by Alex Safron
There are 6 or 7 trees with my name on them in JNF parks. When I was born and when I became a bar-mitzvah, it was the tradition of some to “gift” a tree planted in Israel. In high school, when a friends father died, I got some people together to pitch in for a tree to be planted in his name. The pride I felt in doing such a “mitzvah” earned the respect of Jewish adults around me.
Until I became aware of the horrific role of the JNF in the ongoing displacement of Palestinians, until I walked through the seemingly endless walls of donor plaques in the USA JNF park only to later that same day meet Palestinian elders displaced from that very land in 1948, I could not have truly understood the violent strategies of the JNF. This “charity” organization serves as an integral part of and has an almost majority of seats on the Israeli government’s Land Authority. Their activities perpetuate lies that continue to impact Palestinian’s lives, removing them from their land while demolishing and destroying homes and villages. This does not represent me- not with my money or name.
As a fallen donor to the JNF, I am committing to learning about the organization and organizing with Jews and non-Jews to expose the JNF as anything but a charity. The JNF is responsible for displacing more than 750,000 people from their ancestral homelands and this in the name of creating a Jewish-only state.