AJDS Statement on JNF Annual Dinner

On Thursday 15 October, the JNF Annual Dinner is being held, this year featuring two speakers: Nir Barkat, the Mayor of Jerusalem, via video link up, and Judy Feld Carr CM. While there is broad community support for the JNF within the Melbourne Jewish community, this kind of support is troubling. As Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat has been instrumental in pursuing the Judaizing of Jerusalem. While Jerusalem contains Israelis, Jews, Palestinians and others, Barkat has worked tirelessly to try to erase Palestinian presence within the city. He has ensured that East Jerusalem does not have the same support, finances, or regard as West Jerusalem. This can be seen in many different ways:
  • The fact that in West Jerusalem there are 26 maternal and child health clinics, while in East Jerusalem there are six; [1]
  • That Egged buses – the main bus company in Israel – do not go into East Jerusalem;[2]
  • That Jewish settlers regularly take over the homes of Palestinians in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods such as Silwan, forcing them out in the middle of the night;[3]
  • That the ‘City of ’, which is built on Palestinian land, has been given increasing support by the government in order to further the narrative of Jewish dominance of the whole city;[4]
  • That city planning has meant that at the beginning of the last school year, there was a shortage of 408 regular classrooms and 330 kindergarten classrooms in East Jerusalem, while at the same time Barkat has supported the construction of an IDF staff college in A-Tur and a yeshiva in Sheikh Jarrah, both Palestinian neighbourhoods.[5]
In recent weeks, there has been an explosion of violence in Jerusalem, as Jewish settlers in Silwan have taken  over a building and sprayed Palestinians with pepper spray; the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif was alternately closed to Palestinians, stormed by Israeli forces with the Al-Aqsa Mosque being severely damaged and numerous Palestinians seriously wounded.Israeli police have attacked twelve Palestinian journalists in the Old City; and settlers have continued to wreak havoc throughout the Old City and East Jerusalem. All of this is encouraged to continue by the Mayor. This is well known. It is worth noting that Judy Feld Carr has publicly supported the Jewish Defence League,[7] a militant anti-Arab organisation founded by Meir Kahane in the United States, whose sister movements in Israel – Kach and Kahane Chai – were outlawed in Israel in 1994 as terrorist organisations which pose a threat to state security.  In supporting such an organisation Feld lends support to the violent extremism growing in the right and to the explosions of virulently racist attacks in passing weeks. It is crucial that that we speak openly of what our money is going to: what ultimately destructive activities and politics are being propped up.  As a community who seeks to pride itself on debate and discussion, this is something that needs to be talked about. The AJDS encourages people to think about what they are supporting when they attend the Annual Dinner or give money to the JNF.  If your purpose is to support Israel – what kind of Israel are you supporting? What can you do instead to ensure that you are supporting a just peace? By hosting these speakers the JNF is exposing its visions for Israel as much the same way it has historically functioned, in dispossession of Palestinian land and erasing of Palestinian history.  Neither of these things will bring Israel any closer to peace. We encourage you to find out more information at whatsbehindjnf.org. [1] http://972mag.com/how-jerusalem-makes-palestinians-disappear/107037/ [2] http://972mag.com/how-jerusalem-makes-palestinians-disappear/107037/ [3] http://972mag.com/settlers-take-over-7-e-jerusalem-homes-in-dead-of-night/97167/ [4] http://thelefternwall.com/2014/02/06/10-reasons-you-should-never-visit-the-city-of-david-again/ [5] http://972mag.com/in-jlem-thousands-of-palestinian-students-have-no-classrooms/96676/ [6] http://www.allthatsleftcollective.com/blog/2015/9/16/the-occupation-didnt-take-a-break-for-rosh-hashanah [7] http://www.cjnews.com/letters/week-sept-4
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About the author : Larry Stillman

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