In November 2020, Scottish PSC submitted a complaint to the Office of Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) against the charity KKL (Scotland), on the grounds that “KKL (Scotland) raises funds in Scotland for activities of the KKL-JNF in Israel which are not charitable but are in fact illegal, and further, that the unstated objective of KKL (Scotland) and all organisations in the JNF ‘family’, is the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians”.
Despite delays to their response (due to COVID lockdown) on 30th April 2021, a representative of OSCR provided the following statement:
I can confirm that we have reviewed the information we have regarding the charity, and our assessment is that OSCR have some regulatory matters which we are concerned about and therefore we have initiated contact with the charity trustees to request some further information.
SPSC have had no further communication from OSCR, but OSCR’s representative stated: “we do not provide updates on the detail of our inquiries to those who raise concerns with us, as to do so could prejudice the charity or our work. Due to the complexities of our casework, and the volume of information we need to review our inquiries can sometimes take many months to complete. With this in mind, please be aware that it could be a number of months until you hear from us again unless we have reason to request additional information from you, but I hope I can assure you that our inquiry process is robust and we will pursue all relevant avenues in a proportionate manner.”
The background to this action is a complaint sent by SPSC in 2007 following the registration of KKL (Scotland) as a charity. SPSC pointed out that the organisation’s relationship with KKL (Israel) and the object of its fundraising meant that it was ineligible for charitable status. Subsequent Freedom of Information requests revealed that OSCR had indeed investigated KKL (Scotland) and required the organisation to provide details of its financial operations. Between 2007 and 2010, KKL (Scotland) sent £120,000 towards the construction of a reservoir in Gazit, North Israel. OSCR was therefore satisfied that this fell within KKL (Scotland)’s charitable Objects of ‘water conservation in the State of Israel’ and ‘environmental protection … within the State of Israel … for the benefit of all its residents’.
In 2017, two members of SPSC had the opportunity to visit Gazit and observed that the reservoir in question was used for irrigation of intensive agriculture in Kibbutz Gazit, and inaccessible to the neighbouring Palestinian village of Kafr Misr. This example of water apartheid stretches the definition of water conservation and environmental protection, and certainly the only beneficiaries are the Jewish residents.
Moreover, further research revealed that the land occupied by Kibbutz Gazit on which the reservoir was constructed is part of the Palestinian village of al-Tira. The population of al-Tira was forcibly evicted in 1948 by the Haganah on the orders of the JNF’s Yosef Weitz, and the village destroyed. Subsequently, the land passed to the JNF for the permanent exclusion of al-Tira’s residents and establishment of Kibbutz Gazit. A clear line of culpability could therefore be demonstrated between ethnic cleansing activities of the JNF in Israel and the fundraising activities of the KKL (Scotland).
OSCR should certainly be concerned about ‘regulatory matters’ of KKL (Scotland) and we look forward to the outcome of the contact between the charity’s trustees and the regulator. KKL (Scotland) is revealed to be a branch of the JNF/KKL network whose purpose is ethnic cleansing.