David Cameron's resignation from Jewish National Fund: victory for historical memory
Following a campaign by the Stop the JNF Campaign, British Prime Minister David Cameron's name has apparently been dropped from the list of honorary patrons of the Jewish National Fund-UK. Twelve days ago, Stop the JNF Campaign wrote to Cameron, reiterating a previous request for him to withdraw as patron of the charity. The campaign's Mortaza Sahibzada said: "His name has been taken off the list and that is significant. Someone has decided to take it off and I doubt whether it was JNF."
Cameron became an honorary patron of JNF five years ago, and other patrons still include former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. In its latest letter to Cameron, Stop the JNF complained that the JNF's "British Park"—a "reforested" area proclaimed by a sign at the site as "a gift of the Jewish National Fund of Great Britain"—was was in fact planted "in order to cover over the remains of the Palestinian villages of Ajjur and Zakariyya, destroyed in 1948, and to prevent the original population and their descendants from returning." (Jewish Chronicle, May 26; Stop the JNF Campaign, April 7, 2011; Electronic Intifada, Feb. 15, 2010)
The JNF was created in 1901 by the Fifth Zionist Congress in order to "build a country out of nothing," according to its own literature. However, Palestinian civil society organisations say that from its establishment "the JNF has been a chief partner in the Zionist colonial drive to dispossess indigenous Palestinians of their land, culminating in the Nakba of 1948 when Zionist militias and later Israel expelled a majority of the Palestinian population in order to establish a state with a Jewish majority." Michael Kalmanovitz of Stop the JNF Campaign says: "The JNF controls land either directly or through the Israel Land Authority on which it has majority seats. That’s how it prevents Palestinians from living or working on this Palestinian land. According to the ideology of the JNF and the state of Israel, as a Jewish person, Zionists have given me more legal right to live on that land than the Palestinian people who were born there, although I have never lived there. For example, the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev has been demolished by the JNF twenty one times since July 2010 in order to drive them out."
Samuel Hayek, chair of JNF UK, recently said: "For over 100 years we have had one mission: to settle and develop the Land of Israel. Today, thanks to the incredible support we receive and particularly our work in the Negev, JNF continues to pioneer this historic Zionist dream in the 21st century." (Jews san Frontieres, March 30)
The Jewish National Fund boasts: "Since it was established in 1901, JNF has planted more than 240 million trees all over the State of Israel, providing luscious belts of green covering more than 250,000 acres." Palestinians charge these groves were often planted to cover the ruins of destroyed Arab villages.