Greener grass over the wall: Israel

2012-11-17 11:14

False allegations are once again being levelled against the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet Leisrael (KKL-JNF).

On closer examination, these are revealed to be just the latest attempts to undermine the state of Israel, this time by targeting its largest environmental organisation.

The JNF is an environmental organisation that dedicates much of its work and activity towards environmental development and forestry for the benefit of all citizens of Israel.

Over more than a century of activity, it has planted more than 247 million trees, ­created a network of water reservoirs, as well as hundreds of megawatts of ­renewable solar power.

These projects work across all the various sectors of ­Israeli society and include both Jewish and non-Jewish groups.

Several projects have been carried out as part of this framework, including a facility for waste-water treatment projects in rural communities in the desert region of the Negev and the ­establishment of WadiAtir, a farm for ­ecological agriculture and tourism, from which many Bedouin stakeholders are able create a sustainable ­livelihood.

Nobel prize-winner Al Gore has said that the work done by the JNF is one of the great ecological success ­stories of our time and could be a model developed that other countries can ­follow.

Indeed, the work of the JNF is not just limited to Israel, it has been recognised across the world for its innovative ­approach to environmental problem-solving.

It is an accredited United Nations NGO that regularly attends international environmental conferences such as COP17 and the RIO summits.

At these events, it conducts workshops in sustainable forestry that are ­attended by countries from Africa, Asia and South America, and there is even cooperation with some Arab states.

A flagship JNF project in Rwanda has helped to create an Israeli-style kibbutz, which houses genocide survivors and trains them in agriculture.
South Africa, too, has benefited ­directly from the work of the JNF through the free provision of bio-control technologies that have saved ­millions of hectares of trees and thousands of jobs in the forestry sector.

Its national environmental education programmes also reach thousands of disadvantaged children once a year.

None of this matters to our anti-Israel agitators, of course, since their only ­interest is to target Israel wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.

It needs to be made absolutely clear, however, that the JNF only works on land that it owns or that is owned by the state of Israel, and any assertion to the ­contrary is bald-faced, dishonest ­propaganda.

These claims against JNF are ­unfounded.

It is clear that they are based on an acute lack of knowledge or a deliberate disinterest in the facts.

The JNF is working towards improving the environment and will continue doing so in order to ­ensure the creation of a better and more sustainable future for all.

– Feldman is the national executive director of JNF South Africa and Cohen is its national chairperson

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