Bombs Over Damascus: Has israel (apartheid state) Crossed a Russian Red Line in Syria?

Bombs Over Damascus: Has Israel Crossed a Russian Red Line in Syria?

Friday, citing Russian sources the Palestinian-run, London-based, pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that Russia has told Israel it will not tolerate further air strikes near the Damascus International Airport:

According to the report, which cited Russian sources, Moscow has told Jerusalem that it intends to renovate the Damascus International Airport, and that further attacks by Israel will not be welcomed.

The Russians say that the air strikes are causing airlines from the region that want to resume operations in Syria to reconsider their decision.

However, instead of this bringing calm, Israel instead launched a yet another series of attack around Damascus and against its main airport:

For two days in a row, Israel Defence Forces have been carrying out strikes on what the IDF claims are Iranian targets in Syria.

The Russian military has announced that tSyrian air defences had destroyed over 30 cruise missiles and guided bombs, when repelling an Israeli strike.

According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the Israeli strike killed four Syrian servicemen and injured 6 others. In addition to this, the air raid has “partially damaged the infrastructure of the Damascus international airport”, the statement says.

The announcement comes shortly after the IDF press service announced that Israel had targeted alleged “military facilities of [Iranian unit] Quds Force in Syria, including weapons depots, mainly in the area of Damascus International Airport, Iranian intelligence center, Iranian training camp” in response to a missile strike in disputed Golan Heights. According to the IDF, during the raid, dozens of Syrian anti-aircraft missiles were fired, despite an unequivocal warning not to allow open fire.

Following earlier Syrian TV reports after Damascus had been rocked by powerful blasts, a Syrian military source told Sputnik that Syria’s air defences were able to shoot down a significant part of Israeli guided missiles.

So there are two possibilities. Perhaps Al-Quds, misunderstood its sources or just plain made up the story, or else the Israelis intentionally launched a second series of strikes just to show they will not respect any Russian red lines
Advertisements

israel (apartheid state) to Shut Down UNRWA Schools in East Jerusalem without Notification

Israel to Shut Down UNRWA Schools in East Jerusalem without Notification

UNRWA has been helping Palestinian refugees since 1949. (Photo: via Facebook)

Israeli authorities are set to shut down schools in occupied East Jerusalem run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) as of next year.

The move would come as the latest strike against UNRWA, which suffered a financial crisis in 2018 due to the United States ending all its financial funds to the agency, in addition to Israel increasingly restricting its activities in East Jerusalem.

 

Israel’s National Security Council decided during a meeting last month, to revoke permits allowing UNRWA schools in East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood to operate, starting as of next year.

The decision would replace UNRWA schools with schools run by the Jerusalem Municipality, using curriculum by the Israeli Education Ministry.

 

According to UNRWA, the agency runs seven schools in two refugee camps that are located within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, which serve about 3,000 students enrolled.

UNRWA spokesperson, Sami Meshasha, said in a statement that the Agency has not received any official notice from Israeli authorities regarding the reports after Israeli media reported that Israeli officials are set to revoke permits for UNRWA-run schools in East Jerusalem as of next year.

Meshasha said,

“UNRWA’s existence in Jerusalem is not a gift from Israel.”

 

He added,

“There are bilateral agreements binding on Israel to respect the Agency’s installations, jurisdiction and immunity in Jerusalem. In addition, Israel is a party to the 1946 Refugee Convention, and such attempts are in violation of this Convention.”

According to UNRWA, the agency runs seven schools in two refugee camps that are located within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, which serve about 3,000 students enrolled.

 

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said that Israel’s decision to shut down UNRWA schools in East Jerusalem,

“Aims at ethnically cleansing the Palestinian citizens living in Shufat refugee camp.”

UNRWA currently provides services to some 5 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the occupied Palestinian territories, and the besieged Gaza Strip.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

OCHA: 10% increase in israeli (apartheid state) demolition of Palestinian structures in 2018

OSCHA: 10% increase in Israeli demolition of Palestinian structures in 2018

Ma’an – January 20, 2019

BETHLEHEM – During 2018, Israel demolished or seized 460 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, a 10% increase compared to 2017, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory confirmed in a new report.

The OCHA report stated, “While in Area C, which makes over 60% of the area of the West Bank that is under full Israeli military control, the number of structures targeted in both years was approximately the same and stood at 270, occupied East Jerusalem recorded a 25% increase compared to 2017. Of all structures targeted during 2018, 56 were donor-funded humanitarian aid structures, representing a 46% decline, compared to 2017 figures.”

In December, said OCHA’s monthly report on West Bank demolitions and displacement, “39 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized by the Israeli authorities, the same as the 2018 monthly average, displacing 56 people and affecting over 270 others.”

OCHA added that two of this month’s demolitions were on punitive grounds and the rest were due to the lack of the difficult-to-obtain Israeli building permits.

The report confirmed that “about 70% of the structures targeted this month were in Area C. The largest incident took place on December 4th in the Beit Hanina – al-Marwaha neighborhood, a community on the ‘Jerusalem side’ of the wall barrier, where eight commercial structures were demolished and goods were confiscated.”

“Five families, who reported a financial loss of almost 1.5 million Israeli shekels (. $400,000), were affected. In another incident, the livelihoods of 70 people were affected by the demolition of a leather store on the margins of al-Bireh City near the Ramallah district.”

On December 5th, the Israeli authorities dismantled and seized two structures in the Hebron district to be used as a school for 45 students. Three tents erected subsequently by the Palestinian Ministry of Education to replace the targeted structures were also seized.

OCHA mentioned that this is the seventh case during 2018 where educational structures were targeted under the pretext of “lack of building permits.” It is estimated that 50 West Bank schools, 42 in Area C and eight in East Jerusalem, have pending demolition orders against all or part of their facilities, according to the Education Cluster.

“In East Jerusalem, nine structures were targeted during December, nearly half the monthly average during the rest of 2018.”

“In one incident, Palestinians were forced to demolish a 20 year-old building home to two families, comprising 14 people. The families reported that since the start of the legal proceedings, they have paid the municipality 160,000 shekels ($43,382) in fines, in addition to 25,000 shekels ($6,778) they spent on the demolition itself.”

“During the month, the Israeli military carried out two punitive demolitions, bringing the total in 2018 to six, compared to nine in 2017.”

In addition, the report mentioned that in al-Amari refugee camp in the Ramallah district, Israeli forces blew up and destroyed a four-story building and severely damaged two adjacent buildings, displacing 23 people, including six children. The targeted building was home to the family of a man who reportedly killed an Israeli soldier with a brick during a search operation in the camp in May 2018.

Who gets to vote in israel’s (apartheid state) version of democracy?

Who gets to vote in Israel’s democracy

Michael Omer-Man

Israel is about to hold elections, but not everyone living under Israeli rule gets to vote. A breakdown of who has rights and who doesn’t.

Archive photo of a Palestinian citizen of Israel casting a ballot in Abu Gosh, a village outside of Jerusalem, February 10, 2009. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Archive photo of a Palestinian citizen of Israel casting a ballot in Abu Gosh, a village outside of Jerusalem, February 10, 2009. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

On April 9, 2019, Israel will hold general elections. Israelis will head to the polls to choose their elected leaders and representatives. If they are unhappy with the way things are going, like citizens of democracies around the world, their votes will help shape the ideological and political direction of the government and the institutions it controls.

In a vacuum, that sounds like fairly standard democratic practice. But there is nothing standard about Israel’s democracy.

Israeli citizens get to vote in Israeli elections, choosing elected leaders and how they rule the country. But the Israeli government doesn’t just rule over Israeli citizens, or just over Israel, for that matter.

Nearly 14 million people live under Israeli rule. The extent of that control varies, as does the ability of those 14 million people to exercise control over the policies, personalities, and institutions that determine so much about their day-to-day lives.

At the end of 2018, the population of Israel was approximately 8,972,000 people. That includes more than 330,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who do not have Israeli citizenship and thus do not have the right to vote in national elections. It also includes more than 214,000 Jewish Israeli citizens who live in occupied East Jerusalem and more than 435,000 Jewish Israelis who live in the occupied West Bank

Then there is the West Bank, which has been governed undemocratically by the Israeli military since it occupied the territory in 1967. Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed again and again, the Israel will not give up military control over the West Bank — ever.

In that territory, over which Israel plans to rule in perpetuity, live more than 2,623,000 Palestinians — over 2,953,000 including East Jerusalem Palestinians — who do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections. In the West Bank, Israel and its army are responsible for everything from road infrastructure, deciding who may live where, who may build where and what, who is allowed to move between different parts of the territory and when, who is allowed in and out of the West Bank, who is allowed to hold a political protest (only Jews), what the laws are and how they are enforced, and whether they will ever be granted independence.

Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers arrest a Palestinian woman after she allegedly tried to cross a checkpoint with a knife, Hebron, West Bank, on September 27, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers arrest a Palestinian woman after she allegedly tried to cross a checkpoint with a knife, Hebron, West Bank, on September 27, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The 435,000 Jewish Israelis who live in the West Bank have the right to vote in elections that can determine every one of those policies. They have elected representatives who can work to rectify any grievances they might have regarding how those policies affect their lives. The 2,623,000 Palestinians living in the same territory do not have the right to vote in elections that determine any of those policies. When their lives are negatively affected by the democratic country that rules over so many aspects of their lives, they have zero recourse within that democratic system to address their grievances.

Then there is the Gaza Strip. Despite having withdrawn its troops from inside the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel and its military still control a great number of significant aspects of life in the strip and the way it is governed. Israel determines what may be imported and exported; who can come in and out of the territory; and who can travel between the West Bank and Gaza. It has unilaterally claimed a buffer zone of farmland inside Gazan territory and enforces who may enter it; it determines and enforces limits to where Palestinian fishermen can fish; it controls the flow of electricity; and even had to give its permission for cash from a third country to be brought into Gaza to pay civil servants’ salaries.

None of the 1,961,000 people living in Gaza get to vote in the democratic elections that could affect those policies, including how much violence Israel uses against them.

Palestinians participate in the Great Return March near the Gaza-Israel fence, east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, November 30, 2018. (Abdel Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinians participate in the Great Return March near the Gaza-Israel fence, east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, November 30, 2018. (Abdel Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

So when Israel goes to vote this April, when everyone is talking about democracy, remember that out of the more-than 13,556,000 people whose lives are directly affected by Israeli policy, only 8,642,000, or around 64 percent of them have the right to participate in that democracy.

In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Israel exercises absolute and direct control on a daily basis, 650,000 Jewish settlers can vote while 2,953,000 Palestinians in the exact same territory cannot. Put differently, of the 3,603,000 people living in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, only 18 percent, or fewer than one in five can vote in the elections that affect almost every aspect of their lives.

And of the 6,463,000 Palestinians living under varying degrees of Israeli rule in territory fully or partially controlled by Israel, only 1,548,000 — 24 percent, or fewer than one in four — have the right to vote in Israeli elections.

Some statistical notes: Aside from the numbers of Jews and Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem, which are from the end of 2016, and therefore can be assumed to be lower than the actual figures, all of the numbers given are official end-of-2018 projections published by the Palestinian Census Bureau and the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, respectively. Both agencies include Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem in their figures, so the aggregate numbers were adjusted accordingly in order to not double count. Lastly, the figures do not refer only to the population of voting age, but the entire population, and therefore does not technically refer to voter eligibility in the current election but rather to whether someone will ever have the right to vote under the current regime’s rules of suffrage. In addition, there is a small number of East Jerusalem Palestinians who have acquired Israeli citizenship over the years, in addition to a small number of Palestinian citizens of Israel who have moved to West and East Jerusalem

War on #BDS: How AIPAC-israel (apartheid state) agenda became US priority

War on BDS: How AIPAC-Israel agenda became US priority

Source: Middle East Monitor

The Israeli-US war declared on the Palestinian boycott movement is coming to a head, culminating in a well-orchestrated effort aimed at suffocating any form of tangible protest of the ongoing Israeli colonization of Palestine.

But an Israeli ‘victory’, even with blind US government support, is still too elusive if at all guaranteed. Killing unarmed protesters at the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel is often whitewashed as Israel ‘defending itself’. However, legislating unconstitutional laws against the rights of ordinary people to boycott a state that practices war crimes might not be an easy endeavor.

The fact that 26 US states have already passed legislation or some form of condemnation of the civil act of boycott, as championed in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) should, in fact, raise more awareness of the iniquitous Israeli influence on the United States, rather than actually thwarting BDS.

The US Senate first bill of 2019 (S.B.1) titled: “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019” called on state and local governments to withhold contracts from any individual or business entity that boycotts Israel.

The bill was defeated, which is a promising sign. However, it must be noted as profound, if not altogether outrageous, that a country that is subsisting in a government shutdown and political crisis would find it both compelling and necessary to push for such a law in defense of a foreign country.

The bill will reappear again, of course. Alas, Americans should now get used to the idea that Israel’s priorities, however skewed and irrational in defense of its illegal military occupation of Palestine, will become the main rally cry for the US government for years to come.

While such a notion has proved true in the past, never before did ordinary Americans find themselves the main target in the political agenda of the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Even the mere protest of this agenda is being shunned. Iconic US civil rights activist, Angela Davis, 74, deservingly celebrated for her contribution to American society for decades, was denied an award by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute because of her defense of Palestinians and support of BDS.

This witch-hunt, which has now reached the most admired intellectuals of American society is affecting ordinary citizens everywhere as well, which is an alarming development in Israel’s unchecked power in the United States.

But how did Israel and its supporters acquire such disproportionate influence over the US government and society as a whole?

In short, the Lobby.

Cheered on by American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other pro-Israel lobbies, the US Congress is now leading the Israeli war on Palestinians and their supporters. In the process, they are attempting to demolish the very core of American democratic values.

The build-up to this particular battle, which will certainly be accentuated in 2019, began when AIPAC declared in its “2017 Lobbying Agenda” (PDF) that criminalizing the boycott of Israel is a top priority.

Cuomo  | BDS | Israel

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs a first-in-the-nation Executive Order directing the divestment of public funds supporting BDS against Israel. Kevin P. Coughlin | Office of Governor Cuomo

The US Congress, which has historically proven subservient to the Israeli government and its lobbies, enthusiastically embraced AIPAC’s efforts. This resulted in the Senate Bill S.720, also known as the “Anti-Israel Boycott Act”, which aimed to ban the boycott of Israel and its illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

The bill almost immediately gained the support of 48 Senators and 234 House members. Unsurprisingly, it was drafted mostly by AIPAC itself.

Punishment for those who violate the proposed law ranged from $250,000 to $1 million and 10 years imprisonment.

Anti-Palestinian measures in the US are nothing new. In fact, ardent support for Israel and the complete disregard for Palestinians is the only aspect which Democrats and Republicans have in common. It will remain to be seen if the inclusion of progressive and Muslim women in this current House lineup will change or at least challenge that reality.

For now, the sad truth is that the very individuals who were meant to guard the Constitution are the ones openly violating it. The First Amendment to the US Constitution has been the pillar in defense of the people’s right to free speech, freedom of the press, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

This right has, however, often been curtailed when it applies to Israel. The Center for Constitutional Rights refers to this fact as “The Palestine Exception“.

Dire as it may seem, there is something positive in this. For many years, it has been wrongly perceived that Israel’s solicitation of American support against Palestinians and Arabs is by no means a foreign country meddling or interfering in the US political system or undermining US democracy.

However, the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” is the most egregious of such interventions, for it strikes down the First Amendment, the very foundation of American democracy, by using America’s own legislators as its executors.

But none of this will succeed because simply put, noble ideas cannot be defeated.

Moreover, for Israel, this is a new kind of battle, one which it is foolishly attempting to fight using the traditional tactics of threats and intimidation and backed by blind US support.

The more the lobby tries to defeat BDS the more it exposes itself and its stranglehold on the American government and media.

Israel is no student of history. It has learned nothing from the experience of the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. It is no surprise that Israel remained the last supporter of the Apartheid regime in that country before it fell.

For true champions of human rights, regardless of their race, religion or citizenship, this is their moment as no meaningful change ever occurs without people being united in struggle and sacrifice.

Top Photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the 2018 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, at Washington Convention Center, March 6, 2018, in Washington. Jose Luis Magana | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is http://www.ramzybaroud.net.

UN says israeli (apartheid state) government-backed groups ‘delegitimizing’ human rights NGOs

UN says Israeli government-backed groups ‘delegitimizing’ human rights NGOs
Israeli forces intervene in Palestinians with plastic bullets during a protest after Israeli forces made raid on houses and shops in Ramallah, West Bank on January 7, 2019. ( Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency )

A United Nations agency has stated humanitarian operations in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are being “undermined by delegitimization, access restrictions, and administrative constraints”.

According to UN OCHA, “attempts to delegitimize humanitarian and human rights organizations operating in the oPt, particularly NGOs, have been on the rise in recent years”.

This has had “a negative impact on the ability of these organisations to deliver assistance and advocate on behalf of Palestinian rights”, the agency added.

The situation is “further compounded by longstanding access restrictions imposed on humanitarian staff and operations, restrictive legislation and attacks on human rights defenders”, UN OCHA said.

UN OCHA believes that “the bulk of the delegitimization attempts have been advanced by a network of Israeli civil society groups and some associated organizations elsewhere, with the apparent support of the Israeli government”.

READ: Humanitarian aid is overtly politicised, just not in favour of the Palestinians 

“Targeted defamation and smear campaigns allege violations of counter-terrorism legislation and international law, or political action against Israel”, the statement continued.

According to UN OCHA, “most of these allegations are baseless or misrepresent and distort critical factual or legal elements”.

“Humanitarian organizations operating in the oPt adhere strictly to the principles of neutrality, impartiality, independence and humanity, and implement rigorous UN, donor and internal standards to ensure compliance with these principles, and all relevant bodies of law. Donor governments additionally impose guidelines that reflect political sensitivities in the oPt context”.

The “accusations being made against humanitarian organizations operating in the oPt have resulted in a range of negative impacts”, the agency elaborated, including “the allocation of time and resources to address allegations; some donors defunding certain activities to avoid risks; impediments by Israeli banks to the transferring of funds and procedures to close down accounts; refusal of Israeli venues to host events involving certain NGOs; and the potential undermining of information disseminated by organizations whose reputation has been damaged”.

Canada: Jewish National Fund under investigation for funding israel’s (apartheid state) crimes

Canada: Jewish National Fund under investigation for funding Israel’s crimes

Nora Barrows-Friedman
The Electronic Inifada

Canada Park

© Bukvoed
JNF Canada turned the land of three demolished Palestinian villages into a recreational area, Canada Park, with an adjacent settlement for Jews only
Pressured by human rights activists and a Palestinian refugee, the Canada Revenue Agency has begun an investigation into the Jewish National Fund of Canada over its use of charitable donations to build projects for the Israeli military and illegal settlements.

Uses of charitable donations to fund foreign militaries contravenes Canadian law.

JNF Canada’s parent organization, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), predates the establishment of Israel and uses tree-planting as a cover to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their land.

After Israel’s establishment in 1948, the JNF took control of most of the land which had been confiscated from Palestinian refugees. In the 1950s, the JNF became a quasi-state organization, with a policy to lease land only to Jews on an openly discriminatory basis.

Documents show that the JNF has repeatedly used JNF Canada as a conduit to collect funds for its illegal projects, activists say. JNF Canada recently told public broadcaster CBC that it stopped funneling money to the Israeli military in 2016. However, acting as a conduit for its parent organization, funds continue to flow into projects connected to the Israeli military.

And the JNF remains involved in decades-old activities of land theft and expulsion of Palestinians, actions which also violate international law.

In addition to the formal complaint, activists have initiated a petition through parliament calling for JNF Canada’s charitable status to be revoked. It will be presented to parliament and the government will have to respond.

History of expulsion

The audit was launched following an October 2017 complaint filed by four human rights defenders with help from Independent Jewish Voices Canada, an activist group that has mobilized against the JNF Canada for years.

Amongst the complainants is Ismail Zayid, a retired physician now in his eighties who was expelled from his village, Beit Nuba, by Israeli forces during the 1967 War.

During the war, Israel demolished Zayid’s village along with the nearby villages of Imwas and Yalu, and seized the land. JNF Canada then turned the land into a recreational area, Canada Park, with an adjacent settlement for Jews only. Canada Park is inside the occupied West Bank, a fact recognized by the Canadian government.

Like millions of exiled Palestinians, Zayid and his family are barred from returning to their land simply because they are not Jewish.

Zayid began filing complaints with the Canadian government in the 1970s to demand action against the JNF for its role in the systematic expulsion, destruction and demolition of the villages, but told The Electronic Intifada that Canada has failed to hold the charity accountable for any of its illegal actions.

Charging JNF Canada with complicity in Israel’s land-theft policies dating back decades, the complaint explains that when the Israeli military demolishes Palestinian homes and agricultural land, the JNF – as it did with Canada Park – will “then come in and plant rows of trees to stake a claim on that land.” The JNF plants trees “further and further past where the internationally recognized boundaries are,” the complaint adds.

“To me, it’s extremely painful to see that the country that I came to with hope – Canada, as a liberal society that supports international law and human rights – would act differently on this issue,” Zayid told The Electronic Intifada from his home in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“It’s not only the material loss of my home and my village and my property, but it’s the excruciating pain of the loss of my hope and my dreams,” he added.

Israeli military projects continue

JNF Canada has boasted of its missions to help with settlements and infrastructure for the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank.

It “contributed directly to the construction of at least one hilltop settler outpost that was declared illegal” by Israel itself, according to the CBC.

In 2014, JNF Canada’s Young Leadership Solidarity Mission helped build a house for the security guard at the Givat Oz VeGaon outpost, a colony led by extremist right-wing settlers who work for Jewish colonization and applying Israeli “sovereignty” over the occupied West Bank.

That outpost “received and ignored at least 18 demolition orders” from the Israeli government, CBC adds.

The Canadian branch of the charity has also sponsored the JNF’s projects for the Israeli army’s benefit, including road building and construction on air force bases.

In 2011, JNF Canada helped plant trees along the Gaza boundary to “not only block the vision of terrorists firing into Israel but [also to] provide pleasant scenery and shade.” A video promoting the project calls the tree-planting “similar to a military operation in every way.”

JNF Canada says that after being informed of the revenue agency’s rules regarding charitable donations, it stopped funding projects for the Israeli army after 2016.

“To be clear, we no longer fund projects located on IDF land and JNF Canada operates in accordance with [Canada Revenue Agency] regulations governing its status as a charitable organization,” JNF Canada CEO Lance Davis wrote in an email to the CBC.

But its parent organization solicits financial donations from abroad, including from Canada, to broadly fund its projects.

The JNF “appears to be carrying out the projects, which it views as its own projects, rather than the projects of independent branches of the organization abroad,” the complaint explains.

For example, in 2017, JNF Canada helped its parent organization build a “perimeter security road” in Netiv HaAsara, a Jewish town near Israel’s boundary with the Gaza Strip, to be used by Israeli patrol units.

perimeter road announcement

© netiv-haasara
JNF Canada’s 2017 Staff Mission report promotes its project to help build a road for Israeli patrols.
    Save

The town is a popular destination for war tourists to gawk at the besieged Gaza Strip from the comfort of tour buses.

JNF Canada also raises money for Brothers For Life, which aids wounded Israeli soldiers and sends former military personnel to lead guided propaganda tours in Israel to promote the army and Zionism, Israel’s state ideology, to tourists.

Furthermore, complainants argue that there is no transparency about where donations collected by JNF Canada are ultimately funneled, even though JNF Canada is only authorized to initiate and fund its own projects.

The JNF, the complaint says, “should be helping JNF Canada in carrying out its own projects, rather than viewing Canadian donors as ‘friends of JNF in Canada’ … who merely send money abroad” to support JNF projects.

Activists in the US have sued the Treasury Department over the JNF’s charitable status. Its charitable status has also been questioned in the UK and in the Netherlands.

In 2013, South Africa’s former ambassador in Tel Aviv publicly rejected a gift from the Israeli government of 18 trees planted in his name by the JNF on land violently expropriated from Palestinian owners.

“Feel good” ethnic cleansing

By using tree-planting and environmental initiatives to help Israel push Palestinians off their land and lease it to Jews only, JNF’s actions over the last century have been emblematic of Israel’s efforts at “greenwashing” its settler-colonial policies.

The JNF admits that it plants forests in semi-arid regions across Palestine where it is “especially difficult for a forest to grow” – including over the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages.

Promoting an event with the hashtag #FeelGoodFriday, JNF Canada tweeted over the summer that its parent organization was collaborating with Bedouin communities in the Naqab (Negev) “to protect the environment.”

Yet this “collaboration” belies the JNF’s role in the ongoing displacement and demolition of Palestinian Bedouin communities in the Naqab region in order to make way for Jews.

In October 2012, JNF representatives accompanied Israeli police forces and interior ministry officials in a raid on the Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj and handed out demolition orders.

It has also aided Israeli government plans to expel villagers from Umm al-Hiran to build a Jewish settlement – named Hiran – in its place.

And since 2010, residents of al-Araqib have resisted the JNF’s plans to erase their village and plant a forest over its ruins. Israel has demolished al-Araqib at least 136 times.

Sheikh Sayeh Abu Madiam, the patriarch of the village, was recently sentenced to 10 months in prison for trespassing on his own land.

Canada protects JNF crimes

This is not the first time that the Canada Revenue Agency has nominally investigated the JNF Canada at the urging of activists.

But the Canadian government, in violation of its own laws, has protected the organization and has consistently ignored – or embraced – JNF Canada’s role in Israel’s violent and discriminatory practices.

Because Canadian politicians across the political spectrum have historically held close ties to the JNF Canada, activists will have to work hard to make sure their complaints are taken seriously.

“The formal political mechanisms are so dominated by the advocates of the JNF,” Rabbi David Mivasair of Independent Jewish Voices Canada told The Electronic Intifada. Mivasair joins Zayid in the complaint to the Canada Revenue Agency.

He said that filing the complaint and the petition is part of a strategy to push JNF Canada supporters to question the organization’s policies.

Mivasair hopes that some people “who give to the JNF without thinking about it” will recognize that supporting JNF Canada is just as harmful “as supporting the whaling industry, the tobacco industry, or the oil industry.”

“I’m hoping that this illegal and inhuman act of allowing our tax dollars to support a charity that is racist and applies discriminatory laws against even its own citizens ends,” Zayid said.

%d bloggers like this: