Petition:

Fallen Donors Renouncing Our Role and Involvement in the Jewish National Fund

For years we put our pennies and dimes into our blue boxes, secure in the notion that we were contributing money for an ethical cause greater than ourselves – a cause that would ensure the survival of a nation and the beautification of a desert.

For years our parents and teachers led us to believe that here was the proof of Jewish superiority: that our donations went directly towards a tangible object – a tree, something that every country needs. When most countries were destroying their forests Israel was building its own. Where antisemitism was rampant in most countries, Judaism was embraced in Israel. We could be sure that in our countries, in the Diaspora, when the next Holocaust happened, we would be welcomed to sit safely and comfortably under a tree that we had planted ourselves in Israel.

Our parents and teachers left a few things out of their lessons. They probably didn’t know. But we can’t make the same mistake with our children.

The Jewish National Fund (in Hebrew Keren Kayemeth Leisrael) was founded in 1901 to acquire “lands, forests, rights of possession, easements…for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties” [1] in Palestine.  The acquisition of these lands for exclusively Jewish settlement has helped create and extend a racially defined “Jewish nation.” Indigenous Palestinians are barred from leasing, living on, managing or working their own land.[2]

The JNF has been instrumental in removing Palestinians from their homes and denying them the right to return. Its main method of ethnic cleansing is to destroy the Palestinians’ homes and plant trees over the ruins. More than 500 villages3 were destroyed this way between 1947 and 1949 in what Israel calls the War of Independence and the Palestinians call the Nakba or “catastrophe.” The ethnic cleansing continues today in the Negev (Naqab), East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.

Many of the Israeli National Parks consist of trees that you and I bought, which covered up the ruins of centuries-old Palestinian villages. The trees are not native to the climate of Palestine.  They grow quickly and change the ecosystem of the land on which they are planted. After a few years, the soil can no longer sustain the food crops on which the Palestinians depended. The JNF’s website says that it is “Caretakers of the land and people of Israel.” But in reality the JNF practices the reverse of sustainable ecological management and does it for the purpose of destroying the people and the memory of the people who lived there before.

No longer can we continue contributing to a “charity”4 whose purpose is ethnic cleansing. The Talmudic term “Tinok Shenishbameaning “captured infant” or one who has sinned without knowing, describes our sin of  participating in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine  by our contributions to the JNF. We now see the Jewish National Fund for what it is: an agency of the Israeli government which is instrumental in human rights abuses and international law violations. And although we once “fell” for the lies of this agency to which we contributed, we no longer will accept that deceit. We instead pledge to work for human rights and justice for all.

JNF Fallen Donors

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209 signatures

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[1] Articles of Association of Keren Kayemeth Leisrael

[2] With the minor exception of up to three years’ leasehold.

3 Morris, Benny The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

4 The Jewish National Fund has charitable status in more than 50 countries and all 50 United States.

 

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