The Jewish National Fund – Zionism’s Primary Apartheid Organisation
The Jewish National Fund – Zionism’s Primary Apartheid Organisation
The Jewish National Fund is a prime example of how Apartheid in Israel operates. Unlike South Africa there are no ‘Jews only’ signs. Apartheid in Israel works differently. Towns like Kiryat Shmona in the Galilee are Jewish only and Arabs are physically prevented from entering (unless it’s for work) but there are no signs saying this.
It is therefore surprising that of all the Israeli organisations with which to lend their name to, British Prime Ministers beginning with war criminal Tony Blair, duffer Brown and now Eton’s very own David Cameron are ‘patron’s of the JNF and Israeli Apartheid.
That is why, originating in the Boycott Israel Network, a letter with 50 signatories was drawn up urging Ed Miliband, brother of torture supporter David, not to become a patron of this Jewish-only charity. When Miliband chose not to respond it was decided that the next step would be to have the letter published nationally. We therefore sent the letter to The Guardian, which published it on 7th October.
Now a funny thing happened. Usually when you criticise Israel you have legions of spotty Zionists descend upon you shouting ‘anti-Semite’ – eager to refute what you say with whatever lies and hasbara that come to hand. Yet strangely there was nothing, at least nothing until 16th October when the Chair of the JNF in Britain Samuel Hayek finally responded.
It is difficult to think of a weaker letter. Apparently our letter was ‘misconceived in its approach and inaccurate in its content.’ No specifics of course.
Apparently ‘since its creation, JNF’s focus has been on developing and sustaining the environment in Israel…. Our current focus on the Negev region clearly reflects these aims. To accuse the JNF of being “actively complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians” represents a distortion of the truth on the grandest of scales. Our environmental and humanitarian work is not based on any political or religious affiliation, but rather on supporting Israel and its population – whatever their background. This was the case before the modern state of Israel was created and will continue to be the case long into the future.’
Virtually every other word contained a lie within it. Just the name itself ‘Jewish’ not ‘Islamic’ or ‘Christian’ National Fund betrays its purpose. But the facts are even more damning. Hence this was a golden opportunity to shine a light under the Zionist stone and see what crawls out.
I therefore replied to Hayek and on 19th October not one but two letters were published, from myself and Dr Barry Stierer, also of Brighton PSC!
Has Hayek responded? Well if he has it’s not been printed. It is almost certain that Hayek and his compatriots have decided that discretion is the better part of valour. They don’t wish to have the JNF discussed in the media because the facts are so damning. Instead the increasingly manic Jewish Chronicle took up the cudgels.
In a particularly stupid article of 20th October, Jennifer Lipman stated that ‘Mr Greenstein, a long-time anti-Zionist, implied in a letter to the Guardian newspaper that JNF UK’s chairman Samuel Hayek had been lying for his country.’ Duh! No I made it quite clear that he was lying, not on behalf of his country but another country! Lipman clearly didn’t understand the import of the comparison with a diplomat. It had nothing to do with representing one’s country. Rather that whereas diplomats are at least paid to lie for their country, what was Hayek’s excuse?
My letter ended with a simple question that no Zionist has yet managed to answer. What if a British National Fund were to do in Britain was the JNF does in Israel? What is the BNF were to only lease land to non-Jews or Christians? Would that be anti-semitic? Well it’s a no brainer and even Zionists like Jonathan Hoffman of no brain understand very well that the only answer can be ‘yes’.
The facts are extremely clear but I am going to lay them out for activists so that they are at peoples’ fingertips.
Why the Jewish National Fund is as Racist Organisation
The Jewish National Fund is an organisation which was founded in 1901. It has been one of the key organisations of Zionist colonisation in Israel. It originally purchased land from primarily absentee landlords for Jewish settlements. After 1948 it took control, at bargain basement prices (there is no evidence that any money actually changed hands) of 2 million dunums of confiscated Arab land, doubling its land holding from 1 million which it had bought pre-1948 to over 3 million dunums.
In 1901 a Resolution to establish the JNF established it as “a trust for the Jewish people, which… can be used exclusively for the purchase of land in Palestine and Syria.” Ironically Herzl had opposed the formation of the JNF when it was first raised at the second Zionist Congress in 1898. He feared it would undermine his efforts to establish the Jewish Colonial Trust, a bank to finance the Zionist movement.
Herzl also feared that the JNF would end up subsidising the existing Hovvei Zion (Lovers of Zion) settlements which Herzl deprecated. Although Hovvei Zion, established by Leo Pinsker in 1882, was a Zionist supporting group, its settlements in Palestine – Rishon le Zion and Petah Tiqva – financed by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, who was not a Zionist, rapidly turned into classic colonial settlements whereby the settlers sat back and allowed the Arabs to do the work.
This was anathema to the Zionists. Such settlements would create a class of effendi Zionists who sooner or later would be ousted by an incipient national movement. Jews must do the work as well as own the settlement. Hence why the Zionist Kibbutz was born – it was the only such institution that could ensure that the settlers worked the land which had been ‘redeemed’ from the Palestinians.
In 1903 slightly modified proposals were adopted by the Zionist Congress and the JNF was authorized “to build on or to have cultivated or also to lease (subleasing being prohibited) the purchased land to Jews”; this meant that the JNF “could either itself develop the land or lease it, but only to Jews.”
In April 1907 the JNF was incorporated in England as the Juedischer National-fonds (Keren Kajemeth Le Jisroel) Limited. According to the Memorandum of Association, the “primary object” for which the JNF was organized was “to purchase, take on lease or in exchange, or otherwise acquire any lands, forests, rights of possession and other rights, easements and other immovable property in the prescribed region (which expression shall in this Memorandum mean Palestine, Syria, any other parts of Turkey in Asia and the Peninsula of Sinai) or any part thereof, for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands.” [Clause 3(1)]
In 1953 the Knesset passed the Jewish National Fund Law which made the JNF into an arm of Israeli Government land policies. It was official a non-governmental organisation but in reality was accountable to and implemented the policies of the Israeli state. But because it was nominally a private Zionist organisation, the Israeli government could deny responsibility for its practices. The JNF law followed the passing of the World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency (Status) Law of 1952. The WZO/Jewish Agency owned and controlled the JNF so one can see the spider’s web of deception which was instituted to allow the Israeli government to deny it practiced racist land discrimination. It simply contracted it out to the WZO and JNF, for which it could then deny responsibility, even though in practice it controlled the latter.
New Memorandum and Articles of Association were submitted and approved on May 20, 1954, under which the new Israeli JNF Company acquired all the assets, liabilities, etc. of the JNF, incorporated in England in 1907. The “primary object of the Association” was now “to purchase, acquire on lease or in exchange, or receive on lease or otherwise, lands, forests, rights of possession, easements and any similar rights as well as immovable properties of any class, in the prescribed region (which expression shall in this Memorandum mean the State of Israel in any area within the jurisdiction of the Government of Israel) or in any part thereof, for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties” (Clause 3, Sub- clause a).
Once again the JNF’s constitution, which is what a Memorandum of Association is, made clear that the JNF’s activities was for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties. And because some settlements, Kibbutzim and the individualistic Moshavim, were now becoming like colonials of old and sub-leasing their JNF land, in 1967 the Knesset passed the Agricultural Settlement Law which probibited the sub-leasing of land to non-Jews on pain of a fine. In other words it is a criminal offence to lease JNF lands in Israel to non-Jews.
The JNF was the primary means of allocating the land of the expelled Palestinians. It’s Director and member of Ben Gurion’s Transfer Committee, Josef Weitz, made the intentions of the JNF crystal clear in 1940. Note the date. Eight years before the establishment of the Israel state. This in itself gives the lie to those like Benny Morris who say that the expulsion and flight of the Palestinians was a cause of the war of 1948, the invasion of the Arab armies etc. Its reasons were simple. To create a Jewish state in a state where even in 1948 the majority of inhabitants of the Jewish allocated area were non-Jewish was unacceptable. On December 20, 1940 Weitz wrote in his Diaries that:
“it must be clear that there is no room in the country for both [Arab and Jewish] peoples . . . If the [Palestinian] Arabs leave it, the country will become wide and spacious for us . . . The only solution [after the end of WW II] is a Land of Israel, at least a western land of Israel [i.e. Palestine since Transjordan is the eastern portion], without [Palestinian] Arabs. There is no room here for compromises . . . There is no way but to transfer the [Palestinian] Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer all of them, save perhaps for [the Palestinian Arabs of] Bethlehem, Nazareth, and the old Jerusalem. Not one village must be left, not one [Bedouin] tribe. The transfer must be directed at Iraq, Syria, and even Transjordan [eastern portion of Eretz Yisrael]. For this goal funds will be found . . . An only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb millions of our brothers and the Jewish problem will cease to exist. There is no other solution.” (Benny Morris, p. 27 & Expulsion Of The Palestinians, 131-132, also cited in the now defunct Davar, paper of the Histadrut of 29.9.67).
From its very beginnings, the JNF was dedicated to the ‘redeeming’ the land of Palestine for Jews and Jews only. Before 1948 it might just have been termed a quaint colonial outgrowth, a chauvinist but semi-private organisation. After the declaration of Israel as a Jewish State in 1948 its racist character was in no doubt.
In November 1961 the JNF and the Israeli government signed a Covenant clarifying the relationship of the JNF to the state and spelling out their respective powers and responsibilities. Under this Covenant, based on legislation enacted by the Knesset in July 1960, two bodies were set up, the Land Development Assocation and the Israeli Lands Administration. In 1960 a series of Acts of the Knesset were passed defining the parameters of the joint work of the ILA and JNF, – The Basic Law: Israel Lands (July 19, 1960), Israel Lands Law, (July 25, 1960), and Israel Lands Administration Law (July 25, 1960), op. cit., pp. 85-94.
Title to the land purchased by the JNF was to be held in perpetuity, “as the inalienable property of the Jewish people,” [Article 3, Constitution of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, adopted August 1929; quoted in John Hope Simpson, Palestine: Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development (Cmd. 3686; London, 1930].
Article 3 also stated that: “The Agency shall promote agricultural colonization based on Jewish labour, and in all works or undertakings carried out or furthered by the Agency, it shall be deemed to be a matter of principle that Jewish labour shall be employed….” The Jewish Agency, the Palestine wing of the (World) Zionist Organisation, was established in 1929 by the Sixteenth Zionist Congress in Zurich to draw support from Zionists and non-Zionists. The latter was always a fiction. In practice they were often Zionists who suffered from sea-sickness and the Zionist Organisation and Histadrut continued to control it in practice.
All of the terms of a Lease Agreement, including the lessee’s rights, were subject to one over- riding condition: the lessee must be Jewish. Accordingly, the land could not be leased to a non-Jew, nor could the lease be subleased, or sold, or mortgaged, or given, or bequeathed to any but a Jew. Non-Jews could not be employed on the land or even in any work connected with the cuLltivation of the land. Violation of this term of the lease rendered the lessee liable for damages to the lessor, and the third violation gave the lessor the right to abrogate the lease without any compensation to the lessee.
For example the JNF lease, article 23, states inter alia: “The lessee undertakes to execute all works connected with the cultivation of the holding only with Jewish labour. Failure to comply with this duty by the employment of non-Jewish labour shall render the lessee liable to the payment of a compensation of ten Palestinian pounds for each default. The fact of the employment of non-Jewish labour shall constitute adequate proof as to the damages and amount thereof, and the right of the Fund to be paid the compensation referred to, and it shall not be necessarv to serve on the lessee any notarial or other notice. Where the lessee has contravened the provisions of this Article three times the Fund may apply the right of restitution of the holding, without paying any compensation whatever.” Quoted in the Report of Sir John Hope Simpson p. 53, published in August 1930.
Among the conclusions in this Report, held as a result of the 1929 riots in Palestine and consequent on a recommendation of the 1929 Shaw Commission into those riots, the terms under which the JNF purchased and leased land were described as “objectionable,” and it was recommended that they “should be radically altered” (p. 142)
As Uri Avneri, an ex-member of the Knesset, founder of Haolem Hazeh and Gush Shalom:
“Hebrew Labour meant, necessarily, No Arab Labour. The ‘redemption of the land’ often meant, necessarily, ‘redeeming’ it from the Arab fellahin who happened to be living in it. A Jewish plantation owner who employed Arabs in his orange grove was a traitor to the cause, a despicable reactionary who not only deprived a Jewish worker of work, but even more important, deprived the country of a Jewish worker. His grove had to be picketed, the Arabs had to be evicted by force. Bloodshed, if necessary, was justified.” He further notes that Arab tenants “were simply evicted when the land was redeemed by the Jewish National Fund in order to set up a kibbutz.” Israel Without Zionists: A Plea for Peace in the Middle East (New York: Macmillan, 1968), p. 85.
This article cites extensively from the classic article by Walter Lehn, The Jewish National Fund, published in the Journal of Palestinian Studies Vol. 3, No. 4, Summer 1974, p.80).
See also ‘Is the JNF racist?’ by Shahar Ilan in Haaretz 25th July 2007 which shows how even the ‘left’ and ‘marxist’ Zionist Mapam, which was the second strongest party in Israel but has now almost disappeared, was equally a party to the co-opting of the JNF as an the executive arms of Israeli policy.
Here is an embarrassing fact: In 1957, when the Knesset passed the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Law, one of the great leaders of Mapam (the United Workers Party), Yaakov Hazan, said: “The JNF lands, which were purchased with the money of the Jewish people, are sacred for Jewish settlement, just as the Muslim waqf [land held in religious trust] is sacred to the Muslim community.”
Now, Hazan’s ideological successor, Haim Oron (Meretz), argues that the bill seeking to designate JNF lands for Jews only is racist. Oron explained that “only a fossilized movement doesn’t change its mind over the years.” Yet one cannot help but wonder how what was sacred turned into racism.
Article 3A of the JNF’s articles of incorporation states that one of its goals is to purchase and lease lands on which to settle Jews. The JNF bill, which passed its preliminary reading last week, requires the state to manage JNF lands in keeping with this principle. The bill, by the way, is not intended to circumvent a High Court of Justice ruling; its goal is to preempt a ruling on a petition now before the High Court. In other words, it is a preemptive bypass of the High Court.
The immediate reason for the bill was Attorney General Menachem Mazuz’s opinion that the lease of JNF lands to non-Jews should be permitted. Thus for now, this is a bill to bypass Mazuz. The Knesset presidium has the authority to bar racist laws from the floor. But the Knesset’s legal adviser, Nurit Elstein, ruled that “only bills whose essentially racist nature cries out to heaven and shakes the very foundations” should be barred. Elstein felt that the JNF bill does not cry out to heaven. But is it silently racist?
Law professor Amnon Rubinstein of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center chose not to deal with this question in a letter he sent to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann. However, he did write that the bill “contradicts the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty and harms the basic values of the State of Israel.” In other words, it might be overturned by the High Court. He also wrote that the bill “will cause great damage to our reputation and will serve the campaign of boycotts and ostracism that is being waged against us by haters of Israel.”
There is certainly room to ask what reputation Rubinstein is talking about. Haim Sandberg, a doctor of jurisprudence at the College of Management, is about to publish a book entitled “Israel’s Lands, Zionism and Post-Zionism.” Sandberg does not understand how it can be argued that using land purchased for Jews in order to settle Jews is racist. “There is no reason not to designate JNF land, or most of it, for Jews,” he said.
The chairman of the National Union-National Religious Party, MK Uriel Ariel, said: “Generations of Jews collected their pennies to bring to fruition the Zionist enterprise of redeeming the land, in the clear and certain knowledge that the money would be used for Jews.” The problem with this argument is that the state transferred to the JNF about a million dunams (approximately 247,000 acres) of land belonging to absentee owners. It could very well be that to designate JNF land for Jews only, this one million dunams would have to be restored to the state.
The chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK Menachem Ben-Sasson (Kadima), is not prepared to say whether he believes the bill is racist or constitutional. He would only say that “in principle, I want to discuss it, and I am not prepared to be told at the outset that I can’t.”
Quite how Samuel Hayek can proclaim in the Guardian, and keep a straight face, that the JNF ‘is not based on any political or religious affiliation, but rather on supporting Israel and its population – whatever their background.’ without his nose becoming extended is a matter of some curiosity. Clearly Pinnochio had nothing on him!
As the JNF’s own web page said of the visit of Avigdor Lieberman to Britain: ‘KKL-JNF UK board members lead by the KKL-JNF UK Chairman, Samuel Hayek and Dubi Bergman, Head of Delegation, took active part in all Lieberman’s meetings and events. The visit made an important mark on the Jewish life in the UK and succeeded in raising KKL-JNF’s profile in the Anglo-Jewish community.’