Imagine if there was a British National Fund run by Israel’s good supporters in the English Defence League and British National Party. The BNF decided that in order to fulfil their dreams of ‘self-determination’ for the English and British People, it was necessary to ‘redeem’ the land of England, i.e. alienate from all non-white and non-Christian peoples.
A fantasy? Well that is what the Jewish National Fund does. Founded in 1901 by the 5th Zionist Congress, it at first bought land from mainly absentee Arab landlords, such as Sursuk of Lebanon, and then they evicted the Arab peasants from that land. Ironically the ‘socialist’ Zionist settlements, the Kibbutzim and Kvutza were established on land paid for by the Jewish bourgeoisie outside Palestine.
In so doing the Zionists pursued a mode of colonisation more akin to that in the United States and Australia, where the indigenous population was either exterminated or simply driven into reservations, than the African colonies where those driven from the land were then re-employed on that land as wage labourers.
Zionism sought to exclude primarily not exploit the labour of the Arab workers, although they also used Arab labour for the worst tasks such as draining the Hula swamps. That is what makes Zionism so virulently racist.
Between 1948 and October 1951 the JNF ‘bought’ the land of the Palestinian refugees, some 2 million dunums. Prior to 1948 it had not even purchased at market prices 1 million dunums, let alone 3 million, so it tripled its holdings overnight. The JNF agreed with the Israeli state that the purchase would be at bargain basement prices (some claim that the whole transactions were a hoax and no money was actually exchanged) but ‘legally’ at least in Israeli law they were now the legal owners.
This is why 50 of us wrote to Ed Miliband urging him not to become a Patron of the JNF. We accept that he is getting his office together and that may be why he hasn't responded to our fax and e-mails, but just to be sure that he is aware of the issues, we sent a letter to the Guardian of 7th October 2010, which they printed, urging Miliband to show that his attempt to put New Labour's imperialist war mongering behind him is more than empty words.
The JNF, which is a para-state organisation, operating on behalf of the State whilst claiming it is independent, controls, 93% of Israeli land with the Israeli Lands Administration. In 1961 a series of 4 Acts including a Covenant between the JNF and the Israeli state meant that the JNF had an almost 50% partnership with the ILA to control and allocate all ‘national’ lands i.e. Jewish national lands.
From the mid-1990’s onwards, Israeli Arabs became increasingly vocal about their exclusion from virtually all ‘national’ land. Whilst their villages were either ‘unrecognised’ and liable for demolition or else were being strangled by the refusal to grant them more land to expand, Israeli settlements and towns flourished. Arab buildings built in defiance of planning permission are regularly demolished. West Bank settlements are never demolished and nearly always given planning permission. This is the reality of Israeli Apartheid.
Just one example of how the JNF saw things was the statements and activities of Joseph Weitz, Director of the JNF's Land Department and a hands-on person who was integrally involved in land-purchase and settlement activities. Weitz, who was described as “the originator and indefatigable champion of state seizure of Arab land”, wrote about his ethnic cleansing (Transfer) plan as early as 20 December 1940:
‘If the Arabs leave it, the country will become wide and spacious for us...The only solution is a Land of Israel, at least a western Land of Israel [i.e., Palestine], without Arabs. There is no room here for compromises... There is no way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, to transfer all of them, save few.”
(Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge University Press, 2004)
The JNF relentlessly pursued its plans of ethnic cleansing. Meron Benvenisti, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, stated:
“Josef Weitz of the JNF... pushed hardest for Israel to get rid of the Arabs and take possession of their land ... This man had worked for the expulsion of the Arabs with a zeal that his superiors tried to restrain. Despite that, he succeeded in mobilizing people and institutions to implement both "retroactive transfer" and the transfer that he himself had initiated …”
Nor is this just history. When the Israeli Supreme Court eventually, in the Ka’adan case ruled that the Israeli Lands Administration could not refuse to lease or rent land to Arab Israelis, the JNF asked on its web site – ‘Have the Jews dreamt for 2,000 years of living in a Jewish State or a Democratic State.’ Although this has now been removed, as far as I can tell, the replacement (above) is hardly more subtle, highlighting an opinion poll that 70% of Israelis are opposed to Israel being a state of all its citizens as opposed to its Jewish citizens.
This is the organisation that the wretched racist Gordon Brown, an imperialist to his heart, with a Christian Zionist father, and the war criminal Tony Blair became Patrons of. It is an organisation that David Cameron is a Patron of. We urge Ed Miliband not to follow in the footsteps of New Labour War Criminals.