JNF Criminal Enterprise

The Jewish National Fund: A Colonial Racist Instrument

By Dr. Ismail Zayid

The core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as stated by Dr. Uri Davis, a Palestinian Jewish scholar, is a conflict between the State of Israel as a settler racist colonial state in Palestine and the indigenous people of Palestine, the Arab-Palestinian people. The core of this conflict, like the core of the conflict in any confrontation between a colonial settler state and an indigenous people, lies in the claim of the colonial settler state to set aside the land for the use of the settler society and to dispossess the native population of their individual and collective property rights to the land of their ancestors.

The Jewish National Fund [JNF] is the essential instrument used to deprive the Palestinian people of their rights, and was created as the colonial arm of the World Zionist Organisation.

The JNF was established in 1901, as an instrument of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) to acquire and colonize land. With the enactment of the Israeli JNF Law (1953), which states, in clause 6, that it is permitted to set up an incorporated body in Israel for the continuation of the activities of the existing company that was founded and incorporated in Europe, JNF was registered as an Israeli company and the English company's assets were transferred to it. JNF is held by the state of Israel as a central tool of Judaization.

JNF's aim is to acquire and develop lands exclusively for the benefit of Jews. It is a multinational project with offices in 41 countries, confirmed in 2005. It derives tax-deductible dollars from many of these countries including the USA, Canada and UK. A little known fact about the JNF in the UK is that three of its honorary patrons were the then prime minister Tony Blair, Charles Kennedy, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and Michael Howard, the then leader of the Conservative Party, and Britain's current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is also a JNF patron. In Canada, Bob Rae, a committee member of JNF, has been appointed by Mr. Dion, Liberal Party leader, as the Liberal Party's Foreign Affairs Critic. These are the countries that claim to be able to play the role of honest brokers in the Palestine/Israel conflict, if you can believe that.

The fact is that JNF, in its operations in Israel, is in control of the illegally expropriated land of over 500 Palestinian villages, which had been ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces in 1948. The owners of this land are the Palestinian refugees, as well as land illegally expropriated from Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel who were labelled, by the Israeli government, under the Orwellian title of "Present Absentees", if they happened, in 1948, to be out of their homes, even for as little as a day or two while still in the land that became Israel. Where else, but in the Zionist lexicon would you find this Orwellian title of "present absent" people? JNF had actively participated in the planning of the physical destruction of many villages, in evacuating these villages of their inhabitants and in military operations to conquer these villages. Today JNF controls 13% of the land in Israel and and works hand in hand with the Israel Land Authority [ILA], which controls 80% of the land in Israel, which it leases to Jews only. It also planted many parks on Palestinian land. One of these parks is the infamy called Canada Park, which I will refer to later.

The JNF has a long record of discrimination against the Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel, as reported by the UN. In 1998, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stated that the practices of the Jewish National Fund "constitute an institutionalized form of discrimination" and are in breach of Israel's international legal obligations. In its report, the Committee said that:

"The Committee notes with grave concern that the Status Law of 1952 authorizes the World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency and its subsidiaries including the Jewish National Fund to control most of the land in Israel, since these institutions are chartered to benefit Jews exclusively. Despite the fact that the institutions are chartered under private law, the State of Israel nevertheless has a decisive influence on their policies and thus remains responsible for their activities. A State Party cannot divest itself of its obligations under the Covenant by privatizing governmental functions. The Committee takes the view that large-scale and systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and property by the State and the transfer of that property to these agencies constitute an institutionalized form of discrimination because these agencies by definition would deny the use of these properties by non-Jews. Thus, these practices constitute a breach of Israel's obligations under the [International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights]."

In 2005, the Attorney-General of Israel, Menachem Mazuz, stated that the Israel Land Authority should cut its ties with the Jewish National Fund because the JNF excludes Palestinian citizens of Israel from leasing its property. According to an article in the Jewish Daily Forward (18 March 2005):

"The attorney general's ruling followed appeals to the Supreme Court by two Israeli civil-rights organizations, claiming that the exclusion of Arab Israelis from JNF properties — some 13% of Israel's territory — was racist and violated the principle of equality before the law. In its reply, the lands authority noted that JNF properties are "intended for the development of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel," and that "all the funds of the JNF are from Jewish donors.[sic]" Mazuz declined to defend the case, concluding that the authority's claim would not hold up in court. The justices had ruled in an earlier case that "Jews-only" clauses were illegal.

These discriminatory practices which deny, by Israeli laws and practices, the Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel the rights allowed to Jewish citizens, in almost all the lands in Israel, are contrary to the values of any state that claims democracy. In 2000, the Supreme Court of Israel issued a ruling (the Qa'dan case) that challenged the JNF's exclusionary policies and practices. In July 2007, the Israeli Knesset passed the first reading of the Jewish National Fund Bill, which seeks to undo the 2000 ruling by the Supreme Court of Israel. The proposed legislation states that the: "leasing of Jewish National Fund's lands for the purposes of the settlement of Jews on these lands will not be seen as improper discrimination." The Bill has been criticized, in a leading article in Haaretz, a most influential Israeli daily nespaper. The editorial, July 20, 2007, titled: "A racist Jewish state", stated:

"This bill reflects an abasement of the Zionist enterprise to lows never imagined in the Declaration of Independence . . . The Jewish National Fund's land policy counters the interests of the state and cannot discriminate by law against the minority living in Israel."

Israel's Jewish National Fund (JNF) has been planting the seeds of apartheid in the Middle East for the past century, "redeeming the land", as they call it, by dispossessing native Palestinians and instituting exclusionist "Jews Only" land laws. Ninety-three percent of the state's land is now owned by the JNF and its affiliates, the Israel Land Authority [ILA]. The indigenous Palestinian population, even those that are Israeli citizens, can't buy, lease, rent, use or reside on JNF land. This Zionist system of racist exclusivism of the JNF and Israel's unabashedly ethnocentric apartheid laws are clearly confirmed in the statements by the JNF and Israeli leaders.

From the early months of 1948 to this day, JNF has followed illegal practices in violation of international law and certain domestic laws where it operates. These can fall in the following categories:

Ethnic Cleansing and Destruction of Property

According to the Nuremberg Charter, War Crimes are defined as:

Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

JNF had followed systematically in 1948, and thereafter, practices which fall in the above prohibited categories. Quite early, before the 1948 hostilities in Palestine began, JNF conspired with the Israeli "military experts" to conquer, evacuate, and settle new Jewish immigrants in Palestinian villages,

"In the period preceding the 1948 War, almost all of the new settlements were established in response to decisions by the Jewish political leadership, based on plans drawn by military experts. The role of the settlement agencies (JNF, the Jewish Agency, and the settlement movements) was reduced to determination of the exact locations for new settlements and allocation of resources...[JNF] Committees actively engaged in settlement planning early in the war laid out a plan calling for the establishment of more than a hundred new settlements intended to absorb 1 million or 1.5 million new immigrants in the space of three years..." { Meron Benvenisti, "Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land. Berkeley", University of California press, 2000}

The objective was to seize Palestinian villages and ethnically cleanse them. This is what actually happened. Yosef Weitz, director of the JNF's Land Department and a key land-purchasing and settlement executive, a man 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}

JNF pursued relentlessly 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.."
Discrimination and Apartheid against the Palestinian Citizens of Israel

JNF acts on behalf of "the Jewish people" everywhere in the use and exploitation of expropriated Palestinian land in Israel and discriminates against the non-Jewish Palestinian citizens of Israel. The use of Palestinian land expropriated by the state of Israel was challenged by the non-Jewish citizens before Israeli courts. Uri Avnery, the former member of the Knesset and the Israeli peace activist, stated, "[JNF] has become an instrument for institutionalized discrimination" { Uri Avnery "Dunam After Dunam" Israel Horizons, Spring 2005}

The racist Apartheid policies of the JNF are confirmed in their statement before the Israeli High Court, in answer to the charge made by ADALAH, the Arab Centre for Arab Minority Rughts group in Israel, which was challenging the policy of discrimination:

"The JNF is not required to act for the good of all of Israel's citizens. It is forbidden to act to allocate lands to all of the state's citizens... The JNF's loyalty is not and cannot be for the benefit of the Israeli public."
(Jewish National Fund statement to the Israeli High Court as reported in Ha'aretz, Dec. 17, 2004)

The fact that these racist policies are accurately defined as Apartheid policies is best confirmed by the then prime minister of Apartheid South Africa, Hendrik Verwoerd, who on visiting Israel in 1961 testified to the exact parallel stating:

"The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs lived there for a thousand years [sic]. Israel, like South Africa, is an Apartheid state."

Similarly, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, during a Christmas visit to Jerusalem in 1989, stated:

"I am a black South African, and if I were to change names, a description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank could describe events in South Africa."

Willie Madishu, President of the Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU], in an open letter, on June 6, 2006, to Sid Ryan, President of Canadian Union of Public Employees [CUPE] Ontario, stated :

"As someone who lived in apartheid South Africa and who has visited Palestine, I say with confidence that Israel's actions make the actions of South Africa's apartheid regime appear pale by comparison."

Shulamit Aloni, a veteran Israeli writer, former Israeli cabinet minister and a peace and women's rights activist stated, in her article titled:

"Indeed There Is Apartheid in Israel" [Outlook, March/April 2007 issue]:
. . . the government of Israel practices a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies. Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fenced-in, or blocked-in detention camp."

"Yesterday, the Israeli Parliament approved, in preliminary reading, a bill that calls for all lands under the control of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to be allocated to Jews only. In this way Israel strikes another blow against democracy, fueling discrimination and Apartheid. The proposal of the bill, initiated by the Israeli right wing, Kadima and Likud, prevents non-Jews from participating in bids to purchase land owned by the JNF (Jewish National Fund), 13 percent of all state land." {" Israeli land for Jews only. Isn't that racism?", Luisa Morgantini, Vice president of the European Parliament. Live Journal. July 24, 2007}

Meron Benvenisti, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and a noted Israeli political scientist, Wrote:

"It's very surprising since it's well known that the "national institutions", the Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund, primarily exist to enable institutional discrimination based on ethnicity while clearing the state from accusations that it deviates from universal norms common to liberal democracies." { Haaretz. June 29, 2006}

Violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on July 9, 2004 as follows:

101: In view of the foregoing, the Court considers that the Fourth Geneva Convention is applicable in any occupied territory in the event of an armed conflict arising between two or more High Contracting Parties. Israel and Jordan were parties to that Convention when the 1967 armed conflict broke out. The Court accordingly finds that that Convention is applicable in the Palestinian territories which before the conflict lay to the east of the Green Line and which, during that conflict, were occupied by Israel, there being no need for any enquiry into the precise prior status of those territories.

Thus the West Bank and Gaza Strip are "occupied territories" and the Fourth Geneva Convention applies. The Statute of Rome of July 1998 prohibited ethnic cleansing or removal and replacement of the inhabitants in very strong terms. Article 8 (War Crimes) of Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines "war crimes":

Para 2, a, iv: ...extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly . . .

Para 2, b, viii: The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.

It is in the contxt of the role of the Canadian JNF and the Israeli violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the war crimes committed, where Canada is complicit in these war crimes, by allowing the so-called charitable status of the Canadian JNF to use Canadian tax-deductible dollars and Canada's name to be used in the infamous war crime, called Canada Park, that I wish to discuss. This infamy was constructed on the ruins of the three villages, Imwas [Emmaus], Yalu and Beit Nuba [my own hometown]. These three villages were systematically dynamited and bulldozed on June 6, 1967, on the direct orders of Yitzhak Rabin, the then chief of staff of the Israeli army, in the war of aggression committed by Israel on June 5, 1967, against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. These three villages were occupied, without a single shot being fired, then bulldozed and their population, of over 12 thousand, expelled from their land, a clear war crime. The destruction of the Palestinian villages, and the denial of the villagers' right to return to their homes, are grave violations of the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949. In 1986, a United Nations Special Committee reported to the Secretary-General (UN Report A/41/680, 20 October 1986) that it was concerned about:

". . . the fate of the inhabitants of Emmaus, Beit-Nuba and Yalou, reduced to the state of wandering refugees since their villages were razed by the occupying authorities in 1967. The Special Committee considers it a matter of deep concern that these villagers have persistently been denied the right to return to their land on which Canada Park has been built by the Jewish National Fund of Canada and where the Israeli authorities are reportedly planning to plant a forest instead of allowing the reconstruction of the destroyed villages."

The arrogance of the JNF and its inhumanity was highlighted by its refusal to put signs at the sites of these villages, as called for by the Israeli activist group, Zochrot [We Remember], in a gesture of reflecting true history and remembrance. In response to this JNF defiance, Zochrot took the issue to the Israeli Civil Administration and the High Court. It is reported that signs are now placed at the sites of these villages.

The Canadian JNF[CJNF] was involved in collecting 15 million dollars, from Canadian taxpayers responding to the invitation by the CJNF to build Canada Park on the ruins of these illegally occupied and demolished villages, in return for tax receipts. My direct involvement in the campaign against the CJNF as a registered Canadian charity started on Dec. 4, 1978, when I read in an article in The Halifax Herald, reporting the Negev Testimonial Dinner, honouring Peter Herschorn for his 'humanitarian' activity and "choosing the right goodness", in building Canada Park. Peter Herschorn is a past regional chairman of the CJNF and chairman of the Halifax-Israel bond campaign. The dinner and the honouring process was attended by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Clarence Gosse, the premier, John Buchanan and the Mayor of Halifax, Edmund Morris. I wrote to these men expressing my horror that they would allow their names to be associated with such a war crime. I said, since when has the destruction of thousands of innocent peoples' homes and their expulsion from their land is considered "a humane" activity, which in fact is an example of " Zionist callous disregard to all human values." I received an apology from the Lieutenant Governor, Dr. Clarence Gosse, but no reply from the others.

Since then, I have been writing to various ministers of National Revenue and Canadian prime ministers, protesting the granting of the charitable status to the CJNF and allowing our tax dollars to be used in this war crime, as defined by international law and in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which our country is a signatory. In response I get a letter stating ; " The officials of Revenue canada, taxation, have been asked to review the matter raised in your letter and the Minister will provide you with a reply as soon as possible." Many months later, I would write asking for the outcome of the promised review, and the regular answer, from the then Minister, would be "..that the confidentiality provisions of the Income Tax Act prohibit me from discussing the taxation affairs of any registered charity." And this went on for years. I received honourable support from the late Senator Heath Macquarrie and R.A.Corbett, MP, who wrote to Ministers of Revenue Canada quoting my letters. They, too, received similar answers.

My activities on this issue, on the other hand, received the characteristic Zionist callous disregard for humanity and insolence, by sending me a certificate, from the CJNF, stating that:

"A tree has been planted in Canada Park, Israel, in tribute to Dr. I. Zayid."

I responded to this insult by rejecting their inhumanity, stating:

"The trees that my forefathers and I have planted on our land have been uprooted, together with our homes, by Zionist bulldozers in my village Beit Nuba after the 1967 war. You may be assured that I shall plant my own trees on my own land when we return to Palestine, our homeland, and WE WILL RETURN."

Regardless of this insolence, we are still working in the campaign to see to it that the government of Canada will not continue to allow this outrageous status for the CJNF to remain as a registered charitable society. We have recently established a group, in cooperation with Dr. Uri Davis, the Palestinian Jewish scholar who has maintained a life- long campaign against Apartheid Israel. We are also, in the process of seeking legal advice in the hope to take this matter to the court of law.

This effort must remain as a part of our continuing struggle to combat Zionism and regain our fundamental rights in our homeland, Palestine. And I assure you that Zionism is running against the natural course of history and will face the same destiny as that of Apartheid South Africa. Our struggle must continue, and we shall ovecome.

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