The holiday of Tu B'Shvat, Planting Trees in Palestine and Stopping the JNF

After more than 100 years, the JewishNational Fund (JNF) still plays an integral part in the ethnic cleansing andcolonization of Palestine.  Aninternationally coordinated campaign against the JNF is about to launch and IJANis helping to build the campaign in the US and the UK, with additional activistsinvolved in several European countries. Campaign organizers recently returnedfrom a delegation to Palestine to build relationships with Palestinian, Bedouinand Jewish organizations in the lands occupied in 1948 (Israel) and in 1967(the West Bank) in preparation for partnering in the campaign against theJNF.  Look out forevents marking the international launch of the Stop the JNF campaign on LandDay, March 30, 2011.

Also, join us thisweek in celebrating Tu B’Shvat.  TuB’Shvat, known as the "New Year of Trees", is a Jewish holiday with along history. In ancient times, it was when farmers gave a portion of theirfruits and nuts to the poor. In the 17th century, Jewish mystics started havingservices, or seders, on Tu B’Shvat, eating symbolic foods.

In the 20th century, Tu B’Shvat was co-opted by the JewishNational Fund (JNF) as an occasion to raise money for the creation of the stateof Israel. The Jewish National Fund buys land in Palestine/Israel exclusivelyfor Jewish use. Through calling on Jews worldwide to donate and "plant atree in Israel", the JNF has helped create an apartheid system inPalestine/Israel where Jews are able to buy land and houses while non-Jews,including indigenous Palestinians, cannot. After 1948 and until today, the JNFplants forests and parks over Palestinian and Bedouin villages depopulated bythe Israeli government. This exploitation of ‘environmentalism’ is a way togreenwash atrocities against Palestinians.

As a statement of our commitment to resist the use of treesto cover up ethnic cleansing and the destruction of communities and land, wewill honor Tu B’Shvat by affirming the role of trees and plants in giving lifeand sustaining community.

In order to honor thevalue of trees and counter the work of the JNF year-round, we will launch aPlant a Tree in Palestine Project inthe coming weeks.  IJAN is partneringwith the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to re-launch thiscampaign they started two decades ago.  Wewill start by raising funds for olive trees to be planted in the West Bank. The campaign aims to directly address damage done by theJNF, which raises money to acquire trees used to forest land confiscated byIsrael. We hope that in honor of Tu B’shvat this year, you will considerpurchasing a tree to plant to Palestine. If you want to Plant a Tree in Palestine, or get involved in buildingthe campaign in your community, contact campaign@stopthejnf.org

In addition to honoring this holiday by countering thedestructive practices of the JNF, IJAN activists will be celebrating Tu B’Shvatin Baltimore, Chicago, Minneapolis, and the San Francisco Bay Area.  To join these events, or if you would likematerials to organize your own event, contact us at spiritual.network@ijsn.net

Getting educated and stayinginformed on the current injustices perpetrated by the JNF is a first step tostopping the ongoing confiscation of land in the name of environmentalism andJewish sovereignty built, literally, on the livelihood, well-being and safetyof the people living on that land. See http://baduannaqab.wordpress.com/english/five-injured-by-rubber-bullets-in-ninth-demolition-of-el-arakib/) for information about al-Arakib, a village in theNegev Desert. The homes of al-Arakib residents have now been destroyed ninetimes.  This time, on Sunday, January 16, police fired rubber bullets onthe residents who refused evacuation and five people were injured. Thisoccurred when large police forces entered the village accompanied by tractorsand trucks of the JNF.  A large police presence guarding JNF workers andequipment is still in place at this time.

In the weeks ahead, you will receive an invitation to sign apetition against the JNF, and in the next month, events to be held on Land Daywill be announced.  If you are interestedin participating in the international campaign to Stop the JNF campaign,contact campaign@stopthejnf.org .

 

Some of the text aboutTu B’Shvat was excerpted with permission from text written by Baltimore Jewsfor Human Rights.

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