By MYRON LOVE
The Jewish National Fund is the modern world’s first environmental movement. Over more than 100 years in operation, the JNF has performed miracles in Israel in terms of greening land than was once desert.
The JNF and Israel are world leaders in protecting and enhancing the environment not just in Israel but worldwide. In Israel, the JNF helps to build important projects that benefit all residents – Jewish, Muslim, and Christian - and not just where forestry is involved. Recent projects have included supporting a shelter for abused women, a PTSD Centre, recreation areas at a variety of hospitals, playgrounds for special needs children and much more.
Despite all of that, the Green Party of Canada is considering a resolution to ask the Government of Canada to lift the JNF’s charitable status because somehow the “JNF is helping to oppress the Palestinians”. “The GREEN PARTY is attacking an environmental group? And to her shame, the resolution is being proposed by one Corey Levine, a Jewish writer, commentator and “human rights consultant’ who lives in Victoria.
Levine’s resolution was co-sponsored by former Winnipegger Dr. Adrian Fine - who also now lives in Victoria – and Green Party leader and Member of Parliament Elizabeth May (along with 27 others).
First of all, who is Corey Levine? Levine is a member of the anti-Israel Independent Jewish Voices. As with many politically active anti-Israel Jews who seem to know very little about Judaism or Israel, Levine sees “Tikkun Olam”, saving the world, as the essence of what it means to be Jewish. She has written on the Huffington Post that “Tikkun olam has always been a large part of my identity, being Jewish much less so. Still, I have always enjoyed the rituals of my heritage, particularly Passover, which celebrates the emancipation of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt. I saw it as a fable for modern day liberation movements, including the Palestinian people’s own struggle for a homeland”.
She has also written that “it was only after spending three months working in the West Bank and seeing the occupation first-hand that I knew I could no longer sit silently while Palestinians are harshly subjugated, ostensibly for the safety and security of Jews”. Three months makes her an expert?
I guess she doesn’t know about the murderous attacks on Israelis during the so-called Second Intifada, the rain of tens of thousands of missiles on Israel from Gaza, the constant efforts of Palestinians from the Palestinian areas to murder Jews in Israel and the incessant calls from Palestinian religious and political leaders to kill Jews.
As to the specific allegations behind the resolutions, one is that the Jewish National Fund discriminates by only selling land to Jews, not to non-Jews. That is pure ignorance. The JNF doesn’t sell land to anyone. The JNF doesn’t own any land. Almost all land in Israel is owned by the State of Israel and is leased, never sold.
A second allegation is that the JNF “is complicit in the continued dispossession of Palestinians from their lands by creating forests and parks on this land in the name of ‘environmentalism’” followed by a charge that the JNF’s Ayalon Canada Park is built in part over the ruins of three Arab villages that were demolished for security reasons after the 1967 war.
What is missing here is context. The villages that were demolished were villages overlooking the road to Jerusalem and were destroyed for security and military reasons. It wasn’t just a whim on the part of the Israelis or a case of oppressing Palestinians. For 19 years, those villages had posed a danger to Jews traveling to and from Jerusalem, which was nearly surrounded by hostile Arab territory.
Further, the residents were offered compensation just as when Canadian governments expropriate private properties.
As for the allegation that the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights has charged the JNF with practicing institutional discrimination against non-Jewish citizens of Israel, that is a lie. Anyone with any sense of understanding should be able to see that the United Nations and its member agencies lack any credibility when it comes to Israel because Israel is held to a standard and scrutiny that is applied to no other country in the world. At the United Nations, almost any charge – no matter how far-fetched - that the PA brings against Israel is given serious consideration.
Would Corey Levine also agree with Mahmoud Abbas that Israel poisons the Palestinian water supply?
As for Elizabeth May, who has been a supporter of the JNF, she should know better.
In an article written by Paul Lungen in the July 14 issue of the Canadian Jewish News, May says that she supported the introduction of the resolution against the JNF because “she had heard from a Palestinian former resident of one of three villages that were destroyed and are now part of the JNF’s Ayalon Canada Park.”
Why would she, the party leader, an MP with good relations with the JNF, jump to the wrong conclusion based on the words of one individual? Did she know this fellow? Did she investigate the issue to see if he was credible before signing on to the resolution? If she is that gullible, should she be a party leader, let alone a Member of Parliament?
Fortunately, the JNF, as reported by Lungen, has been in touch with May and she seems to have seen the error in her thinking. Lungen quotes May as saying that “if perchance the resolution on the JNF is green-lighted, she would bring an emergency resolution to be debated again, to correct errors in the existing resolution that (JNF Canada CEO Josh) Cooper brought to her attention”.
JNF is legitimate fair game
By BERNIE BELLAN
I admit I have an advantage in allowing myself to respond to submissions to this paper in the same issue where you can read those submissions. It always confers upon me the “last word”, so to speak.
So - when I read Myron Love’s angry denunciation of the Green Party (which is in the next column) and especially Jewish co-sponsors of a resolution criticizing the JNF, I wanted to respond - not because I necessarily disagree with Myron, but because I reject his criticism of two individuals who are Jewish for their being associated with criticism of the JNF.
Just as in the letters section on page 6 I reject the notion that a Muslim who criticizes fellow Muslims - as in the case of Sun columnist Tarek Fatah or formerly Winnipeg-based Kasim Hafeez, who was employed by B’nai Brith for a while, are on “the fringe of the fringe”, as letter writer Jon Bitton accuses them of being, I also reject the notion that Jews who belong to Independent Jewish Voices are unjustified when they criticize as venerated an institution as the Jewish National Fund.
I’m not quite sure what to make of the accusations centering around the way in which Canada Park in Israel was built by the JNF. Frankly, despite Myron’s attempt to discredit any suggestion that the building of that park may have been connected to some less than savoury circumstances, including the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, I, for one, am willing to listen to the charges being leveled against the JNF by Independent Jewish Voices.
I strongly object to IJV’s long-standing support for the BDS movement - not because I support Israeli settlements on the West Bank, but because singling out Israel for targeting is hypocritical when there are so many other countries that are guilty of far worse offences than whatever Israel may be guilty of. This is not to condone the building of Israeli settlements on the West Bank; far from it.
As I note in my report on the talk given by Sondra Boras, who is a staunch defender of settlements, I refrained from commenting in my report whether or not I agreed with what she had to say.
Frankly, I disagree with much of what she had to say. I place little stock in the notion that the “People of Israel” have some historical claim to the “Biblical Land of Israel”. Whether or not we like how the UN has treated Israel in the past, Israel’s existence is predicated upon a vote of the United Nations in 1948. At the time, Israel’s leaders were willing to compromise on the question of borders and, while it is true that no Arab country was willing to accept Israel’s existence, that does not detract from the fact that the only internationally recognized borders defining Israel’s legally held territory were those stipulated in the partition resolution of 1947 adopted by a majority vote of the UN.
Whatever Ms. Boras may have had to say about how wonderful the communities are that settlers have established in what she refers to as “Judea and Samaria”, those communities are all illegal according to international law.
She is correct in saying though that Israeli withdrawal from those settlements would not only likely be disastrous, not only for Israel, but for the Palestinians themselves, but that doesn’t alter the essential illegal nature of those settlements.
What I found particularly distasteful in Ms. Boras’s remarks moreover, was her wholesale rejection of what she referred to as the “State of Tel Aviv” mentality which, she said, is typified by Haaretz newspaper.
I find it more than ironic, however, that Jews can be quite comfortable in criticizing fellow Jews - either for holding views that are either too right wing or too left wing, depending on your perspective.
But, when a Muslim such as Tareq Fatah or Kasim Hafeez dares to criticize fellow Muslims for their reluctance to speak openly about the problems presented by “radical Islam”, Jews actually join in denouncing them as well.