Proposed site of a national park in east Jerusalem 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A member of the US Jewish National Fund’s board has resigned in protest of
efforts to evict Palestinians from property it owns in east Jerusalem.
a letter published by The Forward on Tuesday, Seth Morrison said the cooperation
of a JNF subsidiary with Elad – an organization that helps Jews move into
predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods like Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah –
tarnished its mission of bolstering a “peaceful and democratic
“By supporting right-wing settlers in ‘Judaizing’ Palestinian
neighborhoods, JNF makes this vision harder to achieve,” Morrison wrote. “I fear
that such actions endanger Israel’s future as a secure and democratic
Morrison said his decision to severe ties with JNF –whose little
blue donation boxes he remembers fondly from childhood – was hard but necessary
given the sense of “betrayal” he felt.
According to Morrison, JNF has
transferred property in east Jerusalem that came under its ownership to Jewish
settler groups for decades. He said the most recent such case involves the
Sumarins, a Palestinian family living in Silwan. According to the JNF the family
is squatting on land that it does not own.
Leftist groups however say it
was unlawfully taken from the Sumarins.
The family awaits a court
decision on whether it will be evicted.
Morrison, who is also involved in
J Street, a left-leaning lobby group in Washington, said JNF officials “made
clear to me that they still plan to get the Sumarin family out and transfer the
property to Elad.” Their decision, he said, made it impossible for him to
continue to be involved with JNF.
“My commitment to Israel remains
strong,” he wrote. “But I will invest my time and financial resources in
organizations committed to peace, democracy and coexistence between
Members of Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity, who oppose efforts by Elad
to fill neighborhoods in east Jerusalem with Jews, celebrated Morrison’s
“The involvement of the Jewish National Fund in the dubious
activity of Elad evicting families from their houses in favor of expanding a
dangerous extremist settlement in Silwan is a sign of shame for the Foundation,
its supporters and donors,” it said in a statement released by the
“We call on the JNF to immediately cease cooperating with
an extremist settler organization and release its hands off the houses of the
citizens of Silwan.”
The US JNF lamented Morrison’s decision.
are sorry that Seth has chosen to go in the direction he has,” the spokesman
wrote in an e-mail.
She enclosed a letter sent by Russell
F. Robinson, JNF CEO, asking Morrison to reconsider his position.