IJAN Update on Confronting the Jewish National Fund

Purpose of the JNF

The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 to acquire land for Jewish settlement. As such, it was instrumental in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, which paved the way for a “Jewish state.” The JNF has continued to play a central role in controlling discriminatory access to land, as reflected in its current role in the dislocation of Bedouin communities in the Negev/Naqab desert.

Campaign to Stop the JNF

The International Campaign to Stop the JNFadheres to the 2005 Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with international lawand the universal principles of human rights, by ending Israeli military occupation, implementing the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land, and recognizing equal rights for all throughout Palestine.

The campaign was launched by the Habitat International Coalition (HIC), IJAN, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC).

IJAN’s role in the Campaign

This campaign fulfills a central role of IJAN: to directly expose and confront Zionist institutions and mobilize international sanctions against them. IJAN activists in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the US are active in the campaign. Two current projects include editing an e-book on the JNF and environmental racism, and co-editing an e-book on JNF activities in the Negev.  Most recently, we participated in protests at the annual conference of the JNF in the United States in Atlanta, Georgia, on 10 October. This included a demonstration outside of the event and disruption of the opening plenary. Video of the action is posted here and here.  An op-ed by an IJAN Atlanta activist is posted on Mondoweiss.

(To work with IJAN on the JNF campaign in the US, contact us at stopjnf.us@gmail.com.To join IJAN’s work on the campaign in other locations, for contributions to the e-books, or for other inquiries, contact us at ijan@ijsn.net.)

The larger field of activism

Meanwhile, an open letter was sent to the JNF by twenty-eight NGOs, human rights organizations and social movements from the Negev and Israel and eight American Jewish organizations.Citing “Israel’s commitment to the values of equality and justice enshrined in its Declaration of Independence,” it demands that the JNF cease its support for discriminatory policies of the Israeli government and the Israel Land Administration.

IJAN’s position

IJAN opposes the displacement of the Bedouin communities in the Negev and recognizes the urgency of the conditions in which Palestinian and Bedouin organizations inside of Israel are mobilizing toconfront the dangers facing them. The role IJAN takes within the international community is to support this struggle by exposing that theongoing dislocation and dispossession of the Palestinian people is entirely consistent with the Zionist premises upon which the Israeli state was established.

Appealing to the JNF to stop doing what it was constructed to do – acquire land in Palestine for Jews in order to facilitate securing an exclusive Jewish state – misrepresents the purpose and role of the organization. In doing so, it obscures the true nature of the JNF, making it more difficult to engage sanctions to hold them accountable to international law. For this reason, we opted to not sign the letter described above.  We have opted not to engage with the JNF on its rhetorical terms, and instead focus on its demonstrated commitment to maintaining Israel as an exclusively Jewish state.

 

For more information about IJAN, go to www.ijsn.net.  To add your organizational endorsement to the international campaign call against the JNF, go to http://stopthejnf.bdsmovement.net/.

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