Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 and since has planted over 240 million trees and established more than 1,000 parks in Israel. If you Google the JNF, the first page you find is "Plant trees in Israel in memory of a loved one." While that sounds pretty lovely, the JNF has also been accused of "green washing" Israel's war crimes by planting forests over destroyed Arab villages. Several Israeli organizations are fighting the JNF's bulldozing of Bedouin villages.

Anyways, I got two e-mails today, one from Jewish Voice for Peace, one from the Jewish National Fund.

The Jewish National Fund is back to steal more land.

We knew the good news might not last.

After bowing to pressure that you helped generate with your calls and emails, and abruptly pulling its bulldozers out of the Negev Bedouin village of Al-Arakib two weeks ago, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) is back. Now they've brought their bulldozers on Sunday to a new work camp near the JNF settlement of Givot Bar, less than a mile from Al-Arakib. The goal: to continue JNF forestation encircling the village. In fact, the new JNF work camp is located very close to the land of the family of Dr. Awad Abu-Freih, the spokesperson for the village of Al-Arakib who has played a prominent role in the campaign against JNF’s activities.
As public pressure mounted, JNF hid the sign bearing its logos and those of GOD-TV, the evangelical Christian station paying for the forest, and then finally pulled their bulldozers out of Al-Arakib itself. This was the victory, but we knew it might not be permanent. In just two days, thousands of you contacted the JNF offices to call for the pause in demolitions to last until a permanent solution could be found.

Now the JNF is revving up its bulldozers for more forestation on Bedouin land, even though the land's ownership is still in dispute in Israeli courts. We need to contact them again to be sure they get the message.

JNF and the Israeli government are working together to forcibly displace tens of thousands of Bedouin from their land, so that large tracts of the Negev can be devoted to a continuous swath of new JNF-funded Jewish-only settlements. Prime Minister Netanyahu has called the Bedouin "a real threat...just like the Balkans" simply for living on their land. Even if no more villages are demolished, encircling them and stealing land will have the same effect: the Bedouin will be forced to leave. And that is wrong.

But working together with groups like Jewish Alliance for Change, Negev Coexistence Forum, and Rabbis for Human Rights, you helped to stop JNF demolitions and forestation over Al-Arakib and you can help stop this threat of more stolen land. Today and tomorrow, April 7th and 8th, call JNF headquarters at 212-879-9300 or your local JNF office on our joint call-in days with our partners from the Jewish Alliance for Change:

1) Tell them you’re outraged that JNF continues to plant and build on land stolen from Bedouin - even while they're fighting the theft of their land in Israeli courts.;
2) Tell them: Don’t send JNF bulldozers onto the land of the Abu-Freih family near Givot Bar, or any other Bedouin land in the Negev.
3) Call on JNF to announce a freeze on all home demolitions, development and
forestation on all Bedouin land, until a just solution is agreed upon with the Negev Bedouin community.
As we approach the holiday of Passover, we remember that Judaism teaches us to love our non-Jewish neighbors as we do ourselves - "do not wrong them" - "for you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt." Judaism teaches that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers. It is time to stand with our brothers and sisters in Al-Arakib once again.

Don't "Pass-Over" this letter

It is Passover, a time to recognize and celebrate our ability to live as a free people. Today, thousands of years after Moses led the Jews from Egypt, there is a new definition to freedom: living and thriving in the land of Israel. And you are making it happen.
You gave Elad Riven the freedom to pursue his dreams and be a fire scout.
You are freeing the 700 families who live in the Central Arava from drought with innovative solutions to Israel’s water crisis.
You have allowed thousands of children to play without fear in JNF’s Secure Indoor Recreation Center in Sderot.
You are giving access to Israel’s natural glory to the growing population of people with disabilities who can now enjoy parks and recreation areas.
If you missed our letter or are more comfortable donating online, click on any of the links above to learn more or donate here to make a designated contribution.
You have given freedom to the people who make Israel their home. Now, we ask for your help in continuing this vital work of Zionist freedom personified.