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Sunday, 29 May 2011

David Cameron Resigns as Patron of the JNF

Greenwash will no longer wash away the Crimes of the Jewish National Fund

They must have hoped that no one would notice. One day the JNF listed David Cameron as a patron and the next day he was gone! If only all our victories could come as sweetly as this! Of course, as Cameron’s spokesperson explained, the problem was ‘time constraints.’ Quite. Presumably the previous 2 Prime Ministers, war criminal Tony Blair and Gordon ‘no more boom & bust’ Brown had so little to do that they wandered around trying to find organisations prepared to accept them as patrons!

Founded in 1901 as the principal land settlement wing of the Zionist Organisation, the JNF role has been the equivalent of a money launderer, except that it dealt in stolen land rather than stolen money. The Israeli government, through a plethora of laws: the Absentee Property Law 1950 and the “Jewish National Fund (Keren Keyemeth Le Israel Law Law)” (1953) which granted it special status and set up a new JNF company, the JNF became in effect a quasi-governmental organisation administering policies the government couldn't be seen to openly administer.

These were coupled with the later Basic Law - Israel Lands; Israel Lands Law; Israel Lands Administration Law of 1960 The Covenant between the Government of Israel and the JNF, 1961 and the Agricultural Settlement (Restriction on Use of Agricultural Land and Water) Law, 1967 (which made it a criminal offence for a lessee of the JNF to lease land to non-Jews). The JNF and the Israeli Lands Administration had in effect joined forces and between them controlled 93% of Israeli land.

Although originally the JNF purchased land, usually from absentee landlords, in order to create its Jewish-only settlements, less than 7% of land in Palestine had been purchased by 1948, albeit that the land was of better quality than the average or as with the kibbutzim, strategically situated . After 1948 the JNF took possession of 35% of confiscated Palestinian land. Nearly 2.4 million dunumes was transferred to the JNF between January 1949 and October 1950.

The Memorandum of Association, effectively the constitution of the JNF Association Ltd. was quite explicit. Article 3 (a) stated that the purpose of the JNF was ‘To purchase, acquire on lease or in exchange, etc.,. . . in the prescribed region (which expression shall in this Memorandum mean the State of Israel in any area within the jurisdiction of the Government of Israel) or any part thereof, for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties." (Government Gazette No. 354, 10.6.1954).

But this situation, whereby a Zionist organisation administered on behalf of the Israeli State, land which Arab citizens of Israel could not use, or when it was leased to them by the ILA, the JNF was 'compensated' by other state land, could not continue. After having prevaricated for 10 years

In its response of December 2004, to a petition filed by Adalah to the Supreme Court of Israel – HC 9205/04) in the Kadan case the JNF stated quite explicitly that ‘“The JNF is not the trustee of the general public in Israel. Its loyalty is given to the Jewish people in the Diaspora and in the state of Israel... The JNF, in relation to being an owner of land, is not a public body that works for the benefit of all citizens of the state. The loyalty of the JNF is given to the Jewish people and only to them is the JNF obligated. The JNF, as the owner of the JNF land, does not have a duty to practice equality towards all citizens of the state.”

But it is recent events and the repeated demolition of the peaceful bedouin village of Al Arakhib in the Negev, for the sole purpose of ‘Judaification of the Negev’ which has brought the Greenwash politics of the JNF under the spotlight. The village has been repeatedly demolished, some 21 times, by JNF bulldozers, which in the past two weeks have finally beaten a retreat. The publicity may have become too much.

The JNF has promoted itself as a ‘Green’ organisation, planting forests and parks, omitting to say that its ‘green’ credentials have come about because of its desire to eradicate all trace and mention of the former occupants of the land it is planting, such as the establishment of Canada Park over the ruins of 3 Palestinian villages including the ancient Immwas in the West Bank. The decision by Scotland Friends of the Earth to oppose the JNF and all its racist works is welcome and we look forward to a similar stance by other environmental and green organisations.

The result is that the JNF has now become a toxic brand. Only New Labour it seems values an association with it although even Ed Miliband has kept his distance from this apartheid organisation (whilst refusing to answer questions on whether or not he would sponsor the organisation like his predecessors). See

On 7th October 2010, 50 of us wrote urging that Miliband not become a patron of this apartheid organisation. On 20th October, in response to a lying letter from the Chairman of British JNF, Samuel Hayek, who had the effrontery to say the JNF didn’t discriminate on grounds of religion, when all he had to do was look at its name(!), both Barry Stierer and myself of Brighton PSC had letters printed by the Guardian. Hayek didn’t reply to them this time around.

Now we have the final humiliation, with David Cameron deciding to cut his links. The time is rapidly approaching when the Charity Commission is going to have to decide that the JNF no longer fulfills charitable objectives and therefore should not qualify for tax exempt status. In a report by the Jewish Chronicle of 26th May 2011, we learn that:
JNF UK has declined to say why Prime Minister David Cameron's name has disappeared from its list of honorary patrons.

Twelve days ago the pro-Palestinian Stop the JNF campaign wrote to Mr Cameron, reiterating a previous request for him to withdraw as patron of the charity.

Mortaza Sahibzada, of Stop the JNF, said: "His name has been taken off the list and that is significant. Someone has decided to take it off and I doubt whether it was JNF." Mr Cameron became an honorary patron of JNF five years ago, whose other patrons still include Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

In its latest letter to Mr Cameron, Stop the JNF complained that the JNF British Park was planted on the ruins of two Palestinian villages after the 1948 war.

But Downing Street said that a review of all the Prime Minister's links with charities had been made when the coalition came into office. A number had been dropped, including JNF, the spokesman said, citing time constraints on Mr Cameron.
28 May 2011

Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation votes unanimously to support the campaign to Stop the JNF.
Stan Blackley
Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland

"Our members at today’s AGM voted overwhelmingly to endorse the international call to stop the JNF. At today's land rights conference the activities of the JNF were brought to the attention of our members, supporters and interested members of the public. Our organisation is pleased to join the call for the revocation for the JNF's charitable status in the UK and to help raise awareness on this little known issue."
Andy Wightman
Author of 'Who Owns Scotland' and 'The Poor had no Lawyers', independent writer and researcher on issues of land and democracy. Keynote speaker ('Land rights in Scotland and Palestine') at 2011 Friends of the Earth Scotland Conference Land Rights Conference in Edinburgh.

"I am delighted that Friends of the Earth Scotland has voted to endorse the call to stop the JNF. The JNF has played a central role in the expropriation of Palestinian land and it is high time that it was exposed for the crimes it has been complicit in committing."

Challenge the JNF: Stop the JNF Campaign Workshops, London, 4 June 2011

The campaign to Stop the JNF calls on human rights supporters, refugee rights and environmental justice campaigners to take action in support of the right of Palestinians to return to the homes and villages they were driven from. We invite individuals and organisations to participate in the June 4th workshop on the JNF and how to challenge its support and collusion in illegal occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

Date: Saturday 4 June 2011
Venue: LSE, Houghton Street, London
Jointly hosted by: LSE Palestine Solidarity Society & Stop the JNF Campaign
Registration: £5
Contact details:

Registration: 10-10.30am
Welcome: 10.30-10.45am

Session 1 - What is the JNF: 10.45am-12.15pm
The JNF and its role in ethnic cleansing and in establishing and maintaining apartheid.
Lunch: 12.15-1.15pm

Session 2 - The JNF and the environmental justice movement: 1.15-2.45pm

Session 3 - How to fight the JNF: 3-4.30pm
The Stop the JNF Campaign: founding; international co-ordination and partnerships; strategies to challenge the JNF; results and prospects.

Session 4 - The next practical steps: 4.45-6.15pm
Feedback from workshop sessions. Organising & break-out sessions: lobbying, informing the public and media; direct action; collaboration with other campaign networks, i.e. anti-racist, environmental, trade union, students.

Stop the JNF Campaign

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