Aletho News


Group that raises money for Israeli soldiers got $2-5 million federal loan

FIDF gala at Waldorf Astoria in New York City (Jewish Post )
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | July 16, 2020

An organization that holds opulent galas to raise money for foreign soldiers, received a forgivable federal loan of somewhere between $2 million to $5 million, while numerous American mom-and-pop businesses applied in vain for the coronavirus relief program.

The group, Friends of the IDF (FIDF), holds glittering extravaganzas around the U.S. that raise tens of millions of dollars for Israeli soldiers.

These are held despite the fact that numerous organizations have documented massive human rights violations by Israeli forces (see video below). The U.S. gives Israel over $10 million per day in military aid.

Last year’s FIDF fundraiser in Manhattan raised $37 million, one of 20 chapters around the country. A 2018 gala in Beverly Hills raised $60 million and a 2017 gala raised over $53 million. Its annual chair, billionaire dual citizen Haim Saban, is a major Clinton donor. (video below)

Celebrities like Barbra Streisand, Larry King, Sylvester Stallone, Robert de Niro, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have helped raise money at the events. Among the donors are Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, Sandra Spielberg, and philanthropist Tad Taube. FIDF has over $238 million in net assets.

Small businesses & U.S. veterans go without

Many small businesses around the country have been unable to obtain the coronavirus assistance loans.

One U.S. emergency grant program is already out of money, while nearly half of all small businesses worry that they won’t be able to carry on due to the shutdowns.

The loan program accessed by FIDF, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), has been accused of favoritism, as some billionaires received loans while struggling small businesses went bankrupt.

Donations to FIDF are tax-deductible, which means they remove thousands of dollars (perhaps far more) from the U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, 40 thousand U.S. veterans are homeless on any given night, and veterans hospitals are often underfunded.

Numerous other organizations that support Israel also received large grants, many in the $1million+ range.

~1,000 pro-Israel groups received millions of dollars in loans

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports:

“More than 1,000 Jewish organizations received federal coronavirus relief loans totaling approximately $540 million to $1.3 billion.”

The vast majority of the organizations, perhaps all, support Israel.

Among the those receiving the forgivable (don’t have to be paid back) loans are the Zionist Organization of America (net assets $38 million), Israeli American Council ($32 million assets), Israel Emergency Alliance (gross receipts $17 million), ADL (gross receipts $80 million), and Jewish National Fund (net assets $445 million), and Israel on Campus Coalition ($5 million net asssets). (Financial information from GuideStar.)


Israeli soldiers’ actions:

See the full 8-minute video here.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.

July 17, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Video | , , , , | 2 Comments

Campaign to revoke Jewish National Fund charitable status important

By Yves Engler · January 11, 2019

Last week the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), under pressure from Palestine solidarity activists, began an audit of the Jewish National Fund.

The audit is significant. Beyond weakening the oldest Israel-focused charity in the country, it will put other Israeli charities in Canada on notice and reflects the growth of Palestine solidarity activism.

Fulfilling the time-consuming audit will be a bureaucratic headache for a group that has eleven offices across Canada and has raised $100 million over the past five years. Already, the credibility of the second most powerful Israel-oriented charity in Canada has taken a hit with the CBC exposé headlined “Canadian charity  used donations to fund projects linked to Israeli military” and related  stories. If the CRA revokes the JNF’s charitable status it would be devastating for fundraising and deter politicians/celebrities from attending their events.

Similar to the JNF, other registered charities support the Israeli military in direct contravention of CRA rules. Additionally, some of these organizations — like the JNF — fund projects supporting West Bank settlements, which Global Affairs Canada considers in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

At a broader level, critical attention on the JNF could lead to questioning of why Canadian taxpayers subsidize hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to a wealthy country. Despite a GDP per capita greater than Spain or Italy (and equal to Japan), hundreds of registered Canadian charities deliver hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Israel. How many Canadian charities funnel money to Spain or Japan?

If the CRA revoked JNF’s charitable status it would boost Stop the JNF campaigns elsewhere. In England they convinced former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to withdraw as patron of the JNF (Theresa May seems to have also stayed away), and 68 members of parliament endorsed a bill to revoke the organization’s charitable status because “the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews.”

The CRA audit of a charity that’s found favour with numerous Canadian prime ministers is long in the making and reflects the growth of Palestinian solidarity consciousness. Born in a West Bank village demolished to make way for the JNF’s Canada Park, Ismail Zayid has been complaining to the CRA about its charitable status for 40 years. Lebanese Canadian Ron Saba “has been indefatigable over the years in writing to various Canadian government departments and officials, corporations, and media to rescind tax exemption status and endorsement of” what he calls the “racist JNF tax fraud”. During the Liberal party convention in 2006 Saba was widely smeared for drawing attention to leadership candidate Bob Rae’s ties to the JNF. Saba has put in multiple Access to Information requests regarding the JNF, demonstrating government spying of its critics and long-standing knowledge of the organization’s dubious practices. Under the headline “Event you may want to monitor,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Caitlin Workman sent the CRA a communication about a 2011 Independent Jewish Voices event in Ottawa stating: “author of the Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, Yves Engler, will give a talk on Canada and the Jewish National Fund.”

Former Independent Jewish Voices coordinator Tyler Levitan was smeared for working diligently on the issue. In addition to important organizing, he discovered that the Ottawa Citizen sponsored JNF galas they covered and, suggesting a formal financial relationship, ran an ad for the JNF’s 2013 Ottawa Gala the day after the event.

At the Green Party convention in 2016 Corey Levine pushed a resolution to revoke the JNF’s charitable status because it practices “institutional  discrimination against non-Jewish citizens of Israel.” The effort brought the issue into the mainstream though she, IJV and the entire Green  Party were smeared  as “hard core  Jew haters” for even considering the resolution.

Fifteen months ago IJV and four individuals filed a detailed complaint to the CRA and Minister of National Revenue over the JNF. For a number of years IJV has run a “Stop the JNF” campaign and for more than a decade activists across the country have picketed local JNF fundraising galas. These efforts have benefited from many in Palestine/Israel, notably the work of Uri Davies and Adalah.

As I have written before, the campaign to revoke the JNF’s charitable status is important beyond winning the specific demand. It draws attention to the racism intrinsic to Zionism and highlights Canada’s contribution to Palestinian dispossession.

The CRA is undoubtedly facing significant behind-the-scenes pressure to let the JNF off with little more than a slap on the wrists. So, it’s important that people send their MP  the CBC exposé and add their name to Independent Jewish Voices’ campaign  to revoke the Jewish National Fund’s charitable status.

January 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

Canada must stop subsidizing this racist, colonial, institution

By Yves Engler · October 24, 2017

Imagine if there were an organization called the White National Fund that raised tens of millions of dollars each year from Canadians to buy land in the US to be held exclusively for people of European descent. WNF land couldn’t be leased or sold to anyone who they didn’t consider “white”. Would it be acceptable to give such an organization charitable status so donors received tax breaks?

While similar exclusionary land policies are its raison d’être, Jewish National Fund apologists in Canada claim it is racist to highlight the organization’s discrimination.

In a recent commentary on Jagmeet Singh’s embrace of imperialist NDP foreign critic Hélène Laverdière I pointed out that she “participated in a ceremony put on by the head of the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund during a visit to Israel” in November.

An individual on my Facebook had the temerity to respond: “Yves Engler would do well to more thoroughly research the long and positive history, aims and accomplishments of the Jewish National Fund, before branding it with his own thinly veiled anti-Semitism, by describing (and underlining) it as ‘explicitly racist’.” (My “underlining” was a link to supporting evidence.)

The Green Party was smeared in a similar fashion when members proposed a resolution calling on the Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the JNF’s charitable status because of its discrimination against non-Jews in Israel through its bylaws which prohibit the lease or sale of its lands to non-Jews.” In a National Post op-ed last summer then JNF head Josh Cooper accused the Greens’ of discrimination and a commentary published by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs directly labeled the party “anti-Semitic”.

JNF officials responded in a similar way after a 2013 protest against the organization in Colorado. KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler said, “attacks and demonstrations against us [Jews] have picked up momentum of late, we [JNF] are targeted first and foremost because we are helping to realize the Zionist vision.”

The chutzpah of JNF apologists’ beggars belief. JNF racism is not concealed; it is, in fact, the organization’s raison d’être. The US State Department, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Israeli Supreme Court are all on record regarding the discriminatory policies of the JNF, which controls 13% of Israel’s land and has significant influence over most of the rest. Indicative of its discrimination against the over 20% of Israelis who aren’t Jewish, JNF Canada’s Twitter tag says it “is the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners  — Jewish people everywhere.” Its parent organization in Israel — the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael — is even more open about its racism. Its website notes that “a survey commissioned by KKL-JNF reveals that over 70% of the Jewish population in Israel opposes allocating KKL-JNF land to non-Jews, while over 80% prefer the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than as the state of all its citizens.”

The JNF is an openly Jewish supremacist organization operating in a Jewish/white supremacist state. Think KKK during Jim Crow in the US South. But, in the JNF’s case proponents of the racist organization smear internationalist/universalist critics as discriminatory!

The JNF provides a stark example of the ethnocratic blinders that Zionism has placed on large swaths of Canada’s Jewish community. Seven decades ago Jewish individuals and groups fought against discriminatory land use policies in this country while today thousands attend JNF fundraisers across the country. In the most famous challenge to discriminatory land covenants, in 1948 Annie Noble decided to sell a cottage in the exclusive Beach O’ Pines subdivision on Lake Huron to Bernie Wolf, who was Jewish. During the sale Wolf’s lawyer realized that the original deed for the property restricted sale to “any person wholly or partly of negro, Asiatic, coloured or Semitic blood.” The deed further explained: “The land and premises herein described shall never be sold, assigned, transferred, leased, rented or in any manner whatsoever alienated to and shall never be occupied or used in any manner whatsoever by any person of the Jewish, Hebrew, Semitic, negro or coloured race or blood, it being the intention and purpose of the Grantor, to restrict the ownership, use, occupation and enjoyment of the said recreational development, including the lands and premises herein described to person of the white or Caucasian race not excluded by this clause.”

Noble and Wolf tried to get the court to declare the restriction invalid but they were opposed by the Beach O’Pines Protective Association. Both a Toronto court and the Ontario Court of Appeal refused to invalidate the racist covenant. But Noble pursued the case — with assistance from the Canadian Jewish Congress — to the Supreme Court of Canada. In a six-to-one decision the highest court reversed the lower courts’ ruling and allowed Noble to purchase the property.

Were the judges who voided the discriminatory land covenant “anti-Caucasian”? Of course not.

If the JNF disappeared or Israel outlawed discriminatory land policies would Israeli Jews become oppressed? Hardly.

But, myself and other Canadian critics haven’t even called for the JNF to be outlawed. Notwithstanding the anti-Semitism smears, the above-mentioned Green Party resolution or Independent Jewish Voices’ JNF campaign simply calls on the Canadian state to stop subsidizing its discrimination (and implicitly for public representatives in this country to stop participating in JNF events). As far as I’m aware, no one has called for the organization to be banned, its executives to be investigated for contravening Canadian law or for the land and assets it controls to be seized.

Eventually the JNF’s charitable status will be revoked. Taxpayers can’t be expected to subsidize discriminatory land-use policies in Israel forever. At some point groups and individuals who claim to oppose racism will stop running scared of “anti-Semitism” insults and will add their voice to Independent Jewish Voices political and legal challenge of the JNF’s charitable status.

For the Palestinian solidarity movement the campaign to revoke the JNF’s charitable status is important beyond winning the specific demand. It draws attention to the racism intrinsic to Zionism and highlights Canada’s contribution to Palestinian dispossession.

The campaign to revoke the JNF’s charitable status is simply a call for the Canadian state to stop subsidizing an explicitly racist, colonial, institution. There is nothing anti-Jewish in that.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada offers tax deduction for promoting ethnic nationalism, war

By Yves Engler · March 9, 2017

What do you call an organization that teaches children an exclusive religious or ethnic nationalism and promotes war and other forms of violence to get its way?

Many people would say an extremist group or a right-wing cult. Many people would think we were talking about something like the Ku Klux Klan.

But while the KKK did have a youth corps where children were taught “patriotism” and “Christian values,” but weren’t “brainwashed” – in the words of one “imperial wizard” – we are talking about a group the Canada Revenue Agency finds worthy of awarding tax-deductible status for “charitable” donations.

The Jewish National Fund would also deny “brainwashing” children, but there is no doubt it tries to convince young minds of its exclusivist worldview.

JNF Montreal recently organized a “tree-a-thon” with the stated aim of restoring lands damaged by last year’s forest fires in Israel. Participants were promised “great prizes, great food, great fun,” and students were told they could “earn community service hours.”

The registered “charity” offers various youth education initiatives promoting Zionism, Israel’s state ideology. JNF Canada’s website boasts of how it helps young people “forge an everlasting bond with the land of Israel.”

The JNF has long promoted an expansionist vision of the “land of Israel” – a term that can be found on the Blue Boxes that it uses in fundraisers.

Maps on JNF Blue Boxes distributed in recent years encompass the occupied West Bank. The first map on the Blue Box, designed in 1934, depicted an area reaching from the Mediterranean into present-day Lebanon and Jordan.

Blue Boxes – tins for collecting money – are the mainstay of JNF youth outreach. Over the last century millions of them have been distributed around the world.

An official description explains: “Since its debut in 1901 as JNF’s official fundraising pushke [collection box], the Blue Box has represented JNF and its efforts to develop the land and roads, build communities, strengthen agriculture and create water reservoirs in Israel. It is also a vehicle for educating Jewish youth and involving them in these efforts in order to foster their Zionistic spirit and inspire their support for the State of Israel. For many Jews, the Blue Box is bound up with childhood memories from home and the traditional contributions they made in kindergarten and grade school.”

While youth pursuing “community service” sounds benign, the JNF is, in fact, a racist, colonial institution that has no place in the 21st century. An owner of 13 percent of the land in Israel and with influence over much of the rest, the JNF discriminates against Palestinian citizens who make up one-fifth of the state’s population.

According to a United Nations report from 1998, JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination.”

For their part, JNF Canada officials are relatively open about the discriminatory character of the organization. In 2009, JNF Canada’s then head Frank Wilson explained, the “JNF are the caretakers of the land of Israel on behalf of its owners, who are the Jewish people everywhere around the world.”

In addition to racist land-use policies, JNF Canada lobbies for war.

Shortly after Israel killed 2,200 Palestinians – mostly civilians – in Gaza during 2014, the JNF brought Shaul Mofaz to speak in Toronto.

As well as being a former defense minister, Mofaz was in charge of the Israeli military from 1998 to 2002. In that capacity, he oversaw the brutal oppression of the second intifada, including a series of attacks on the main cities in the occupied West Bank.

In 2007, the JNF sponsored a cross-Canada speaking tour by Zeev Raz, a colonel who led Israel’s 1981 bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor and who has subsequently worked for Israel’s arms industry. The aim of the tour was to build momentum for an attack against Iran.

“Sanctions against Iran are not effective,” Raz argued. “Sanctions are too vulnerable to cheating. The only solution to the Iran problem is for there to be an effort of the US and other forces to invade Iran from the ground.”

JNF Canada has described 2016 as “our best year yet.” More than $21 million was raised.

Similar to other formerly powerful, but now discredited, institutions, the JNF seeks to convince vulnerable young minds of its racist worldview.

It’s time to free the children and abolish the JNF. Or at least revoke its tax-deductible status.

March 13, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Burning Bush

By Gilad Atzmon – December 2, 2010

Israel’s rural landscape is saturated with pine trees. These trees are new to the region. The pine trees were introduced to the Palestinian’s landscape in the early 1930s by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in an attempt to ‘reclaim the land’. By 1935, JNF had planted 1.7 million trees over a total area of 1,750 acres. Over fifty years, the JNF planted over 260 million trees largely on confiscated Palestinian land. It did it all in a desperate attempt to hide the ruins of the ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages and their history.

Along the years the JNF performed a crude attempt to eliminate Palestinian civilisation and past but it also tried to make Palestine look like Europe. The Palestinian natural forest was eradicated. Similarly the olive trees were uprooted. The pine trees took their place. On the southern part of mount Carmel the Israelis named an area as ‘Little Switzerland’. By now, there is no much left of “Little Switzerland.”

However, the facts on the ground were pretty devastating for the JNF. The pine tree didn’t adapt to the Israeli climate as much as the Israelis failed to adapt to the Middle East. According to JNF statistics, six out of every 10 saplings planted did not survive. Those few trees that did survive formed nothing but a firetrap. By the end of each Israeli summer each of the Israeli pine forests become a potential deadly zone.

In spite of its nuclear ability, its criminal army, the occupation, the Mossad and its lobbies all over the world, Israel seems to be vulnerable. It is devastatingly alienated from the land it claims to own and care for. Like the pine tree, Zionism, Israel and the Israeli are foreign to the region.

November 25, 2016 Posted by | Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 4 Comments

Israel: A great place to be white!

By Charles Davis | False Dichotomy | June 29, 2013

Not everyone who lives in Israel is of pasty white European heritage, but you wouldn’t know it from the Israeli government’s outreach. For reasons only fully understood by the gods and the person trolling me, I was recently subscribed to the newsletter of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a quasi-governmental organization that seeks to replace brown people in Israel with Jews and trees.

An explicitly racist organization (Israel’s second largest property owner, it refuses to rent land to Arabs), it was not surprising to find that JNF’s printed propaganda featured almost exclusively smiling white people. On one page, smiling white college kids whose trip to the Holy Land totally rocked. On another page, a smiling white foodie dishing the inside scoop on Israeli cuisine. Here a white person; there a white person; everywhere a white person. The reader at home’s takeaway: Go to Israel and you won’t have to mix with the coloreds, unless of course you book the 4 day / 3 night Ethnic Immersion tour package.

What’s a little weird is that when I tweeted something snarky about the awful lot of white folk in JNF’s newsletter, the CEO of JNF, seemingly awful white person Russell Robinson, saw fit to retweet it. Judging by the rest of his tweets — yes, older friends, I too find my generation’s language insufferable — it does not appear this was an act of passive aggression, though I probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions. Perhaps he was just distracted by how pasty white I am and hit the wrong button.


June 30, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Jason Kenney getting an award for ‘diversity’ only reinforces discrimination

By David Heap | Rabble| June 23, 2012

Conservative minister Jason Kenney is to receive an award for “diversity” from the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in London, Ontario this Sunday. It is hard to say which does more harm to the true values of diversity: the “honouring” organization or the politician being “honoured.”

The JNF covenant reserves the 13 per cent of Israeli land it owns for the exclusive benefit of Jews. It plays the same discriminatory role in the Israeli Lands Authority: together, these two interlocking institutions control 93 per cent of land in Israel, which (with a few short-lease exceptions) is not available to Palestinians. Many of these lands, originally belonging to Palestinians expelled in 1948, were expropriated and then sold to the JNF.

In 1998, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights reported that the “large-scale and systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and property by the State and the transfer of that property to these agencies constitute an institutionalized form of discrimination because these agencies by definition would deny the use of these properties by non-Jews.”

Segregation and exclusion are incompatible with diversity, but fine with Minister Kenney. Since the robo-call election of 2011, Ottawa Conservatives have pushed through measures that discriminate against migrants and refugees. Last November they completely halted applications for immigration sponsorships of parents and grandparents until 2014.

The JNF creates forests and parks on the ruins of destroyed Palestinian villages to hide the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and to prevent Palestinian refugees from returning. Canada Park, built on top of the ruins of the Palestinian villages of Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba (deliberately destroyed by Israel in 1967), was funded through Canadian tax-deductible donations to the JNF Canada.

The destruction of the Palestinian villages and the denial of the villagers’ right to return to their homes are grave violations of the 4th Geneva Convention. Former Israeli Knesset member Uri Avnery calls this destruction a “war crime under international law.”

War crimes (even those subsidized through our tax system) do not promote diversity but they are OK with Kenney and other Conservatives, whose unconditional support for Israeli crimes matches their complete disdain for our own national obligations under international humanitarian law. Just last week, they passed Bill C-31, a law that will result in the arbitrary detention, intimidation and re-victimization of highly vulnerable asylum-seekers in Canada, especially women and children. As of next week, refugees in this country will be denied vital medical services by the same Conservative government.

Like Indigenous peoples elsewhere, Palestinians Bedouins in the Negev have been and continue to be dispossessed of their land, their resources and their livelihoods by occupying populations. While countries like Canada move slowly towards reconciliation with aboriginal peoples through land settlements and compensation, funds raised through JNF dinners and Canadian tax deductions contribute to further dispossession of Bedouins and other Palestinians.

Indigenous dispossession does not help foster diversity, but that doesn’t bother Conservatives like Kenney. In April 2012, they pushed through a policy allowing employers pay “temporary” foreign workers up to 15 per cent less than the prevailing local wage.

The JNF’s exclusionary practices and policies in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories are not well known in North America, but recently in the U.K. major political party leaders (including the current Prime Minister) have begun distancing themselves from this discriminatory organization.

It is time more Canadians demanded the JNF’s charitable status be revoked – in the name of diversity (and international law), while we work to reverse the damage done to vulnerable migrants by Kenney and other Conservatives.

We may not get any awards for “diversity,” but we will be helping build a more just world for all.

UWO Faculty for Palestine member David Heap is a Steering Committee member of works with community groups including People for Peace and No One is Illegal in London. He gratefully acknowledges help from allies and colleagues in preparing this column.

June 23, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why Jason Kenney getting an award for ‘diversity’ only reinforces discrimination

Green Party conference calls for revocation of JNF UK charitable status

By Asa Winstanley – The Electronic Intifada – 02/27/2012

The annual conference of the Green Party of England and Wales this weekend passed a motion endorsing the Stop the JNF campaign and calling for the Jewish National Fund to have its charitable status revoked in the UK.

 Motion passed at the Green Party of England and Wales Spring conference on 26th February 2012

  • The Green Party of England and Wales condemns the Jewish National Fund for its activities in excluding non-Jews from Israeli land and denounces the organisation for claiming to be an ecological agency.
  • The GPEW endorses the international call for action against the JNF and supports efforts to revoke its charitable status in the UK.
  • The GPEW will add its name to the list of signatories of the ‘Stop the JNF Campaign’.(

As I reported last week, the campaign against the JNF (led by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign) has been making impressive gains recently.

The Green Party has now followed the lead of the Scottish Green Party who made a similar move in October last year. The move is the latest blow to the JNF, which is accused by Palestinian citizens of Israel of ethnic cleansing and maintaining a system of land-apartheid that discriminates against non-Jews. The JNF describes itself as “the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners — Jewish people everywhere”.

Read the full Stop the JNF press release for more details.

February 27, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Comments Off on Green Party conference calls for revocation of JNF UK charitable status

Stop the JNF campaign makes steady gains as Israel charity goes “on the retreat” in UK

By Asa Winstanley | The Electronic Intifada | 22 February 2012

London – Palestinian activists and their supporters have condemned a recent fundraising campaign by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) as a “greenwashing” cover for ethnic cleansing.

The JNF “Green Sunday” fundraiser took place in several countries on 5 February. In publicity materials, JNF UK asked volunteers to “give two hours of your time to help turn the Negev green” and “make the Negev a livable place.”

But Palestinian citizens of Israel who already live in the southern Naqab desert (Negev in Hebrew) say the JNF has a colonialist agenda.

Usama Uqbi, head of the Naqab Bedouin Committee, told The Electronic Intifada that the impression of an empty desert the JNF portrayed was “a big lie.” Palestinian Arabs have been living on their land in the Naqab for hundreds of years, he said. He mocked the JNF flyer giving the impression of an empty land as “empty words.”

The JNF’s real goal is to demolish the homes of Palestinians who already live there, and bring Jewish settlers from the center of Israel to live on the expropriated land, he said.

The Electronic Intifada asked the JNF UK for their response to Uqbi’s criticisms.

A spokesperson replied: “You’re asking do we have a secret agenda to Judaize the desert and steal Palestinian homes?” The word “Judaize” was not used in The Electronic Intifada’s question. He said he would send an official response via email, but failed to follow up on this promise.

The Bedouin in the Naqab

The JNF has been directly implicated in the destruction of Palestinian communities in the Naqab. On 8 March 2011, the Alternative Information Center published a photo of a bulldozer that was involved in one of the destructions of the village of al-Araqib, emblazoned with Israeli and JNF flags (“El Araqib Destroyed for 21st time, JNF Changing Facts on Ground”).

Uqbi said that the Bedouin style of life in the Naqab has been eroded by Israel over the years. Bedouins have been forced to sell their cattle, as Israel has confiscated more and more of their land. The state established seven Bedouin resettlement projects in the Naqab in exchange for abandoning our land, he said. The houses offered in these modern-day reservations are rented, and the Palestinian citizens resettled there are stripped of land rights, he said.

Uqbi himself lives in an “unrecognized village,” which the state refuses to connect to even the most basic public utilities such as water, roads, electricity or schools. Uqbi said this was a deliberate policy to force him to abandon his home.

Sofiah MacLeod from the campaign group Stop the JNF told The Electronic Intifada that Green Sunday was a “propaganda exercise” to cover-up JNF involvement in establishment of “Jewish-only settlements” which are an attempt to “exclude the Palestinian population.”

MacLeod says she visited al-Araqib in December. The now-famous Naqab Bedouin village has been destroyed by the Israelis approximately thirty times since July 2010. Each time the villagers insist on rebuilding.

MacLeod says the villagers were left only with the graveyard in December. Their olive trees have been uprooted and replaced with eucalyptus trees, she says, but despite this, olive tree saplings had started to grow back.

The JNF says it wants to “develop” the area as part of its “Blueprint Negev” initiative.

In a recent press release, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network condemned “Green Sunday,” saying the JNF “shamelessly exploits Tu B’shvat [the Jewish holiday that celebrates fruiting trees] as an opportunity to raise money to fund their ongoing colonization of Palestine and displacement of Palestinians … As Jews of conscience, we stand against the ethnic cleansing of Palestine” (“Jewish Call: Stop the JNF – Trees should be sacred, not profane”).

Palestine solidarity groups should start thinking more about the JNF, says MacLeod. A March 2011 parliamentary motion — called an Early Day Motion (EDM) — signed by more than sixty members of British parliament has helped raise awareness, she says. Initiated by left wing Labor Party MP Jeremy Corbyn, the EDM welcomed the Stop the JNF campaign and condemned the JNF for “its ongoing illegal expropriation of Palestinian land” while calling for its charitable status to be revoked (“Early Day Motion 1677”).

Top British politicians desert the the JNF

The EDM also expressed opposition to Prime Minister David Cameron’s status as an honorary JNF patron. In May, Stop the JNF wrote to Cameron asking him to cut his ties. News that the prime minister quietly dropped the charity broke soon after.

Speaking to The Electronic Intifada at the time, a spokesperson for Cameron downplayed the move as “not a particularly recent decision” and that the JNF had been one of a “number of charities” dropped. But in June, this line shifted when a spokesperson told The Jewish Chronicle that the JNF’s ties to Israel had in fact been the issue. The Zionist paper reported the spokesperson as saying it was “nothing to do with a policy issue and was based around the fact he is now prime minister rather than leader of the opposition” (“Cameron’s JNF split: it was Israel,” 2 June 2011).

In a 31 May 2011 letter to The Jerusalem Post, former JNF president Gail Seal wrote that “a British prime minister has been an honorary trustee since” 1901 when the JNF was founded. “How sad it is that, whatever the reason, David Cameron has broken this chain,” she lamented.

Writing in The Jewish Chronicle, JNF Chairman Samuel Hayek criticized Cameron more robustly: “The Prime Minister’s words of support for Israel to Jewish audiences are too often contradicted by those said in front of more hostile crowds. Actions speak louder than words. The decision to resign from JNF has reverberated around the world” (“Why David Cameron – and the community – got it so wrong,” 10 June 2011).

The Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister and the leader of the Labour Party opposition have also declined to become JNF honorary patrons, said MacLeod. Stop the JNF wrote to both Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband asking about the issue and both replied that they had no plans to associate themselves with the JNF, although they gave no reasons, says MacLeod.

Both Scottish Friends of the Earth and the Scottish Green Party have now condemned the JNF and endorsed the campaign against it, says MacLeod. In a statement, The Scottish Greens condemned the JNF “for using the ‘green label to practice crimes against the Palestinian people” (“Scottish Green Party reject ‘green’ claims of charity involved in ethnic cleansing of Palestinians,” 31 October 2011).

MacLeod also says that the Green Party of England and Wales is set to discuss the issue at the upcoming conference.

JNF worried about campaign’s gains

Although parliamentary Early Day Motions are often criticized as impotent, a leaked document shows that JNF chief executive David Goodman is worried about the “legitimacy granted to this campaign by the EDM.” In a December letter sent to most of the MPs signed onto the EDM, Goodman smeared Stop the JNF, asking to meet each MP in private to “discuss the issues.”

Stop the JNF responded to Goodman’s letter by publishing it on their website, refuting its accusations point by point and challenging Goodman to a debate in an “open forum” in Westminster, the seat of the UK parliament (“JNF denies it works to dispossess Palestinians, smears critics,” 2 January 2012).

MacLeod points out that the EDM has yet to lose the signature of a single MP, despite this JNF counter-lobbying.

Goodman’s letter denies treating Palestinian citizens of Israel in a racist way, but admits the “Israeli state has made extensive efforts to encourage the permanent settlement of the Bedouin in recent years” in “additional towns in the Negev to smooth the transition to permanent settlement.”

Future plans

Stop the JNF is optimistic about the future of the campaign, saying in a recent press release that 2012 could be “perhaps its last year holding charity status in the UK” for the JNF.

According to the Charity Commission, the JNF’s last reported annual income was over £12 million ($7.6 million) in the UK alone. Loss of UK charity status would be a massive political blow to Israel as well as a significant financial blow. Registered charities have significant exemptions from UK taxes.

Over the years, many groups and activists have written to the Charity Commission to complain about the JNF, says MacLeod. Through freedom of information requests, Stop the JNF has learned about some of the internal thinking on the issue. The campaign is currently working on putting together a more solid case that it hopes to submit towards the second half of year, she says.

Although the JNF held “Green Sundays” in the UK, France, Australia, the US and Israel this month, there were no public event in the UK, says MacLeod. A few years ago they were very proud to hold public events, even bringing famous names like former US President Bill Clinton and actress Goldie Hawn. But in recent years they are now “on the retreat,” the campaign argues. Their events are held in full or partial secrecy, with publicity often containing vague directions like “London venue” — presumably to throw off potential protests.

MacLeod says the JNF are planning a “charity shoot” event on 11 May, very close to Nakba Day, the annual Palestinian commemoration of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Stop the JNF will protest the Glasgow event and is also holding a conference in Edinburgh on 12 May.

JNF’s long historical connection to Israeli colonialism

The JNF has quasi-governmental status in Israel, and describes itself on its website as “the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners — Jewish people everywhere” (Jewish National Fund, Essence of Life Campaign).

After Israel was established in 1948, the JNF purchased expropriated Palestinian land from the state, and since then has played a key role in an exclusionary land regime that discriminates against Palestinian citizens.

According to Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination, and Democracy, a new book by Ben White: “Since 1948, over 700 Jewish communities have been established in Israel’s pre-1967 borders. In the same period, not one new city, town or village for the Palestinian minority has been created, except for seven townships in the Negev intended to ‘concentrate’ the Bedouin population” (p. 38).

In the last accounts and annual report document filed with the Charity Commission (December 2010) JNF UK said it had “supported Israel since 1901, helping to build a country out of nothing” (my emphasis).

This kind of language invokes the old pre-state Zionist slogan “a land without a people for a people without a land,” suggesting the JNF’s agenda in 2012 has changed little since those days.

In his book Expulsion of the Palestinians, Palestinian scholar Nur Masalha wrote of this infamous slogan that it was not intended as a literal demographic assessment: “[Zionists] did not mean that there were no people in Palestine, but that there were no people worth considering within the framework of the notions of European supremacy that then held sway” (p. 6).

In a 2005 US diplomatic cable revealed by WikiLeaks, current Israeli President Shimon Peres is reported as saying Israel had “lost one million dunams [a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters] of Negev land to the Bedouin” (i.e. supposedly equal Palestinian citizens of Israel). Peres slurred the “Arab sector in both the Negev and the Galilee” as a “demographic threat,” reported the cable (“05TELAVIV1847, Shimon Peres on disengagement, Palestinian social”).

Uqbi emphasized to The Electronic Intifada that Peres went on to play a key role in the confiscation of Palestinian land in the Naqab from his time as development minister between 2006 and 2007.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who has lived and worked in occupied Palestine. His website is

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on Stop the JNF campaign makes steady gains as Israel charity goes “on the retreat” in UK