“we are the ones whose homes are being demolished”

by tobybee

coming up on February 3rd is the JNF’s Green Sunday. It’s the day when they do a call around, asking people to donate to the JNF. This year they’re focused on the region around Beer Sheva, a region which, when planted with trees (which are primarily pine trees, not a sustainable or suitable tree for that region), forces indigenous Bedouins off their lands. Indeed, the JNF has been forcing Bedouins and Palestinians off their lands and out of their homes across all parts of Palestine/Israel for as long as it has been in existence, in order to claim land for Jewish settlers. This is, as we well know, often done under the guise of environmentalism.

In an article in the Jewish News advertising Green Sunday, Michael Naphtali (the current national president of the JNF) says that the “JNF has tapped into what is important: Israel’s survival and Jewish continuity, and I think Green Sunday is a great event that combines both.” In doing so, he makes the situation quite clear: the JNF works with a particular idea of survival and continuity. This is an idea of these things wherein Israel is always and only Jewish: survival and continuity is directly linked to the erasure and dispossession of non-Jews.

Yet sadly, as Jews living in Melbourne we hear nothing of the true effects of the JNF. There is no discussion, only silence. Actually, not only silence, for we are encouraged (or indoctrinated) from a young age to believe that there is no flip side to this idea of “survival and continuity”: to actually believe that the JNF helps to make the desert bloom (as though this isn’t one of the great lies that colonial societies always tell themselves).

So we need to start talking. We need to make the facts clear, to get the stories known.

One of the villages that is directly affected by the JNF and their erasures and replantings is Al Araqib, located in the Negev. There is much information out there about their struggles – including that the village – which is unrecognised by the Israeli government – has, as of mid-December 2012, been demolished 45 times.

For an introduction I encourage you to watch this short doco. And then to read, and talk to your family and friends, and reconsider what the JNF is, and the role that it should play in your life.

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