Greener grass over the wall: Palestine

2012-11-17 11:28

The Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb in the Negev, south of Israel, was destroyed for the 39th time in October.

A Jewish National Fund (JNF) forest will be planted over the ruins of the once-thriving village.

The Bedouin of this village are among the 40 000 Naqab Bedouin that the ­Israeli government plans to resettle in townships to make space for Jews to

settle in the Negev under Project ­Blueprint, which plans to bring 250 000 Jews to the area.

Forests and recreation parks in Israel are some of the JNF’s most famous and well-cited projects.

The JNF markets ­itself as an environmental organisation and prides itself on greening the “desert”.

On deeper inspection of many of these forests and recreation parks, they have been planted to cover the ruins of Arab villages and prevent their inhabitants from returning to their homes.

Using the facade of environmentalism, the JNF collects money across the world, while in reality it has planted alien, environmentally damaging forests to ­conceal the evidence of forced removals.

During the process of dispossessing people of their land, the JNF uprooted hundreds of indigenous olive trees.

In addition to the environmental projects it undertakes, the JNF, along with the Israel Land Authority, administers 93% of all land.

This land, through the JNF’s racist policies may ­only be used or leased by Jews, ­discriminating against the non-Jewish citizens of ­Israel.

Earlier this year, a group of concerned Jews discovered that the chain of ­toy shops, Reggies, was distributing a pamphlet asking children to donate money to the JNF South Africa.

We felt it unconscionable that a toy shop, which prides itself on educating and entertaining children, supports an organisation that displaces and
dispossesses people, including children.

After an unsuccessful attempt to ­engage with Reggies, we formed the South African chapter of the global campaign, Stop the JNF.

The steering committee of Stop the JNF South Africa comprises Jewish members, while supporters for the ­campaign form a broad-based, ­nationwide movement which includes all races and religions.

Stop the JNF SA is under the umbrella of the largest ­Palestinian solidarity grouping in South Africa, the Coalition For A Free Palestine, along with other ­organisations such as the ANC, Cosatu, faith-based groups and many others.

The first action led by our group was a picket outside Reggies toy stores on November 4 nationwide, where we ­handed over memoranda demanding that Reggies end their support for the JNF and the human rights abuses it ­commits.

The protest received wide ­media coverage and our pamphlets and placards ensured many people were made aware of the injustices committed by the JNF and the support Reggies ­continues to give it.

We have not received a response to our memorandum, forcing us to intensify our action in the coming months. – Horwitz and Usdin are members of the steering committee of Stop the JNF South Africa

»Follow us on Twitter @StoptheJNFSA


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