Tag archive for "JNF/KKL"

Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin

Photos: Sukkot at Bedouin village Um el Hiran

No Comments 11 October 2015

On October 1 2015, the residents of Um el Hiran, an “unrecognised” Bedouin village currently under the threat of forced displacement, hosted visitors for a special day during the Jewish harvest holiday of Sukkot. The day included children’s activities, a walk to bulldozers (where we of course saw the KKL/JNF flag), and parallel Muslim and Jewish prayer led by Rabbi Arik Asherman, president and senior rabbi of Rabbis for Human Rights. The prayer was attended by Muslim clerics and Christians, with the additional participation of Rabbi Mauricio Balter, a member of RHR. In attendance at the event were MKs Dov Khenin and Tamar Zandberg.

Based on the midrash that each of the four Sukkot species (etrog, lulav, hadass, aravah) represent a different type of person, and we bring them all together because each has a place and a role in society, we passed the four species representing the idea that all sectors of Israeli society must be brought together as equal citizens. Each person was asked to reflect on their vision of an Israeli society based on equality while holding the four species, and what they were prepared to do to bring it about. 



In the end of the event, there were addresses by public figures. Continue Reading

General, Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin

UPDATED: JNF bulldozers at Bedouin village of Awajan

1 Comment 12 May 2014

**Scroll down for update from May 14th 2014**

JNF-KKL bulldozers began work today on the lands belonging to the Bedouin village Awajan, south of the Bedouin township (recognized) of Lakiya. We are still trying to clarify whether this work is something more innocent like a road, or if the JNF is beginning the process of preparing the lands to build their next forest, thus forcing the Bedouin out of their village. Continue Reading


Two Demonstrations against Racist Land Policies

No Comments 01 May 2012

beit-hanina. pic by Moriel Rothman

On Friday, April 26th, over 100 Palestinians from Beit Hanina and other parts of East Jerusalem, along with Israeliand international activists, held a demonstration in front of the house which formerly belonged to the Natche family, who were evicted last week by the Israeli police at the bidding of extremist settler leader, Aryeh King. The house is now occupied by a number of King’s extremist Jewish settlers who based their claim, in part, off of legal documents from pre-1948. The legal details of the court are, in my mind, basically irrelevant, in that the very basis for the process is illegitimate: Unless Palestinians who have pre-1948 documents proving ownership of properties in, say, Ein Karem in West Jerusalem are able to take Jewish Israelis to court and to evict them from their houses, a law that allows Jewish Israelis to “take back” Palestinian properties in the middle of Palestinian neighborhoods, and to move in with guns, a fence, and police protection, is an explicitly racist and thus illegitimate law. As Martin Luther King quotedSt. Augustine, in his letter from aBirmingham jail

An unjust law is no law at all

The demonstration, which called for the Natche family to be returned to their home and for Israe lto cease its policies of eviction and settlement inEastJerusalem, was broken up forcefully by Israelipolice, who arrested one Israeliprotestor on site. Later, according to Palestinian sources, the Israelipolice returned later and detained a number of Palestinian youth, who they claimed “disturbed the peace” during the demonstration on Friday. The youth have since been released

Jewish settler: This land belongs to us

Jewish activist: This land doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to God

 On Sunday, April 28th, scores of Bedouins from the “unrecognized village” of Al-Arakib, along with Jewish Israeli supporters and organizations including Tarabut, Rabbis for Human Rights, the Negev Coexistence Forum and more, demonstrated outside of the JNF-KKL offices in downtown Jerusalem. This protest was, in general, against the JNF-KKL’s policy of destruction and dispossession of Bedouin families, and even entire villages, throughout the Negev, and specifically against the JNF-KKL’s recent actions in Al-Arakib, where, despite JNF promises to wait until the “issue had been resolved in court,” the JNF-KKL’s bulldozers recently resumed demolition work on land belonging to the Abu-Frikh family in Al-Arakib

There is no such thing as an “unrecognized village.” That is regime-lie

Despite the difference in location and in style of protest, the thread that united both of them was a joint Arab-Jewish call against racist Israeli housing and land policies, and the actions of dispossession and eviction carried out by various organizations, whether they be the explicitly racist settler organizations like Aryeh King’s Israel Land Fund, or organizations like the JNF that present a more “pleasant face” of tree planting, even as they are destroying villages in order to plant more trees

First published at Moriel’s Blog

General, Occupied Territories

In East Jerusalem, only Palestinian property seized as ‘Absentee’

4 Comments 07 March 2012

1950 law enabling transfer of Palestinian property to state continues to be basis for J’lem evictions (Photo: Activestills)

To this day, Palestinians are being legally evacuated from their properties in East Jerusalem due to the application of a racist 1950 Israeli law. Continue Reading

Parasha / E-Letter

Electricity in Danger – Newsletter of Parashat Ki Tissa

No Comments 06 March 2012

Purim in the streets of Jerusalem |  cc: wikipedia

Parashat “Ki Tissa”: The weekly report of Rabbis for Human Right

Despite the many protests, the solar electricity system of South Hebron Hill residents is in danger to be demolished without giving them any alternative (please read The Washington Post, the UN report and also on this site). Israel wants to take away the only infrastructure the Palestinian residents have. We congratulate adv. Adv. Beki Keshet-Cohen, who works with us in RHR and also the activists of the Liberated Beer Sheva for succeeding to stop the eviction of Lea Shemi from her public housing apartment. In addition As Purim is coming up we issued a public appeal to write us and try to solve the tension between the killing of Haman and family by the hands of the people who were saved from destruction. Happy Purim and Shabbat Shalom. Continue Reading

Parasha / E-Letter

The victory of Ovadia – Newsletter of Parashat T’tzave – Shabbat Zachor

No Comments 29 February 2012

After wining his battle with Amidar, Ovadya stops his hunger strike and eats a bureka. A picture from Hamaabara” web site.

Parashat “T’tzave”: The weekly report of Rabbis for Human Rights

In Prashat haShavua of Teruma, we asked for your help for Ovadia‘s struggle against Amidar. Due to the mutual struggle of all the social activists, Ovadia Ben-Avraham stopped his hunger strike. An agreement with Amidar was reached and the eviction order for February 27th was canceled. This is additional proof that the mutual action of the social group brings results. Shabbat Shalom. Continue Reading

General, Justice in Israel, Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin

The questions we grapple with on Shabbat Zachor

66 Comments 28 February 2012

“I want to connect those successes to the breastplate of the High Priest we read about in this week’s Torah portion and the questions we grapple with on Shabbat Zachor” | Breastplate (of High Priest) cc: wikipedi

Last week we celebrated two important, if partial successes, and I want to connect those successes to the breastplate of the High Priest we read about in this week’s Torah portion and the questions we grapple with on Shabbat Zachor. 

Firstly, The  JNF confirmed statements we have heard in recent weeks that they will not plant in areas in areas where there are legal disputes over land ownership.  This is only a partial success because much Bedouin land in the Negev has already been planted, it is not clear whether this is a general principle or only relates to four specific plots in El-Arakib, we aren’t sure if the commitment not to plant includes not preparing the land for planting, the Israel Lands Authority has made it clear that they still intend to plant, we can’t count on receiving justice in the Israeli court system, and the JNF/KKL has been unwilling to explain a brief but disturbing incident recently which seems to contradict this commitment.  Nevertheless, this is a significant change from their JNF/KKL Chairperson Efi Stenzler’s declaration at a meeting of the directorate this past summer that the planting on the remains of El-Arakib would take place at the end of this rainy season, even if Beer Sheva District Court Judge Nehama Netzer issued a non-binding request not to plant before the court rules on the ownership dispute.  (Unfortunately Judge Netzer recently again confirmed that her request is non binding, and that the State has a right to proceed.)  However, the right wing sees this minor victory as traitorous.

It was so wonderful to hear Ovadia say that he was again sleeping at night, and to celebrate with him on the very day he was to have been evicted

“It was so wonderful to hear Ovadia say that he was again sleeping at night, and to celebrate with him on the very day he was to have been evicted”. Photo: Hamabara

Secondly, Amidar cancelled the eviction of Ovadia and Miriam Ben-Avraham scheduled for this past Monday.  It was so wonderful to hear Ovadia say that he was again sleeping at night, and to celebrate with him on the very day he was to have been evicted.  In the words of The Book of Esther, the day was “Transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy.”  (Esther 9:22) .  Again, this was a partial success.  We have yet to deal with Ovadia and Miriam’s alleged debt, and many more evictions were scheduled this month in Jerusalem alone.   However, as we are taught in the Mishna, “One who saves a single life, it is as if one has saved an entire world.” (Sanhedrin 4)

As I reflect on these two events, I not only think about the importance of making a difference for a single family or saving a single dunam of land.  I also think about the breastplate to be worn by the High Priest, set with 12 stones. In this week’s Torah portion, Moses is commanded to make the breastplate as part of the vestments to be worn by Aaron in the  Miskhan, the portable Tabernacle housing the tablets with the ten commandments,  where Moses will speak with God, and where Aaron and his sons will serve God,  “The stones shall correspond to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, corresponding to their names. (Exodus 28:21)

I have always thought how wonderful it is that the High Priest serves God with all the tribes of Israel close to his heart.  Yes, Biblical scholars have made careers out of analyzing the blessings and the rebuke for each of the tribes which Jacob and Moses each utter before their deaths, and how they reflect the power struggles between the tribes.  However, in those most sacred moments when the High Priest would go into the inner sanctum of the desert Mishkan or the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem, each tribe had a place, and each was equally important.

In our world, we not only the twelve tribes must be close to our hearts.

The Bedouin of the unrecognized villages and those dependent on public housing are two of our forgotten tribes.  Sometimes these Israeli citizens are demonized and blamed for societies ills, but often they are simply ignored.  Who knows or cares that 30-45,000 Bedouin could be evicted from their homes if the Praver recommendations are adapted by the KnessetHow many people know or care that at least 40,000 people are on waiting lists for public housing and thousands in need are not even deemed eligible to be on the lists, while others dwell in homes in life threatening states of disrepair and hundreds are evicted every year?

In our Holy of Holies, every person counts, from Jerusalem to El-Arakib; from Tel Aviv to the South Hebron Hills.  From Hadera to Silwan; From the Azrieli towers to the fields of Jalud.

YouTube Preview Image

When I quote from the Book of Esther, I also reflect on the fact that exactly a year ago my daughter became a Bat Mitzvah on Parashat Zachor and Purim, bringing up for me all the difficulties of celebrating the mass killing of even our enemies, and the challenge presented by the idea that the Jewish people must wipe out the seed of Amalek in every generation.  I have always connected to the idea that we must battle, “Amelekiut,” the characteristics of attacking the weakest and most helpless members of our society and the use of eifah v’eifah (double standards). The Torah tells us that Amalek attacked the weak stragglers (Deut. 25:18). Because the verses from which the sages derive the prohibition against acting eifah v’eifah appears immediately before the mention of Amalek, Rashi teaches that  when we act eifah v’eifah, Amalek attacks. I see “Amalekiut” in how we treated the El-Arakib’s and the Ovadiahs in our society.  However, we know that the massacre by Barukh Goldstein on Purim is but one example of how our texts and our history can lead us to justify lashing out at real or perceived enemies, “Sweeping away the innocent with along with the guilty,” (Genesis 18:23), not to mention the fact that perhaps even the guilty could do teshuvah. We pray in the “Aleinu” prayer every day, we ask God to, “Turn to You all the evildoers of the earth.”

Stay tuned                                                                               

In the days leading up to Purim we will be asking both on our website and facebook how we honor our textual tradition and acknowledge our history of oppression without feeding an “Us against the world” mentality and the exploitation of our legitimate desire for security that justify the Baruch Goldsteins, Jewish exceptionalism and human rights violations.

On this Shabbat Tetzaveh and Zakhor, may we focus on purging the persecution of the weak and discriminatory double standards from our midst, thus rededicating ourselves to the building of a national Tabernacle of justice, and remembering to bring every human being into our “Mikdash Me’at”  the Holy of Holies in our hearts.

Shabbat Shalom,


General, Occupied Territories

Take Action: Tell the JNF not to Evict Palestinians from East Jerusalem

No Comments 23 February 2012

Jerusalem, Silwan – City of David | Silwan, map of the area, with indications of Israeli settler houses, Israeli excavation and tourist sites and other ‘development’ projects being carried out against the interests of the local Palestinian population. By Pieter Stockmans. cc: flickr

The Jewish National Fund in Israel (KKL-JNF) is best known for planting trees in Israel. We are proud of much of KKL-JNF’s work in growing and developing the modern State of Israel.

Unfortunately, over the last two decades KKL-JNF has also been amassing property seized from Palestinians in East Jerusalem, evicting families, and turning the property over to a settler organization with the express goal of Judaizing Palestinian neighborhoods. These evictions place facts on the ground that are roadblocks to peace.

Additional Background

Join us in urging the Jewish National Fund to issue a public statement that they will no longer engage in evictions. Our money and the money of other unsuspecting American donors should not be used to support actions that violate human rights and threaten the security and moral fabric of the State of Israel.

Note: You are encouraged to edit the subject line and personalize the body of the e-mail below

click here for the e-mail


New video release! Help stop the eviction of Palestinian Families from Silwan: A video and a call for action

No Comments 12 December 2011

Demonstration against house evictions, Silwan, East Jerusalem. 25.11.2011 | Photo by: Activestills.org

As a result of the campaign conducted by Solidarity and Rabbis for Human Rights, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) announced today that it would delay the expulsion of the Sumarin family in Silwan

In mid November, Solidarity and Rabbis for Human Rights conducted a campaign whose goal was to stop the expulsion of the Sumarin family from the house in which they have lived for over 50 years. On the 28th of November, the eviction order, signed by Himnuta, a subsidiary of the JNF, was supposed to come into force.

As published in Haaretz , the JNF announced, following the appeals made in our public campaign, that it would postpone the expulsion in order to return to dialogue with the family. Last week the courts decided to freeze the eviction order. Himnuta-JNF was given until the 18th of December to reply the court how it intends to proceed. We already proven that a campaign targeted towards the JNF is fruitful. Help us again to pressure JNF and to make the freezing of the expulsion order permanent.

This is the time to act: spread the video and write to the JNF board of directors:


Sample Letter:

Dear ___________ (select the appropriate email addresses for JNF
Board Members and International Representatives below),

My name is_____. Like many other individuals and organizations around the world, I am deeply concerned by the actions of KKL-JNF (and its subsidiary company Himanutah) in East Jerusalem.

I was happy to hear recently that KKL-JNF and Himanutah decided not to evict the Sumarin family from their house in Silwan, at least for the time being. I was both relieved for the family, and pleased that for now the family’s house will not be transferred to an extremist settler organization, as has happened in the past with properties owned by KKL-JNF/Himanutah. However, the threat of eviction, while temporarily frozen, still exists. This is still your responsibility because the Sumarin house is still controlled by the JNF-KKL via Himanutah.

The JNF-KKL is a United Nations NGO that does very important environmental and ecological work in Israel. I am hopeful that the JNF-KKL and its partners now understand that it is deeply improper for the JNF-KKL to take part in advancing a highly controversial and unjust political agenda centered around the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in Silwan and creating “facts on the ground.” By using the “Absentee Property Law” against non-Jews only, we are guilty of eifa v’eifa, double standards.  The home never should have been taken from the family, and for many years the Custodian for Absentee Property would at least award properties to family members who were living in homes taken under this law. For a brief period of time, Israel began to take inhabited properties, evict families and award them to settlers. However, following what was known as the Klugman Report (1992), a government commissioned report whose findings were sharply critical of the use of the Absentee Property Law in the East Jerusalem context, the State recognized that this policy was wrong and promised the Court to stop using it. In this case, a court has unfortunately ruled that the JNF-KKL/Himanutah may evict the family because, due to a misunderstanding, the family failed to put up a defense in 2005.

You now have the ability to right the wrong that started with the use of a law which should have never been used, continued when the Custodian failed to return the land to the family, and was capped by a miscarriage of justice when you exploited the fact that the family did not defend themselves in court in 2005.  Even then, the court never obligated Himanutah to evict the family. They simply permitted Himanutah to do so.

Now that the case is back in court, the JNF-KKL/Himanutah can go one step beyond freezing the eviction by acknowledging that Israel committed itself not to evict families via the Absentee Property Law, and by simply declining to fight the case further. You could even cooperate with a cancellation of the initial decision to declare the property as Absentee Property.

The choice between right and wrong is in your hands.

The effects are broader than this specific injustice: the settler organizations in East Jerusalem are acting to create an irreversible situation in the “Holy
Basin” that will eliminate any chance for co-existence in Jerusalem. In my eyes, if the Sumarin family is evicted, JNF-KKL/Himanutah, will become, de facto, an active partner to this frightening agenda.

I turn to you, in light of your influential role in the JNF, to ask you to put forward an official statement detailing the JNF’s intention to cancel all plans for the eviction of the Sumarin family, committing not to turn over the property to another body that might carry out the eviction, acknowledging the family as the rightful owners of the property, and announcing the cessation of Himanutah’s involvement in the purchasing properties over the green line and its cooperation with extremist settler organizations.



This was first published on the The Solidarity Movement

Parasha / E-Letter

Success in Meneizel | Our call reached the Finance Ministry | Dqeiqa is about to be demolished

No Comments 22 November 2011

In the poster: “On this Thursday we are going to protest in front of Israeli Finance Minister Mr.Yuval Shteinitz”

Parashat “Toldot”: The weekly report of Rabbis For Human Rights

There is good news that the government has temporarily frozen its intention to “dry up” contributions to progressive organizations from foreign governments, ignoring similar contributions to organizations across the spectrum from other sources. The Spanish Consulate received on oral commitment to temporarily freezing the demolition of  Meneizel’s solar electricity system. But the village of Dqeiqa is still under a threat of demolition and we need your help to spread the word. Together we can continue to bring light to the residents of South Hebron Hills. Continue Reading

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