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February 3, 2012 12:57 pm

Planting Trees is Racist?!

avatar by Steven Emerson

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An international campaign wants to stop a non-profit environmental organization that has been functioning for more than 100 years by purporting fallacies and anti-Israel propaganda.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) was established with the hope to help the birth of the State of Israel. JNF plants trees for forest development in Israel, creates parks, battles forest fires, is responsible for soil conservation, pioneers innovative solutions to help Israel’s water supply, among other notable work.

The “Stop the JNF Campaignalleges that the Jewish National Fund “was instrumental in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in the 1948 Nakba, and continues to play a central role in maintaining Israel’s regime of apartheid.” It calls for the revocation of JNF’s charity and to isolate the group by breaking all ties with it.

The campaign posted an action alert on its website Friday asking its readers not to support JNF’s “Green Sunday” on Feb. 5. “Don’t be taken in,” the alert reads. “The JNF’s tree planting is a cover for ethnic cleansing.”

Despite its shrill and nonsensical premise, the “Stop the JNF Campaign” has garnered support from organizations across the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries around the world. It also has spread to American and Canadian college campuses.

Vilifying labels such as “ethnic cleansing” and “regime of apartheid” are used by anti-Israel activists to demonize the State of Israel. Hebrew University Professor Emeritus Gideon Shimoni has explained that the false equation between Israel and apartheid in South Africa is a “deceptive device [which] functions much like use of the term ‘holocaust’ to describe any and all human disasters. It obscures apartheid’s constitutive core, racism, as well as its actual historical context, South Africa.”

The false notion that Israel engaged in “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians cheapens actual cases of ethnic cleansing, including the Bosnian genocide committed by Bosnian Serbs, the ethnic cleansing of Armenians during World War I, Nazi Germany’s persecutions and expulsions of Jews which culminated into the Holocaust, the Sudanese campaign against black ethnic groups in Darfur, among many other examples.

A look at the founders of the Stop the JNF Campaign helps explain its outrageous agenda. It was started by the Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), the Scottish Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) and the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

IJAN is a radical organization that advocates the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. The organization was a sponsor of last year’s “Never Again For Anyone” tour across the U.S. and in Toronto, Canada, which featured speakers who equated Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to that of the Nazis’ treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.

The Scottish Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) is a fringe anti-Israel organization that repeatedly uses the Holocaust to demonize Israel and has served as a platform for Holocaust deniers and Hamas supporters. The chairman of SPSC, Mick Napier, tried to justify a horrific terrorist attack in Israel by spewing lies about the school that was targeted and writing, “Palestinians continue to resist and we should be inspired by their courage, fortitude and endurance against an enemy that threatens them openly with a ‘Holocaust’.” In March 2008, a terrorist entered the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem and opened fire, killing eight students and wounding nine more. The massacre was praised by Hamas and supported by 84% of Palestinians, according to a poll taken shortly after.

BNC is the Palestinian coordinating body for the worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. BDS is a worldwide initiative to encourage companies, consumers, universities, cultural centers and more to boycott and divest from all Israeli interests and bodies. On college campuses, BDS often takes the form of student groups and professors pushing for universities to divest from companies that have holdings with Israel or do business with Israel.

The Stop the JNF Campaign is one initiative of the worldwide BDS campaign. Its launch last March was announced on the BDS website. BDS leaders, such as Omar Barghouti, single out Israel, apply double standards to the state, and often use the “apartheid” myth and false “ethnic cleansing” charge.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Bard criticized “the constant barrage of rhetorical demonization, double standards and delegitimization” of Israel as the “new anti-Semitism” on Monday during a conference in Israel. “Harnessing disparate anti- Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so,” he added. “We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is.”

Last July, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd visited an Israeli-owned business in Melbourne after it was attacked by demonstrators. “I don’t think in 21st-century Australia there is a place for the attempted boycott of a Jewish business,” Rudd said. “I thought we had learned that from history,” he added.

Unfortunately, the BDS campaign is gaining ground among youth in the United States. This weekend, the 2012 National BDS Conference will be held at the University of Pennsylvania. The conference is organized by PennBDS, a recognized student group at the University. The university is not sanctioning nor sponsoring the conference.

BDS tactics have not achieved many practical results, and seem more symbolic in nature. This holds true for the Stop the JNF Campaign. Just last week Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection in cooperation with the Jewish National Fund held an international conference on Climate Change & Forest Fires in the Mediterranean Basin: Management & Risk Reduction. The conference drew approximately 150 participants including lecturers and guests from Jordan, Kosovo, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Canada and the U.S. Additionally, JNF maintains partnerships with government and professional organizations in the United States, Egypt and Jordan.

If planting trees has become an act of evil, it may be time to re-evaluate your thinking.

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  • Dick Pitt

    In a debate we should attempt to find the truth. It doesn’t help when Stanley talks of verbal bombs of lies. I have been to Al Araqib – it is being ethnically cleansed by the Israeli state. Is he saying that is not true?

    Emerson asserts that Israel did not ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. Does he also challenge the fact that the Israeli state demolished 500 Palestinian towns and villages, take the land and prevent the Palestinians returning to their homeland?

  • Kernod Wel

    Planting trees on land that was the home and livelihood of the Bedouin of Al Arkib after they were expelled from it for the sole crime of being Arab is racist.

    More generally, the JNF is one of the main instruments used by the state of Israel to provide cover to its acts of racist land distribution. The state cannot legally discriminate in land distribution so it passes the land to the ownership of the JNF which is not allowed, in its charter, to lease it to Arabs. Thus the JNF is a willing accomplice in the dispossession of Palestinians and in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

    • Stanley

      Wel’s tossing out of verbal bombs of lies are exactly the kind of activities the article is referring to. Wel knows that if you repeat a big lie long enough, some gullible people will believe it. Starting with himself.

  • An Early Day Motion welcoming the Stop the JNF Campaign, tabled by UK Parliamentarians Jeremy Corbyn & Sir Gerald Kaufman, has gained the support of 61 MPs. Every word is true – the only change has been that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has since resigned from his patronage of the JNF: the Jewish Chronicle reported that this was the first time ever that a Prime Minister has not been a patron. Full text of the EDM below. For more information see

    That this House welcomes the Stop the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Campaign launched on 30 March 2011 by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others to inform the public about the JNF – Karen Kayemet L’Yisrael, its ongoing illegal expropriation of Palestinian land, concealing of destroyed Palestinian villages beneath parks and forests, and prevention of refugees from returning to their homes; notes that the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews; further notes that the UN rejected the JNF USA’s application for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council on the ground that it violates the principles of the UN Charter on Human Rights; regrets that the Prime Minister is a JNF honorary patron; and believes that there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF’s charitable status in the UK.

    • A REAL American

      I love when Palestinian apologists crawl out from under the rocks they are hiding and begin to quote bogus legal claims against Israel that have no basis in reality.


      Murdering Jews is illegal.

      Engaging in Pogroms to drive the Jews out of Jerusalem and Hevron is illegal.

      Invading a UN recognized state immediately after its creation in 1948 is illegal.

      Allowing terrorists uses of your territory (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon) to launch attacks against civilian targets is illegal.

      Appropriating Jewish land is illegal.

      Ethnically cleansing Jews from Jerusalem following the Jordanian invasion is illegal.

      Destroying Jewish holy cites under Arab/Palestinian occupation is illegal.

      Firing 10’s of thousands of rockets at civilian targets in Israel is illegal.

      Engaging in armed conflict while hiding behind a civilian population in the West Bank and Gaza is illegal

      If you want to discuss illegality, all you need to do is look at every single thing the Arabs have done in and to the Land of Israel since the early 1900’s. Not a single claim they make has any validity in law and most reveal their own illegal activities.