA)

Middle East Policy Advisory Committee (USA)

Middlesex University Free Palestine Society (UK)

Montreuil Palestine (France)

National Lawyers Guild (USA)

Nederlands Palestina Komitee (Netherlands)

New York City Labor Against the War (USA)

Northwood (USA)

Not In Our Name: Jewish Voices Opposing Zionism (Canada)

Palästinakomitee Stuttgart (Germany)

Palestine Legal Aid Fund (UK)

Palestine Society, University of Nottingham (UK)

Palestine Solidarity Campaign - PSC (UK)

Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ipswich (UK)

Palestine Solidarity Group, Chicago (USA)

Palestina-Solidaritat Region Basel (Switzerland)

Palestinian BDS National Committee - BNC (Palestine)

Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People, Beit Sahour (Palestine)

Palestinian Rights Committee, Albany, NY (USA)

PALS-CO Hunter College (USA)

Pedal 100 days to Palestine (UK)

Peoria Peace network (USA)

Philadelphia Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Coalition (USA)

Pointers for Peace in Palestine (USA)

Public Intellectuals for Social and Spare Change (USA)

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, Toronto (Canada)

Rete-ECO, the Italian Network of Jews against the Occupation (Italy)

Right of Return Congress

Sacramento Peace Action (USA)

Scottish Green Party

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Scottish Trades Union Congress

Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)

Siege Busters Working Group (USA)

SOAS Palestine Society (UK)

Solidaritat Desenvolupament I Pau - SODEPAU (Catalonia-Spain)

Solidarität International (Germany)

Solidarity Maroc Palestine (Morocco)

South Florida BDS (USA)

Students Against Israeli Apartheid, Carleton (Canada)

Students for Justice in Palestine, Florida Atlantic University Chapter (USA)

Students for Justice in Palestine, Wyncote Chapter (USA)

Students Organizing for Justice in the Americas - SOJA (USA)

Teachers for Peace and Justice (USA)

The Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (Jordan)

The Shondes (USA)

Trade Union Friends of Palestine (Ireland)

Tyne & Wear Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)

Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique (Belgium)

Union for the Justice Laura Marx (USA)

Union Juive Francaise pour la Paix - UJFP (France)

University and College Union Scotland (UK)

University of Birmingham Friends of Palestine Society (UK)

US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USA)

US Palestinian Community Network (USA)

Utrecht for Palestine (Netherlands)

Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)

We Refuse to Be Enemies (USA)

Women for Palestine (Australia)

Women in Black Strasbourg (France)

Women in Black, Vienna (Austria)

Women of a Certain Age (USA)

Women’s Alliance Party (Canada)

Xarxa d’Enllac amb Palestina (Catalonia-Spain)

York Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)