Targeting KKL-JNF

We should not be fooled by those using the guise of “defenders of human rights” to attack KKL-JNF; their target is Israel itself.

July 10, 2013 23:59
3 minute read.

KKL-JNF-COMBATS. (photo credit: kkl)

There appears to be a new international campaign to delegitimize the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund. All those who care about the future of the largest, oldest environmental organization in Israel – and the Jewish state itself – should take it seriously.

Army Radio correspondent Ilil Shahar reported this week that the latest campaign was triggered by KKL-JNF’s plans to plant a forest near al-Arakib, a Beduin village in the Negev. Human rights organizations immediately jumped on the anti-Israel bandwagon and assailed KKL-JNF’s alleged seizure of land that belonged to the village – something JNF categorically denies.

Shahar played a video that had been posted on YouTube in which an Arab man who lives in a nearby village says “I don’t know if you know what Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael is, but it’s one of the racist organizations in Israel, grabbing land from Palestinian refugees.”

She added that leftist groups had now taken their protest a step further by appealing directly to foreign governments, including Germany, Canada and Britain, to take KKL-JNF off their lists of nonprofit organizations eligible to receive donations.

Army Radio’s Razi Barkai on Tuesday interviewed KKL-JNF emissaries in Toronto, Ilan Pilo, and Paris, Reuven Na’amat, who corroborated the report, and warned of a growing campaign to delegitimize the organization in Canada and France.

Na’amat said that as the Muslim community in France strengthened day by day, so did its attempts to stop funding to KKL-JNF and Israel.

“In the last two years, we have been facing a growing campaign by Palestinian Arabs against Keren Kayemeth,” Na’amat said. “Recently, this campaign has included serious threats against our activists, against us.”

Pilo said the campaign reached a climax in Toronto last month during a large event KKL-JNF had arranged to honor the IDF, in the presence of Israeli war hero former public security minister Avigdor Kahalani. “We encountered many negative responses, a demonstration against the event and we had to institute a very high security alert,” Pilo said.

Dr. Meir Margalit, a Jerusalem city councilor from the left-wing Meretz party, made it clear that he sided with KKL-JNF’s detractors and opposed its “expropriation of Arab lands.”

“JNF did good things in the good old days,” Margalit said. “The problem is that today KKL-JNF [workers] have become the technocrats of the occupation, and in one way or another are serving the Right in the name of the redemption of land.”

Perhaps the most harmful PR blow came when the previous South African ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia, recently rejected the traditional gift certificate of 18 trees planted in his name by KKL-JNF.

“The JNF has planted the so-called Ambassadors’ Forest on land violently seized from the Beduin village of al-Arakib,” he wrote, calling his tree certificate “nothing less than an offense to my dignity and integrity.”

Such assaults against KKL-JNF are aimed at the very heart of the Jewish state. They generally portray Israel as “an apartheid state” and are disguised as politically correct attacks on behalf of the Palestinians against Israel’s “occupation” of Arab land.

These attacks are part of the global campaign by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. BDS seeks to isolate Israel, ostensibly to punish it for not enabling the establishment of a Palestinian state along pre-1967 lines.

KKL-JNF has come under fire in social networks, conventional media and public protests. But repeating lies does not make them true. KKL-JNF plants trees only inside pre-1967 lines in accordance with the law.

Sources in KKL-JNF told The Jerusalem Post that the organization has never evicted a person from his or her land nor has it planted a single tree on land that does not belong to it or to the state.

The sources also noted that as an environmental organization, KKL-JNF dedicates much of its work toward environmental development and forestry for the benefit of all citizens of Israel, including the Beduin. KKL-JNF has, inter alia, established Wadi Atir, a farm for ecological agriculture and tourism, from which many Beduin are able to create a sustainable livelihood.

We should not be fooled by those using the guise of “defenders of human rights” to attack KKL-JNF. They have another agenda; their target is Israel itself. And their arguments should be countered with one word: False!

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