The Scottish Green Party, yesterday condemned the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a British charity implicated in human rights violations in Israel. At its annual conference in Aberdeen, delegates unanimously supported a motion against the JNF and called for its charitable status to be revoked.
In May of this year, David Cameron resigned as honorary patron of the JNF, the first time in the history of the JNF that a British Prime Minister has not held this position. The Scottish Greens are the first elected party overtly to condemn the JNF.
The JNF claims to be ‘green’ because of its practice of planting trees in Palestine / Israel. Delegates heard that the JNF used tree planting to cover up the remains of Palestinian villages destroyed after Zionist armed militias expelled the inhabitants. Speakers described how this involvement in ethnic cleansing has been going on throughout the organisation’s history of over 100 years, especially following military expansion in 1948 and 1967; and that the JNF continues to be involved in the expulsion of Palestinian Bedouin in the Negev desert, to create and fund Jewish-only parks and settlements. Campaigners argue that these actions amount to the crimes of ‘apartheid’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’, illegal in international law.
The Scottish Greens condemned the JNF for using the ‘green’ label to practice crimes against the Palestinian people. The Greens add their endorsement to an international campaign to stop the JNF, launched by Palestinian civil society and international solidarity activists including Jewish anti-Zionists earlier this year.
Fiona Napier, attending the conference on behalf of the Stop the JNF Campaign, explained, “The JNF practices are being used by the Israeli state to prevent the right of return for refugees of the Nakba (catastrophe) when 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes for the establishment of the state of Israel.” Terry Gallogly of the Stop the JNF organising committee commented: “The importance of this vote should not be underestimated by anyone, it is a big step towards destroying the JNF’s attempt to greenwash its ethnic cleansing.”
The motion was proposed by Green Party member Dr Eurig Scandrett, who participated in a study tour of the JNF’s activities in Israel and the West Bank last year. Dr Scandrett said:
“Having witnessed the remains of Palestinian villages on JNF land in Israel, and heard an old woman tell her story of being forcibly driven out from one of those villages as a young mother over 60 years ago, I felt I had to do something about this organisation. There are signs in ‘British park’, proudly announcing that it was funded by JNF supporters in Glasgow, who were probably unaware that their donations were going towards ethnic cleansing.”
“I’m delighted that there has been this unanimous vote at conference for the Scottish Green Party to take a stand against the JNF, and our MSPs and Councillors will now take action to challenge the organisation’s activities in Scotland.”
Last month the Israeli cabinet approved plans for a large-scale ‘transfer’ of 30,000 Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab (Negev) desert from their ancestral lands and a further plan schedules the eviction of 27,000 Bedouin from their lands in the West Bank.
An Early Day Motion, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn and Gerald Kaufman in March is gaining support from MPs who believe that there is “just cause to consider revocation of the JNF’s charitable status in the UK”.
Notes for editors:
1. Motion passed at the SGP annual conference on 30th October 2011
“The Scottish Green Party 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 SGP endorses the international call for action against the JNF and supports efforts to revoke its charitable status in the UK.”
2. 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
3. ‘Cameron drops Israel ‘racist’ charity’, 27 May 2011
Stop the JNF Campaign: Media Release
4. Extract from ‘The British Park’ by Uri Davis, JNF e-book volume 1, p21
“The JNF-UK, as in other countries in Europe and the Americas, is a registered charity. The planting of the British Park over the lands of destroyed Palestinian villages, including Ajjur and Zakariyya, can in no way be described as ‘charitable’. Rather it ought to be classified as an act and as a policy of complicity with war crimes. The British Park and the recreational facility developed in the shade of its forest trees serve to veil from critical public view war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli army in the course of, and in the wake of, the 1948 war. This policy of complicity with war crimes has been maintained by subsequent Israeli Governments, underpinned by Acts of Parliament such as the Jewish National Fund Law of 1950 and the Covenant signed between the JNF and the state of Israel in 1961.”
5. The JNF in the Negev (Naqab)
‘Shattering Israel’s image of ‘democracy’’, The Guardian, 3 December 2009
‘Cameron-backed charity accused of discriminating against non-Jews’, 10 June 2010
‘The Israelis keep bulldozing their village, but still the Bedouin will not give up their land’, The Guardian, 1 March 2011
‘Stop creating forests that are destroying Bedouin lives’, Amnesty International, 11 April 2011
6. Israeli government approves plans to transfer 30,000 Palestinian Bedouin by Mansour Nsasra
The Electronic Intifada, 1 October 2011
7. 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 Ministeris a JNF honorary patron; and believes that there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF’s charitable status in the UK.”