The Scottish Green Party, yesterday condemned the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a British charity implicated in human rights violations in Israel. At its annual conference in Aberdeen, delegates unanimously supported a motion against the JNF and called for its charitable status to be revoked.
In May of this year, David Cameron resigned as honorary patron of the JNF, the first time in the history of the JNF that a British Prime Minister has not held this position. The Scottish Greens are the first elected party overtly to condemn the JNF.
The JNF claims to be ‘green’ because of its practice of planting trees in Palestine / Israel. Delegates heard that the JNF used tree planting to cover up the remains of Palestinian villages destroyed after Zionist armed militias expelled the inhabitants. Speakers described how this involvement in ethnic cleansing has been going on throughout the organisation’s history of over 100 years, especially following military expansion in 1948 and 1967; and that the JNF continues to be involved in the expulsion of Palestinian Bedouin in the Negev desert, to create and fund Jewish-only parks and settlements. Campaigners argue that these actions amount to the crimes of ‘apartheid’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’, illegal in international law.
The Scottish Greens condemned the JNF for using the ‘green’ label to practice crimes against the Palestinian people. The Greens add their endorsement to an international campaign to stop the JNF, launched by Palestinian civil society and international solidarity activists including Jewish anti-Zionists earlier this year.
Fiona Napier, attending the conference on behalf of the Stop the JNF Campaign, explained, “The JNF practices are being used by the Israeli state to prevent the right of return for refugees of the Nakba (catastrophe) when 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes for the establishment of the state of Israel.” Terry Gallogly of the Stop the JNF organising committee commented: “The importance of this vote should not be underestimated by anyone, it is a big step towards destroying the JNF's attempt to greenwash its ethnic cleansing.”
The motion was proposed by Green Party member Dr Eurig Scandrett, who participated in a study tour of the JNF’s activities in Israel and the West Bank last year. Dr Scandrett said:
“Having witnessed the remains of Palestinian villages on JNF land in Israel, and heard an old woman tell her story of being forcibly driven out from one of those villages as a young mother over 60 years ago, I felt I had to do something about this organisation. There are signs in ‘British park’, proudly announcing that it was funded by JNF supporters in Glasgow, who were probably unaware that their donations were going towards ethnic cleansing.”
“I’m delighted that there has been this unanimous vote at conference for the Scottish Green Party to take a stand against the JNF, and our MSPs and Councillors will now take action to challenge the organisation’s activities in Scotland.”
Last month the Israeli cabinet approved plans for a large-scale ‘transfer’ of 30,000 Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab (Negev) desert from their ancestral lands and a further plan schedules the eviction of 27,000 Bedouin from their lands in the West Bank.
An Early Day Motion, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn and Gerald Kaufman in March is gaining support from MPs who believe that there is “just cause to consider revocation of the JNF's charitable status in the UK”.