January 21, 2006

JNF's "racist land-grab worthy of apartheid"

Here's a book review from the Guardian. The book is City of Oranges: Arabs and Jews in Jaffa by Adam LeBor.
The most telling of LeBor's details on Jewish methods is his account of the quasi-legal subterfuge by which all confiscated land was handed not to the state, of which Israeli Arabs were citizens, but to an institution called the Jewish National Fund. One of the JNF's founding articles held that property in its possession was the inalienable property of the Jewish people. Thus Arabs could neither appeal the decision nor apply for compensation. It was a racist land-grab worthy of apartheid South Africa at its worst, and between 1948 and 1990 Israeli Arabs lost almost one million acres. Even in 1950 a Jewish journalist called it "wholesale robbery in legal guise".
It's hard to follow the antics of the Jewish National Fund these days because of a split between the Israeli and UK branches. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign accused the JNF in the UK of being an instigator and beneficiary of ethnic cleansing. For that the JNF-UK threatened them with a libel action. SPSC stood firm and the JNF dropped its threat.

The JNF did win one small victory over this. Of course they couldn't disprove the claim that they are financial supporters of ethnic cleansing but they could, it appears, pressure the SPSC's website hosts to prevent the SPSC from publishing their response to the JNF's lawyers' threat of legal action. Here's a piece of the JNF's lawyers'letter:
as a matter of urgency a full and unequivocal retraction and an apology in terms to be approved by us together with an undertaking not to repeat these allegations...Our client is also entitled to substantial damages upon which we invite your proposals. In addition, our client will also require payment by you of all legal costs it has incurred in this matter.
And here's ther SPSC's response:
Date: 3 April 2004

We have received a letter from your lawyers threatening to sue us and demanding damages and apology from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign on the grounds that we have stated publicly that "the Jewish National Fund (JNF) raises funds for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians."

As you know, every word we have written is true and we look forward to meeting representatives of your racist organisation in front of a British jury. We will produce witnesses to verify that they personally have been, and remain to this day, the victims of ethnic cleansing by the Israelis, which is supported by the Jewish National Fund. They will testify that this ethnic cleansing has gone on for over 56 years and continues to this day.

Hell will freeze over before we part with one penny to your Fund, which would only go towards the further violation of the human rights of Palestinians. Your demand for damages is an impertinence – your organisers deserve to be in prison for the human rights violations they have encouraged and supported.

We stand by our statement and many similar statements and will continue, with many others committed to opposing Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, to publicise the evidence of your involvement in the world’s longest-running, unfinished programme of ethnic cleansing.

The pathetic nature of your ‘case’ is made clear by your slight of hand, namely, that we implied that the JNF “supports the unlawful expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from their homelands.” Far from being unlawful, your atrocious violations of Palestinian human rights are perfectly legal in the racist State of Israel. We are a campaign for the human rights of all; our supporters, Muslim, Christian, Jewish and many of no religious persuasion, are determined to see the end of a fund which violates in Israel/Palestine every generally accepted norm of human rights with the assistance of generous subsidies from Gordon Brown and the British taxpayer.

The JNF is the only group of organised racists we have corresponded with and it is not a pleasant experience. Please do not write back except to inform us of the date of the first court appearance. Any decision on your part not to proceed with your threats of legal action will be taken as an admission that you are indeed, as we claim and insist, involved in racist activities and the ongoing programme of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Mick Napier
Chair, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
The SPSC is still awaiting a response to their challenge. The bit I don't get is why the SPSC stays with a host that won't let them publish what they choose to publish. Must investigate.

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