Tuesday 4th June 2013
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Media Release
CONTROVERSIAL ISRAEL CHARITY FACES FUNDRAISER PROTEST
Campaigners are set to protest a “charity shoot” fundraiser for the UK arm of a controversial Israeli organisation today.
The Jewish National Fund (JNF) has faced increasing criticism over its ownership or control of almost all of the land of the State of Israel, which it admits it administers in a discriminatory fashion. According to the JNF, “Its loyalty is given to the Jewish people in the Diaspora and in the state of Israel... The JNF… is not a public body that works for the benefit of all citizens of the state… [and] does not have a duty to practice equality towards all citizens of the state.”
The UK Charity Commission confirmed last month that it would be carrying out checks on the JNF to ensure its compatibility with the Equalities Act 2010. The Commission’s Mike Maher said the regulator “intends to raise with the trustees of JNFCT how they are satisfied that the restriction of the provision of services to people defined by a protected characteristic, is lawful.”
Maher explained that if the JNF cannot justify its discrimination, “the Commission would consider a charity to be under a duty to change the purpose”, although “whether action on the part of the trustees of JNFCT is required remains to be seen”.
Until recently, the JNF had been able to count on the traditional support of the leaders of the UK’s three main political parties. However, David Cameron’s resignation as patron two years ago saw him join his Labour and Lib Dem counterparts in removing their open support for the UK registered charity. Former JNF president, Gail Seal, said: "It is very damaging, not just for JNF but for the community. It undermines the work we are trying to do for Israel. It's broken a chain since 1901 where we have always had a British prime minister as a patron.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland and the Green Party are amongst a range of groups who have signed up to opposing the Israeli body renowned for what they refer to as “greenwash”, whereby it establishes forests and parks to conceal the remains of destroyed Palestinian villages.
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) joins campaigners from the Stop the JNF group and student Palestine societies in protesting the JNF’s charity clay pigeon shoot at Cowan’s Law in Ayrshire. SPSC’s JNF spokesperson, Sofiah Maclead, said, “often those who agree to assist a charity fundraiser don’t ask too many questions about what the organisation does with the money raised. Our aim today is to raise awareness about the JNF’s devastating role in forcing the indigenous Palestinian population from their land. Armed with those facts, many fundraisers will refuse a repeat invitation.
Notes for editors:
1. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (Intifada). The SPSC has branches around Scotland.
For further information, contact:
SPSC JNF spokesperson, Sofiah Maclead: 0131 620 0052; 07931200361
2. The JNF’s “charity shoot” will take place at
Map and directions: http://www.cowanslaw.com/findingus.html
3. Set up in 1901 to acquire land for a Jewish State in Palestine, since 1953 the Jewish National Fund, (JNF) has operated as a part of the State. Through its ownership of 13% of the land in the state of Israel, and significant control of the Israel Land Authority, the JNF is currently responsible for managing approximately 93% of the total land in the State.
The JNF’s constitution explicitly states that JNF land and property is not to be rented, leased, sold, or worked by non-Jews.
Stop the JNF Campaign website: www.stopthejnf.org
Stop the JNF Campaign Factsheet: http://www.stopthejnf.org/documents/campaignmaterials/stopthejnfcampaignFACTSHEET.pdf
4. Quote from JNF is a response to Supreme Court Petition H.C. 9205/04, Adalah v. The Israel Land Administration, the Minister of Finance and the Jewish National Fund, Challenging the Prevention of Arab Citizens of Israel from Living on Jewish National Fund Land.
JNF response: http://www.adalah.org/eng/publications/makan/hc9010.pdf ; see par 250
Excerpts from Supreme Court Petition H.C. 9205/04 here: http://www.adalah.org/eng/publications/makan/hc9205.pdf
5. Letter from the Charity Commission’s Mike Maher, 15th May 2013:
Quoted in the “Decision” section, and at para. 44.
6. David Cameron resigns as patron of the Jewish National Fund
Guardian, 29 May 2011
7. Quote from former JNF president, Gail Seal
Cameron's JNF split: it was Israel, Jewish Chronicle, June 2 2011
8. On 28th May 2011, Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation, Friends of the Earth Scotland, voted unanimously to support the call for action against the JNF.
Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, Stan Blackley, said:
"At today's land rights conference the activities of the JNF were brought to the attention of our members, supporters and interested members of the public. Our organisation is pleased to join the call for the revocation for the JNF's charitable status in the UK and to help raise awareness on this little known issue."
9. Motion passed at the Green Party of England and Wales Spring conference on 26th February 2012:
“The Green Party of England and Wales condemns the Jewish National Fund for its activities in excluding non-Jews from Israeli land and denounces the organisation for claiming to be an ecological agency.
“The GPEW endorses the international call for action against the JNF and supports efforts to revoke its charitable status in the UK.
“The GPEW will add its name to the list of signatories of the ‘Stop the JNF Campaign’. (http://www.stopthejnf.org//).”