British Prime Minister ends ties with JNF
Prime Minister David Cameron has quietly terminated his status as an Honorary Patron of the controversial Jewish National Fund (JNF). His office confirmed he had “stepped down”. For many years leaders of all three main political parties became Honorary Patrons of the JNF by convention. According to Dick Pitt, a spokesperson for the Stop the JNF Campaign, “Cameron was the only leader of the three major parties remaining as a JNF Patron. This decline in political support for the JNF at the highest levels of the political tree may be a sign of the increasing awareness in official quarters that a robust defence of the activities of the JNF may not be sustainable.”
The news of Cameron’s move has reached Palestinians in refugee camps, people whose land is under the control of the JNF. Salah Ajarma in Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp was “delighted to hear the news that the British Prime Minister has decided to withdraw his support for this sinister organisation involved in ethnic cleansing. My village, Ajjur, was taken by force from my family and given to the JNF who used money from JNF UK to plant the British Park on its ruins. For the Palestinians who were evicted from their villages and have been prevented from returning, Cameron's withdrawal is another victory on the road to achieving justice and freedom for the Palestinians".
The JNF chairman Samuel Hayek defends the work of the organisation saying, “for over 100 years we have had one mission: to settle and develop the Land of Israel” as pioneers of the “historic Zionist dream”. The registered charity claims their work, especially in the Negev region of Israel, deals with “the rising demographic challenges faced by Israel”. In recent months the JNF’s activities in the Negev have received extensive international media coverage, linking them to the demolition of Palestinian Bedouin villages and confiscation of the land of the village. Campaigners report that “even Israeli courts have criticised the JNF as an organisation that discriminates against non-Jews and there is mounting evidence of the JNF’s involvement in Israel’s programme to change the ethnic composition of areas inside 1948 Israel as well as in Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories. It is not acceptable that such an organisation is allowed to operate in the UK, much less to enjoy charity status”.
Michael Kalmanovitz, UK co-ordinator of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, said “Cameron’s patronage of the JNF lent parliamentary credibility to a criminal organisation backed by a highly-equipped occupying army and masquerading as a ‘humanitarian charity’. Now parliamentarians who are ‘Friends of Israel’ must consider how much longer they can defend Israeli apartheid and worse.“
Pressure has been mounting on Cameron and the JNF. An Early Day Motion in the Westminster Parliament highlighted the Prime Minister’s status as honorary patron and claimed that “there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF's charitable status in the UK”. UK and international JNF fund-raising events increasingly face protests due, campaigners argue, to “a shift in public opinion on Israel generally”. In 2007, the American JNF application for consultative status on a key UN committee was rejected because delegates were unable to distinguish between the activities of the US Branch and those of the JNF in Israel whose activities the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concerns about.
The Stop the JNF Campaign has workshops planned in London on 4 June 2011 and protests against JNF fundraising activities will be organised throughout the coming year.
Notes for editors:
1. The Stop the JNF Campaign is an international campaign aimed at ending the role of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeIsrael) (JNF-KKL) in:
the on-going displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their land
the theft of their property
the funding of historic and present day colonies, and
the destruction of the natural environment.
The JNF continues to serve as a global fundraiser for Israeli ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid. Despite its role in a State institution of Israel (the Israel Land Authority) and in institutionalized racism and apartheid, the JNF and its affiliate organizations enjoy charitable status in over 50 countries.
For further information, contact [email protected], 07931200361
2. Email from Prime Minister’s Press Office, Thu, 26 May 2011
Following the formation of the Coalition Government last year, a review
was undertaken of all the organisations and charities the Prime Minister
was associated with. As a result of this review, the Prime Minister
stepped down from a number of charities - this included the JNF. A full
list of all the charities and organisations the Prime Minister and Mrs
Cameron are associated with is published on the Cabinet Office website.
Prime Minister's Press Office
10 Downing Street
020 7930 4433
3. ‘Cameron Becomes New JNF Patron’, TotallyJewish.com, 2nd February 2006
4. Extract from ‘The British Park’ by Uri Davis, JNF e-book volume 1, p21
“The JNF-UK, as in other countries in Europe and the Americas, is a registered charity. The planting of the British Park over the lands of destroyed Palestinian villages, including Ajjur and Zakariyya, can in no way be described as ‘charitable’. Rather it ought to be classified as an act and as a policy of complicity with war crimes. The British Park and the recreational facility developed in the shade of its forest trees serve to veil from critical public view war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli army in the course of, and in the wake of, the 1948 war. This policy of
complicity with war crimes has been maintained by subsequent Israeli Governments, underpinned by Acts of Parliament such as the Jewish National Fund Law of 1950 and the Covenant signed between the JNF and the state of Israel in 1961.”
5. Samuel Hayek in ‘Supporting Israel for Life’, JNF Charitable Trust, Annual Report & Accounts 2009
6. The JNF in the Negev (Naqab)
‘Shattering Israel's image of 'democracy'’, The Guardian, 3 December 2009
‘Cameron-backed charity accused of discriminating against non-Jews’, 10 June 2010
‘The Israelis keep bulldozing their village, but still the Bedouin will not give up their land’, The Guardian, 1 March 2011
‘Stop creating forests that are destroying Bedouin lives’, Amnesty International, 11 April 2011
7. The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
8. Early day motion 1677, JEWISH NATIONAL FUND, Session: 2010-11
“That this House welcomes the Stop the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Campaign launched on 30 March 2011 by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others to inform the public about the JNF - Karen Kayemet L'Yisrael, its ongoing illegal expropriation of Palestinian land, concealing of destroyed Palestinian villages beneath parks and forests, and prevention of refugees from returning to their homes; notes that the JNF's constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews; further notes that the UN rejected the JNF USA's application for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council on the ground that it violates the principles of the UN Charter on Human Rights; regrets that the Prime Ministeris a JNF honorary patron; and believes that there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF's charitable status in the UK.”
9. UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) rejects JNF (US) application for consultative status (2007)
- Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC/6267 NGO/618, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/ecosoc6267.doc.htm
- Badil resources centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights: http://www.badil.org/en/article74/item/429-the-jewish-national-fund-jnf
- CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (para19), http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/041AB84D2F05080C85257302004A9963
10. Challenge the JNF: Stop the JNF Campaign Workshops, London, 4 June 2011
11. End fund-raising in Scotland for ethnic cleansing in Palestine, 21 June 2011
Read Guardian (UK) story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/may/29/david-cameron-resigns-patron-jnf