By Marion Kawas
For over 20 years, Vancouver activists have been picketing the fund-raising galas of the Jewish National Fund JNF and exposing its racist and discriminatory policies. The JNF in Canada, as in many other countries, receives tax-deductible status; this means the public in Canada are being forced to subsidize the ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians, and are also being made complicit in Israeli war crimes.
Recently, the Canada Revenue Agency, after many years of complaints, was forced to audit the JNF, after it blatantly violated regulations that prohibit charities from funding projects benefiting foreign militaries (in this case, the Israeli Defense Forces).
However, the JNF’s involvement in the dispossession of the Palestinian people does not start nor end with its blatant “charity for the Israeli military”.
The JNF was created in 1901 for the explicit purpose of obtaining land for Jewish-only settlement and played a pivotal and defining role in implementing the Zionist project. JNF Canada’s signature project, Canada Park, is built on the ruins of 3 Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank destroyed and depopulated in 1967.
JNF has also been involved in helping settler organizations in occupied Jerusalem and been part of the staggering 142 demolitions of the Palestinian Bedouin village of al Araqib in the Naqab (Negev). The destruction of al Araqib is happening under the cover of “re-forestation”, something the JNF uses often in erasing Palestinian history and presence, a practice that led to the now famous term of “greenwashing apartheid”.
All of this under the guise of charitable work and with public funding through its Canadian tax status, which has not been revoked.
So once again this year, on April 14, 2019, activists in Vancouver took to the streets to call out both the JNF and Canadian complicity, in a picket organized by Canada Palestine Association and Independent Jewish Voices, Vancouver.
This year’s action was one of the largest and most spirited in the 20 years of this annual tradition and reflects the growing impatience amongst people in Canada with Israel’s continuing impunity for its war crimes. Speakers highlighted the JNF’s racist policies, the connections of the Palestinian struggle with other indigenous struggles, as well as the role Israel is playing in implementing US hegemonic designs in the region.
Zionist organizations like the JNF will soon realize that history is not on their side and the arrogance they and their supporters display towards Palestinian rights puts them on a collision course with the growing global movement for justice for Palestine.
(Video credit: Devin Gillan)
– Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.cpavancouver.org.