The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) today added to the increasing number of organisations denouncing what has been labelled the discriminatory nature of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and its practices in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories[i]. The STUC resolution follows a similar motion passed overwhelmingly by the Green Party of England and Wales in February this year, and last year by the Scottish Green Party, Scottish Friends of the Earth and others[ii]. Last year also saw David Cameron resign as Honorary Patron of the JNF, the first time in its 111 year history that the serving British Prime Minister does not hold this position[iii].
Delegates at the STUC’s annual congress unanimously endorsed the international call for action against the JNF. The call highlights the crucial role the JNF played in the “ethnic cleansing of Palestine in the 1948 Nakba [Catastrophe], and continues to play…in maintaining Israel’s regime of apartheid.”[iv]
The 450 delegates in Inverness also called for the removal of the JNF’s charitable status in the UK, problematic given the JNF’s role in fundraising for establishing and maintaining British Park in Israel, built in the 1950s over two Palestinian villages, Ajur and Zakariyya. Salah Ajarma, whose family was driven from Ajjur in 1948 during the mass forced displacement of Palestinians of that year spoke from Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem of the STUC’s decision to expose and campaign against the JNF:
“The JNF’s ‘British Park’ is built on the ruins of my ethnically cleansed village, Ajur.’British Park’ is an example not only of the ethnic cleansing process that has being ongoing for more than 60 years now, it is also an example of the role that a registered British Charity play in that process. Whilst the JNF has many influential supporters in the UK and internationally, we, as Palestinian refugees are proud of the ‘real’ human solidarity that is demonstrated by the STUC’s commitment to our case and of our many friends around the world who truly support the human and national rights of the Palestinian people. We hope that the STUC’s principled lead is an example that is followed by all trade unions of the world. The Scottish people stood prominently against South African Apartheid, and we are proud to have them standing defiantly alongside us in our struggle against Israel’s 21st century apartheid regime.”
The call for the revocation of the JNF’s charitable status has also been backed by 70 MPs who have signed up to Early Day Motion 1677 or a parallel[v].
Rab Paterson, delegate from Midlothian Trades Union Council, raised the motion and concluded by calling delegates to action: “Congress, the JNF control of land in Israel and in the occupied territories actively discriminates against Palestinians. Let’s expose this role and let’s campaign to get the JNF’s charity status removed”. The STUC General Council spoke to the motion, stating that they had already agreed at their March meeting that “the activities of the JNF in respect of expropriated and illegally occupied Palestinian land and its stated position of not having a duty to practice equality towards all citizens of the state” had led them to take forward all the recommendations of the motion.
Stop the JNF spokesperson, Dave Black, who attended Congress, said: “The STUC delegates’ unanimous endorsement of the call means the broadest trade union support for the Stop the JNF Campaign. This will bring forward the day when the charitable status of such an openly racist organisation is revoked”.
Congress delegates also agreed three other resolutions relating to Palestine. Delegates voted to back Palestinian political prisoners currently on hunger strike in protest at conditions for Palestinians in Israeli jails, recently denounced by Amnesty International, and further added STUC support to the national demonstration that has been called in support of Palestinian prisoners on Saturday, April 28th in Edinburgh [vi]. Another Congress resolution on Palestine calls for support for the recent Welcome to Palestine initiative which saw activists from around the world be prevented from reaching the West Bank to engage in political discussion and educational projects. Those taking part were either prevented from entering by Israeli authorities and detained in jail before being deported, while others were prevented from boarding flights in the UK[vii].
Notes for editor
[i] Full text of the motion passed by the STUC resolution, 23.04.12: ‘That this Congress notes; that the Jewish National Fund acquisition and control of land in Israel and the occupied territories actively discriminates against Palestinians. Congress calls on the General Council to: endorse the international call for action against the Jewish National Fund; campaign to expose the role of the Jewish National Fund in the oppression of Palestinian; campaign to have the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund revoked’.
[ii] “Green Party conference calls for revocation of JNF UK charitable status”, http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/green-party-conference-calls-revocation-jnf-uk-charitable-status February 27th 2012
“UK Green Party Endorses Call Campaign Against JNF” http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/uk-green-party-endorses-campaign.html February 27th 2012
“Scottish Green Party reject ‘green’ claims of charity involved in ethnic cleansing of Palestinians”, http://another-green-world.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/scottish-green-party-reject-green.html November 1st, 2011
“Environmental claim of JNF slammed following news of Cameron’s resignation”, http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/05/480266.html May 31st, 2011
[iii] David Cameron resigns as patron of the Jewish National Fund, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/may/29/david-cameron-resigns-patron-jnf May 29th, 2011
[iv] The Stop the JNF Campaign 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 Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 by the World Zionist Organisation and mandated to obtain land for the sole use of persons of ‘Jewish faith, race or ancestry’. It was first registered in the UK, and has retained a fundraising and propaganda function in Britain since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948. Through its landholdings and its influence on the Israel Land Authority, the JNF controls 93% of the land in Israel on which it practices its ethnic exclusion policies.
The JNF 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 organisations enjoy charitable status in over 50 countries.
For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 07931200361
[v] Early day motion 1677, JEWISH NATIONAL FUND, Session: 2010-12
“That this House welcomes the Stop the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Campaign launched on 30 March 2011 by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others to inform the public about the JNF – Karen Kayemet L’Yisrael, its ongoing illegal expropriation of Palestinian land, concealing of destroyed Palestinian villages beneath parks and forests, and prevention of refugees from returning to their homes; notes that the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews; further notes that the UN rejected the JNF USA’s application for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council on the ground that it violates the principles of the UN Charter on Human Rights; regrets that the Prime Minister is a JNF honorary patron; and believes that there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF’s charitable status in the UK.”
[vi] ‘Amnesty joins global actions on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day with Twitter campaign’ http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/adri-nieuwhof/amnesty-joins-global-actions-palestinian-prisoners-day-twitter-campaign April 17th, 2012
[vii] Israel Forces Airline to Cancel Tickets of British “Flytilla” Activists’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/13/palestinian-territories-israel?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487 April 13th 2012
‘Israel blocks entry to pro-Palestinian activists at airport’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/15/israel-blocks-entry-pro-palestinian-activists April 15th 2012