In light of the People’s Climate Mobilization (PCM) in New York City during the weekend of September 21, said to have been the largest climate justice march in history with over 400,000 attendees, it is important to recognize the shifting landscape of the environmental movement. From a movement that has been largely white and middle class, there is an emerging movement that recognizes the importance of centering the leadership and issues of people of color and poor people most impacted by the climate crisis. Equally imperative, the framing of environmental issues should always include anti-colonial struggles and indigenous rights and sovereignty, as concerns over the environment can never be separated from indigenous struggles for land, resources and decolonization, as was laid out very clearly by indigenous organizers and activists of the PCM.
In the PCM’s effort to cast a wide net and include a broad range of people and groups concerned about climate change, it also brought in some organizations that do not belong in movements advancing an agenda of environmental and social justice. The PCM put out a statement explaining that it “will bring together a spectrum of people with a broad range of perspectives.” Yet the net was cast so wide that it attracted Zionist organizations to participate in the climate justice rally, including the Green Zionist Alliance (GZA), a classic greenwashing organization, whose stated purpose is “to educate and mobilize people around the world for Israel’s environment [and] to protect Israel’s environment,” which includes “planting millions of trees” in Israel.
The GZA was co-founded by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) international board member, Alon Tal, in 2001. The Jewish National Fund (JNF), a parastatal organization of Israel that has 501(c)3 non-profit status in the US, has historically existed — in its own racist and discriminatory terms — for the purposes of acquiring land for Jewish-only use. The JNF gathers international charitable donations to plant forests over ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages in present-day Israel. As the Stop the JNF Campaign explains, the GZA and JNF greenwash apartheid with tree plantings in order to a) cover up the violent ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israeli forces and b) make it more difficult for Palestinians to return to their villages because of the presence of these foreign forests.
International resistance is building toward the JNF, however. The Stop the JNF Campaign, for example, educates people about the JNF’s role in ethnic cleansing, greenwashing apartheid with fake forests, and why the JNF’s 501(c)3 non-profit status should be revoked, in order to stop its racist policies and ongoing role in the colonization of Palestine. Recently, the campaign screened Enduring Roots: over a century of resistance to the Jewish National Fund, a film about the violence of the JNF and Palestinian resistance to it. It was sponsored by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), Movement Generation, and Phat Beets Produce, and was attended by Friends of the Earth – Scotland and other Environmental and Climate Justice organizations, with whom we are working in order to continue marginalizing the GZA and JNF from environmental spaces. The Stop the JNF Campaign is looking to further expand this work by continuing to screen the film with other environmental justice groups this year and beyond in order to eliminate greenwashing organizations from our environmental justice movements.
In addition, the campaign to Stop the JNF is picking up steam in Canada. Together with Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) – Canada, the Campaign presented a workshop on the JNF at the People’s Social Forum in Ottawa. At a recent JNF Canada event, Stop the JNF, IJV, and other Palestine Solidarity activists staged a series of interruptions during a speech by Shaul Mofaz, which you can read about and watch here. Upcoming events include workshops at the University of Toronto and at the “Doing Jewish Off the Grid” conference, and organizing a protest against the annual “Negev Gala” in Toronto. Stop the JNF members are also working on research with IJV for a legal complaint, in addition to a postcard campaign to Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the MP responsible for the Canada Revenue Agency.
If you’d like to get involved in the US Stop the JNF Campaign or organize a screening of Enduring Roots, please email us at: stopthejnfcampaign.us@