A national campaign is being launched today against the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a UK registered charity whose patrons include high profile figures such as Prime Minister David Cameron.
The JNF was created in 1901 by the Fifth Zionist Congress in order to “build a country out of nothing”, according to JNF literature. However, Palestinian civil society organisations say that from its establishment “the JNF has been a chief partner in the Zionist colonial drive to dispossess indigenous Palestinians of their land, culminating in the Nakba of 1948 when Zionist militias and later Israel expelled a majority of the Palestinian population in order to establish a state with a Jewish majority”.
Campaigners claim that the role of the JNF remains unchanged until today and that the organisation, which has para-statal status in Israel, should not benefit from charity status in the UK.
Michael Kalmanovitz of the Stop the JNF Campaign says:
“the JNF controls land either directly or through the Israel Land Authority on which it has majority seats. That’s how it prevents Palestinians from living or working on this Palestinian land. According to the ideology of the JNF and the state of Israel, as a Jewish person, Zionists have given me more legal right to live on that land than the Palestinian people who were born there, although I have never lived there. For example, the Bedouin village of al Araqib in the Negev has been demolished by the JNF twenty one times since July 2010 in order to drive them out.”
“We refuse to stand by while the racist JNF is allowed to operate as a legitimate organisation in this country receiving tax relief and other associated benefits of being a charity. Can we continue to allow racism to be charitable in Britain? Although Nick Clegg and Ed Milliband are not patrons, unfortunately David Cameron has chosen to endorse the criminal activities of the JNF.”
Samuel Hayek, chair of JNF UK, has said that “For over 100 years we have had one mission: to settle and develop the Land of Israel. Today, thanks to the incredible support we receive and particularly our work in the Negev, JNF continues to pioneer this historic Zionist dream in the 21st century.”
The JNF is no stranger to protest. Over the years the Charities Commission has received complaints about the charitable status of the organisation. In December 2009 human rights protestors demonstrated outside the JNF ‘2020 Vision’ conference in Hendon. Their guest speaker, Israeli Minister Tzipi Livni, cancelled her appearance when Palestinian families affected by Operation Cast Lead successfully applied for a warrant for her arrest.
Notes for editors/bloggers:
1. The Stop the JNF Campaign launch, Land Day, 30 March 2011:
History of the campaign
The first meeting to build the Stop the JNF campaign was held in Geneva in May 2009, during the World Conference Against Racism/Durban Review and the shadow Israel Review Conference. Plans to build the campaign were started at this meeting with the Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC).
In May, 2010, these organizations co-sponsored an organizing meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, for activists and lawyers who were already building campaigns against the JNF in their regions. The goal of the meeting was the development and international coordination of campaigns against the Jewish National Fund (JNF).
What is the campaign to stop the JNF?
Stop the JNF is an international campaign aimed at ending the role of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeIsrael) (JNF-KKL) in:
the on-going displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their land
the theft of their property
the funding of historic and present day colonies, and
the destruction of the natural environment.
The JNF (also known as Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael or KKL) 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 and many also enjoy consultative status with the United Nations.
The Stop the JNF Campaign also launched internationally today, on 30 March, Land Day, which is a day of commemoration for six Palestinian citizens of Israel killed by security forces in 1976 for protesting Israeli government land expropriation and confiscation.
Stop the JNF Campaign
Tel 07931200361 or 07816251377
2. Background Paper: The controversial land policies of the Jewish National Fund, by JNews:www.jnews.org.uk/commentary/background-paper-the-controversial-land-policies-of-the-jewish-national-fund
3. Apartheid Israel: The Jewish National Fund, by Professor Uri Davis:www.uridavis.info/jewish_national_fund_apartheid_israel.htm
4. A list of JNF patrons are available here: http://www.jnf.co.uk/about_executive.htm
5. A statement by the Palestinian civil society organisations, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), 26 March 2011, Occupied Palestine:www.stopthejnf.org/supportingstatements_bnc26Mar2011.html
6. JNF UK History: http://www.jnf.co.uk/about.html
7. El Araqib Destroyed for 21st time, JNF Changing Facts on Ground:www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/news/3384-el-araqib-destroyed-for-21st-time-jnf-changing-facts-on-ground
8. For Samuel Hayek’s quote see JNF UK Accounts, 31 December 2009: www.charity-commission.gov.uk/ScannedAccounts/Ends10%5C0000225910_ac_20091231_e_c.pdf
9. For a list of cases raised by the Charities Commission as a result of complaints see Appendix 5 in the JNF E-book Vol published in January 2010, ‘Introducing the Jewish National Fund’:http://www.stopthejnf.org/documents/JNFeBookVol1ed2x.pdf
10. Israel confirms U.K. arrest warrant against Livni, published by Haaretz: www.haaretz.com/news/israel-confirms-u-k-arrest-warrant-against-livni-1.2133
11. Jewish National Fund Conference resisted from inside and out, December 2009: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/12/443416.html
12. Protests at JNF events:
Colin Powell, 2006: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4612560.stm
Ruby Wax, 2004, and campaigns to challenge the JNF: www.badil.org/en/component/k2/item/1408-napier-macleod-kershnar-jnfcampaigns
13. History of the Palestinians in Israel, Adalah (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel):www.adalah.org/eng/backgroundhistory.php
14. Palestinian call for a day of action, Land Day, 30 March 2011: http://bdsdayofaction.net/