[Boycott - Israel Supporters]
Israel's royal welcome - JNF 60th Anniversary at Windsor Castle
Tony Greenstein, Comment is free, The Guardian
25 March 2008
An organisation which discriminates against non-Jews is having a 'charitable' dinner at Windsor Castle
On April 7, Prince Philip will be hosting a dinner at Windsor Castle organised by the Jewish National Fund. They will be marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Israeli state. However this is not a private dinner. Nor is the JNF an ordinary organisation.
The JNF was established in 1901 as the land settlement wing of the World Zionist Organisation. It became one of the primary instruments involved in planning for the dispossession and expulsion of the Palestinians. Up until 1948 it purchased land for settlement, often from absentee landlords, and then evicted the peasants from that land. Unlike the normal practice under colonial rule, the Palestinians were not re-employed as wage labourers but excluded from the land altogether. This was the concept of Jewish land. But even by 1947 less than 7% of the land of Palestine had been bought up.
The JNF played a crucial role in planning for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. In the years leading up to the establishment of the state of Israel, the JNF was a key voice in establishing a consensus in the Zionist leadership for "transfer". Although not discussed openly, among the Zionist leaders it was accepted that a Jewish state could only come into being if the Arabs were transferred out of the state. Palestine was a land where barely one-third of the inhabitants were Jewish, and even in the area allotted by the United Nations to a Jewish state, barely half of the inhabitants were Jewish. As the head of its Land Settlement Department, Joseff Weitz, wrote in his diary in 1940:
The only solution is to transfer the Arabs from here to neighbouring countries. Not a single village or a single tribe must be let off. [Ilan Pappe: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, page 62]
Weitz later formed, with the authority of David Ben Gurion, a Transfer Committee. And between 1947 and 1949 an opportunity arose to put these ideas into practice. As Tom Segev recalled in Ha'aretz, a meeting was held in Haifa on March 27, 1948, concerning the fate of the Bedouin of Arab al-Ghawarina in the Haifa area. "They must be removed from there, so that they, too, will not add to our troubles," Yosef Weitz, of the Keren Kayemeth (Jewish National Fund), wrote in his personal diary.
The JNF occupies a unique position in Israel. It is nominally an independent organisation but in reality it is a contracted-out section of the state, controlled by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, carrying out functions that the state itself cannot be seen to do openly. The JNF functions as an ideological outpost of the Greater Israel movement and when the Israeli army razed to the ground the Palestinian villages of the Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba villages in 1967 and expelled their inhabitants, the JNF took over the construction of the Canada National Park on the ruins.
The JNF's position was formalised by the 1953 KKL Law whereby its memorandum of association had to be approved by the minister of justice. In November 1961 a covenant was signed between the state of Israel and the JNF which accorded the latter effective control of the land allocation policies of the state of Israel, which together with the Israeli Lands Administration, controlled 93% of Israeli land. According to Article 3a of its constitution, the JNF was established "for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties" as it could obtain.
The British royal family have a constitutional role greater than their private prejudices. They are seen as the representatives of British society and their invitation to the JNF will inevitably be seen as giving a royal seal of approval to the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe. Britain's role in arming the Zionist militias who fell like wolves on largely defenceless villagers, while suppressing the 1936 Palestinian national uprising, is infamous enough without the monarchy celebrating the consequences of Britain's perfidy.
Not that the association between royalty and the most barbaric aspects of colonialism is anything new. Today's royals may hold gala dinners in celebration of the abolition of the slave trade and Wilberforce, but when slavery was a going concern, its most ardent supporters were royalty. Elizabeth I went into business as a partner of slave trader John Hawkins, Charles II was a major shareholder in the Royal African Company and William IV, then Duke of Clarence, spoke out strongly against the abolition of the slave trade and emancipation in the House of Lords.
With the solitary exception of Princess Diana and her campaign against landmines, the royals have been associated with the most atavistic and bloody aspects of British imperial rule. From the Indian Mutiny and the Amritsar massacre to the Hola death camp in Kenya, the royals have always been associated with militarism and empire. Prince Harry's role in Afghanistan is a continuation of this inglorious history.
In 1995 an Arab couple, the Kadans, tried to buy an apartment in Katzir. For 10 years the JNF and the Israeli Lands Authority tried to prevent the leasing of "Jewish" land to non-Jews. Eventually the supreme court ruled that state land could not be sold to Jews only.
This caused huge embarrassment among Jews worldwide. How could Jews protest against anti-Semitism when condoning blatantly racist practices in Israel? America's Reform movement, to which most Jews adhere, condemned the practice unequivocally.
The JNF itself, though, was anything but embarrassed. It began a campaign to reverse the court's decision and last summer a JNF Bill was introduced into the Knesset, where it was passed on the first reading by 64-16 votes. Under the headline "KKL-JNF - Trustee for the Jewish People on its Land" it noted that:
A survey commissioned by KKL-JNF reveals that over 70% of the Jewish population in Israel opposes allocating KKL-JNF land to non-Jews, while over 80% prefer the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than as the state of all its citizens.
The implications are quite clear. If Israel is a Jewish state then it cannot be a state of its own citizens, still less a democratic state.
This prompted Israel's liberal newspaper, Ha'aretz, to publish an outspoken editorial, "A racist Jewish state", in which it wrote:
"Every day the Knesset has the option of passing laws that will advance Israel as a democratic Jewish state or turn it into a racist Jewish state. There is a very thin line between the two. This week, the line was crossed."
Even the staid old Jewish Chronicle ran a debate: "Is it racist to set aside Israeli land for Jews only?"
Yet this is part of a wider debate about the "demographic problem", which is shorthand for there being too many Arabs. Academics such as Professor Arnon Sofer, of Haifa University, are quite blatant about this "problem":
"You should remember that on the same day as the Israel Defense Forces is investing efforts and succeeding in eliminating one terrorist or another, on that very same day, as on every day of the year, within the territories of western Israel, about 400 children are being born, some of whom will become new suicide terrorists."
The JNF sits on the opposite side of the fence from those who wish to see Israel as a state of all its citizens as opposed to just its Jewish ones. It is bad enough that our prime minister, Gordon Brown, is a patron of the JNF. But for the royal family to have as their guests those who are dedicated to maintaining Israel as a state of only a part of its citizens is a disgrace.
A letter from Brigadier Sir Miles Hunt Davies, private secretary to the Duke of Edinburgh, seeks to excuse the royal hosting of the JNF by stating that "the proceeds from the dinner are going to a number of charities, one of which will be the Israeli Youth Award for Young People, which is the Israeli branch of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. This charity plays a significant part in attempting to bridge the gap between young people of all faiths and backgrounds, in amongst other places, Israel and Jordan."
So, according to this logic, the royal family will be hosting a dinner for an organisation which explicitly discriminates against Palestinians and non-Jews because the proceeds will be going to a charity which apparently does the complete opposite. You couldn't make it up.
JNF 60th Anniversary Dinner at Windsor Castle: Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine(APJP) letter to HM
Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP)
JNF 60th Anniversary Dinner at Windsor Castle prompted Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP) to write a letter to HM.
APJP Letter to PM
Her Majesty The Queen
London SW1A 1AA
RE: Israel's 60th Anniversary JNF dinner at Windsor Castle on 7 April 2008
After 40 years of Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip, Israel intends to celebrate its 60 years of Independence. Yet there has been no peace, or justice for Palestinians while Israel continues its relentless and illegal settlement expansion on confiscated Palestinian-owned land, and builds its Separation Wall that has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Vast areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been annexed, making a viable Palestinian State impossible. Gaza is imprisoned in a crippling siege with excessive force being used by the IDF against children and civilians, causing many deaths, which the UN Secretary General has branded as disproportionate, and collective punishment. This has bred the unending cycle of violence.
With this continuing scenario, it is particularly disappointing to hear that the Jewish National Fund and the United Jewish Israel Appeal are holding a fund-raising 60th anniversary dinner at Windsor Castle attended by HRH, the Duke of Edinburgh with Israeli President Shimon Peres as the guest of honour. Since 1948, the JNF was the beneficiary of land that was taken from the 530 Palestinian villages and a dozen large towns that were deliberately destroyed, its inhabitants having fled in fear and even killed under order by Israel's leaders, creating 750,000 refugees.
Contrary to the JNF’s benign image, huge tracts of Palestinian agriculture, farmland and orchards were uprooted to make way for the sterilizing impact of pine forests. This ethnic cleansing has been well documented by the new Israeli historians like Ilan Pappe, and Israeli human rights organizations, which reveal the myths of ‘making the desert bloom’ that the JNF has tried to project. This confiscation without compensation is now ongoing in the Negev, within Israel.
The JNF, through its ‘Blueprint Negev’ plan, intends to create 25 new towns over the coming years, bringing 250,000 new Jewish-only residents to the region, according to its website. To make way for new JNF communities, ‘unrecognized’ Bedouin villages were destroyed during 2007 in military-style operations displacing hundreds of families, all citizens of Israel. The JNF is also planting forests on Bedouin land, such as the Ambassador Forest on the lands of the Elokbi Tribe north of Beersheba.
As architects and planners in the UK and internationally, we are most concerned about the ethics of Israeli architects designing and building on these lands, and the devastation of the environment that the JNF and the IDF are party to.
We have already written to the Prime Minister about the contradictions of his being a patron of the charity JNF-UK and thus an unbiased participant in the Middle East peace 'process'. The presence of HRH, the Duke of Edinburgh at the JNF celebrations in Windsor Castle this April, would damage the UK’s international standing and its relations with countries concerned about the result of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. We respectfully urge your re-consideration of allowing this event to take place at Windsor Castle.
Ted Cullinan CBE RA
Eva Jiricna, CBE RA
Abe Hayeem, RIBA, Chair APJP
Haifa Hammami, Sec, APJP
Hans Haenlein RIBA
Tchaik Chassay, RIBA
Cezary Bednarski RIBA
Kate Mackintosh, RIBA, MBE
Louis Hellman, RIBA
Jake Brown, RIBA
Mike Macrae, RIBA
John Murray, Architect
Walter Hain, Architect
John van Rooyen RIBA
David Berridge RIBA
Hubert Murray, RIBA, AIA
Martin O’Shea, RIBA
Nicholas Wood MA (Cantab)ARIBA,FRGS
Sara Wood,MA Oxon
Michael Gwilliam, Planner
John Hodge, RIBA
Malcolm Hecks, Architect
Karin Pally, TPIA Santa Monica, LA
John Lynes, FSIBSE, FSLL
Kelvin Bland, Architect
Francesca Visconti, Architect
Faisal Khan RIBA
Asif Khan MRTPI
Mari Riddle, Urban Planner, CA
Mick Scott, Architect
Chris Teague, RIBA
Wade Sowman, Planner,NZ
Rand el Haj Hasan
Reply from the Duke Of Edinburgh's Office
From: Private Secretary to H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh
10 March, 2008
The Duke of Edinburgh has asked me to thank you for your letter dated 1st March to me in which you commented on the wisdom of the dinner at Windsor Castle to be held in April to mark the 60th Anniversary of the State of Israel.
You comments have, of course, been noted and whilst not wishing to be drawn into a discussion about the points raised in your letter, I feel you may wish to be aware that the proceeds from the dinner are going to a number of charities, one of which will be the Israeli Youth Award for Young People, which is the Israeli branch of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. This charity plays a significant part in attempting to bridge the gap between young people of all faiths and backgrounds, in amongst other places, Israel and Jordan.
APJP reply to HRH The Duke' Private Secretary
Brigadier Sir Miles Hunt-Davis, K.C.V.O., C.B.E.
Private Secretary to H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh
Dear Sir Miles
RE: Israel's 60th Anniversary JNF dinner at Windsor Castle on 7 April 2008
Thank you very much for your very prompt reply to our letter of 10 March to H.R.H.The Duke of Edinburgh regarding his hosting of the JNF/UJIA dinner at Windsor Castle.
I do appreciate that one of the subjects of the fund raising - the Israel Youth Award - is doing some good work with youth in all faiths and backgrounds as you say In Israel and Jordan. Yet what is being done for the Palestinian youth in Gaza and the West Bank? The Gaza under-19s team which had been invited to play British football clubs was refused entry by the UK last year. The players had overcome difficult circumstances to qualify for their national team even though there are few proper football pitches and Israeli forces had bombed Gaza's main stadium.
In general, Palestinians are being herded into vast prison-like cantons, strangulated by checkpoints and Jewish-only highways, with daily incursions by the IDF who assassinate activists, arrest youth indiscriminately, and destroy homes, farms and schools, and continue confiscating their land to build illegal settlements and the obscene Separation Wall. This is what has been achieved for peace after 60 years of Israeli Independence and what will underlie the celebrations – the destruction of hope.
Although the Duke’s Award may bridge some sort of social gap between these youths of the different communities, it unfortunately does not address the basic inequalities between the Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel. In fact it is the Jewish National Fund that is still instrumental in Judai-ising the Galilee and the Negev, continuing with the divisive and racist policies that are the antithesis of Israel’s own Declaration of Independence based on the principle of civic equality for all citizens. Even the World Zionist Organisation has called upon the government of Israel “to act urgently to implement its decisions to reduce the gaps between the Arab citizens and the Jewish citizens in the State of Israel in all areas of life”. One cannot disconnect the treatment of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel from Israel-Palestinian relations.
As it is obvious that the dinner will go ahead (I believe without Shimon Peres attending), it is regrettable that the excuse of the Israel Youth Awards will be seen as a sop to the other charities like the JNF. The majority of the funds raised will continue to underline the Israel/Palestine divide. Unfortunately the presence of the Duke, hailed by Israel supporters, will be seen by those struggling for a just peace, as lending respectability to Israel’s continuing Occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.
Protest Against JNF 60th Anniversary at Windsor Castle
Photos by Brian Robinson
7 April 2008
In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel, the Royal Family had opened the gates of Windsor Castle to host a fund raising dinner in aid of the Jewish National Fund(JNF) - the principle organ of the zionist movement responsible for the theft of Palestinian land. Duke of Edinburgh was to be host but due to illness, the Duke of York too over.
Activists from many pro-justice groups demonstrated outside the gates of Windsor Castle to shame the dinner guests (£1000 a head) as they arrived. Local Palestine Solidarity Campaign branches from Buckinghamshire and Berkshire were present as were members from the London branch and members of JBIG (Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods). Perhaps one of the largest contingents was from the Neturei Karta - Ultra-Orthodox Jews against Zionism.
Zionist supporters arriving to JNF fundraiser dinner (£1000 per head)
JNF racist thieves
Neturei Karta - Judaism rejects Zionism
Activists protesting outside Windsor Castle
Honouring 60 years of ethnic cleansing of Palestine is obscene
No fundraising for JNF
J-BIG (Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods)
Source: Photos: http://musicweaver.users.btopenworld.com/demo_against_jnf_celebration.htm
For further reporting see: http://randompottins.blogspot.com/2008/04/how-about-this-parade-of-shame.html
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