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Twitter reveals JNF's approach toward Palestinian Bedouin

In a tweet that was later deleted, the Jewish National Fund says Bedouins in unrecognized villages are “living on someone’s land illegally.” The JNF has been taking part in evacuations of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and in foresting actions aimed at preventing the Bedouin from accessing their lands; last month, a JNF board member resigned, citing “violation of human rights” by the organization

In recent months, we have reported here on the Jewish National Fund’s role in attempts to take over Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and in the evacuations of Palestinian Bedouins from their homes in the Negev desert.

The Fund – originally established to buy lands in the early days of Zionism – is today a quasi-government agency that controls 13 percent of the land in Israel. Since the fund only sells lands to Jews, the government occasionally transfers real estate in disputed areas to the fund, so it can carry out discriminatory policies that the government is forbidden from exercising directly. Such are the cases in East Jerusalem.

In the south, the fund does foresting work on the lands of unrecognized Palestinian villages, aimed at preventing Bedouins from rebuilding their homes. Last week, the Abu al-Qian Bedouin clan protested plans to evacute them from their homes in the Yatir area in order to make room for another JNF forest.

Last Thursday, there was an interesting tweet from the JNF USA office, essentially admitting that the Fund sees the Bedouin citizens of Israel as illegal invaders in their own land:

After several followers re-tweeted this message, the tweet was deleted. A new tweet directed readers to a public statement by the fund, claiming that the Bedouin issue “is too complicated to debate in 140 [characters].”

“The issue” is in fact not that complicated. When Israel was established, it chose not to recognize Bedouin ownership of  lands that they cultivated or lived on, making them illegal residents in their own home – even in cases where those settlements predated the state itself. More than 60 years after, the state still tries to evacuate the Bedouin, while refusing to connect them to infrastructure such as electricity and water. Yet in the world of the Jewish National Fund, its not even a disputed territory: All lands belongs to Jews by default, and people – Israeli citizens! – living there are doing so “illegally.”

The Jewish National Fund is knowingly and willingly taking an active role in taking over the lands of indigenous population in different parts of Israel and the occupied territories. Lately, JNF board member Seth Morrison resigned from the organization, calling its evacuations of Palestinians in East Jerusalem a “violation of human rights.”

Rabbis for Human Rights have launched a campaign against the Jewish National Fund’s attempts to take over Palestinian homes and evacuate Bedouins from their lands. You can read more about it here.

Read also:
Protest against settler-friendly JNF expands, raises existential questions
Forced relocation of 30K Bedouin biggest dispossession since ’48

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    1. AYLA

      Jesus. No wonder it’s so hard to convince certain American Jews, one with whom I share blood, that they’re drinking from the Cool-Aid; their views are validated over and over by organizations they’ve been taught to trust. @Seth Morrison’s resignation is an example of some of the most important work happening today. It’s all important–but/and, we have to wake the sleep-walkers, and it can’t come from screaming activists–it has to come from within the system/world people trust.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Philos

      Is Israel the only state engaged in 19th Century style colonialism today? Are there other struggles we can make comparisons to that might help shed light on this conflict? I can only think of Mexico and Guatemala where there have been violent land disputes between the white and Metztizo’s with indigenous Mayans…

      Reply to Comment
    3. In a display of their contempt for and ignorance of the Bedouins, VP of Campaign for the JNF in Massachusetts talks about ‘Project Negev’ in a video on the JNF web address entitled ‘Working with Bedouin communities’ (http://www.jnf.org/work-we-do/blueprint-negev/working-with-bedouin.html), quote:

      “Project Negev… [is] our goal to bring an extra six hundred thousand Jews to the Negev in the next ten years.”

      Direct link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Z3ggWjyas&feature=player_embedded#!

      Reply to Comment
    4. Seth Morrison

      This now hidden Tweet shows the JNF’s true colors. They try to hide behind a few good projects for Bedouins while stealing land from many other Bedouin communities. The bottom line is that the JNF/KKL should not be controlling land in Israel.

      @Philos, I see Israeli mistreatment of Bedouins very similar to the US government’s mistreatment of the Native Americans over the last few hundred years. Canada provides a more positive example of working with indigenous peoples.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Sinjim

      @Seth: And one of those “good projects” is, of course, AIES. The only reason it supports this organization is so that it can distract from its thievery and racism. And the AIES willingly goes along with this charade. As Palestinian lives are being destroyed by the actions of the KKL, this is beyond unforgivable.
      All I can say is thank heavens Palestinian civil society has recognized this and has moved against this phenomenon in an organized way.

      Reply to Comment
    6. John Turnbull

      @Seth First, thanks for making the tough choice.

      Regarding Canada’s treatment of “Native Canadians,” I got a quick re-education this year from Robert Lovelace of Queen’s U. He’s a former Algonquin Chief, deeply involved in native politics in Canada. Here’s the interesting part: he was a participant, with me, in the Canada Boat to Gaza. He sees strong similarities between indigenous people here and in Palestine.

      I now understand the IP conflict in ways that I never would have without getting involved and being confronted.

      Now if you’re still sure Canada is doing the right thing, google “Attawapiskat”. We’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Seth Morrison

      @JohnTurnbull, thanks for sharing this info, sorry to hear that Canada is not as enlightened on this issue as I had heard.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Seth Morrison

      @Sinjim While I fully agree with you that many things that JNF/KKL do are terrible for Palestinians I must disagree on your characterization of the relationship with the Arava Institute.

      As I told you on a previous post, the JNF in North America is separated from the KKL in Israel. I resigned from JNF because they refused to condemn and try to stop the evictions in Silwan and Bedouin villages so I have no love for them. But I also want to be fair. JNF supports the Institute because it does good environmental education.

      Frankly they do not care what Palestinians and those of us on the far left care about JNF, they know we condemn them. Also, like any non-profit they want to bring in money for causes they support.

      To say that the Institute should be boycotted because it takes money from JNF just plays into the hands of the right wing who want Palestinians pushed to the rear and ignored. The Institute educates its students on important environmental issues and on how to live and work together towards common goals.

      Institute fundraising in the US introduces Americans to Palestinians and contributes to dialogue and mutual understanding. Anticipating your response, I admit that it won’t solve a lot of problems but it does help.

      Frankly there are far more important issues to focus on than continually attacking an Institute that is just trying to address the serious environmental problems in the Middle East.

      Reply to Comment
    9. AYLA

      @Seth–thank you. We’re all (you, me, Sinjim) broken records here, because we are all, apparently, speaking from core beliefs. Let’s not forget that ultimately, we all want the same thing. Not everyone does, but we three do.
      You are walking a very important line in this conflict, and you have a very important and influential audience in the States. Thank you. If you ever find that these comment threads deflate you, step away. In a world where jewish american conservatives (on israel) essentially shut down the two-state solution in September (however indirectly–that is what happened), we need your voice. Most of them, I really believe, just haven’t had the truth (or, more of it… nothing is absolute…) come to them in a way in which they can hear it. Same with Israelis. But the American jews of whom I speak may be opening an ear thanks to you. Keep going.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Seth Morrison

      @Ayla, you are quite right. We need to focus on changing hearts and minds in America and Israel so that we can stop mistreatment of Palestinians. We all want peace, self determination and full human rights for all.

      Thank you.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Piotr Berman

      It is also worth to remember that the grandiose project of converting the desert into a garden and home of hundreds of thousands is associated with pumping water across huge distances and environmental destruction. River Jordan and Dead Sea will be gone.

      Reply to Comment