Dear Ian Karet, Chair of the Charity Commission,
We write regarding the regulatory case opened into the Jewish National Fund Charitable Trust (JNF UK), Charity No. 225910.
While the investigation was seemingly triggered by the deeply Islamophobic and racist comments of members of the charity’s board, it can’t end there – because the foundations and ongoing activities of the organisation are rooted in anti-Palestinian racism.
The JNF is integral to the state of Israel’s displacement and systematic abuses of the human rights of Palestinians.
Right now, JNF UK’s Israeli parent institution, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), is razing Palestinian land and demolishing homes and property in the Naqab, to plant forests over the area. This activity is part of Israel’s attempt to forcibly displace Palestinians living in the Naqab. In 2019, six UN Special Rapporteurs issued a joint letter raising serious concern over Israeli plans to forcibly displace 36,000 Palestinians living in the Naqab.
JNF UK invests in a variety of projects in the Naqab, as its website reveals. Palestinians have organised protests and strikes in resistance to their expulsion. They have been met with brutal violence by armed Israeli forces. JNF UK invests in many projects in the Naqab. In their descriptions of the projects, JNF UK erases the Palestinian presence in the Naqab, describing the area as “largely unpopulated” and “politically uncomplicated.”
The KKL-JNF, through its subsidiary Himanuta, is also using the discriminatory Israeli legal system to expel Palestinian residents of illegally occupied East Jerusalem, including the Sumarin family of Silwan. While the KKL-JNF and other settler organisations dispossess Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israel approves and finances the construction of illegal Jewish-only settlements, which have made life for Palestinians increasingly unbearable. Settlements in occupied territory are against UK policy, and illegal according to international law, amounting to a war crime.
The displacement of Palestinians across their historic homeland has been identified by Human Rights Watch as one element of the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.
Last year, the KKL-JNF announced its intention to openly acquire Palestinian land in the occupied Palestinian territory, abandoning its use of subsidiaries for this purpose.
In addition, JNF UK supports the military repression of Palestinians. It donated to the “Gaza war effort” in 2014 and funds military projects with serving Israeli military personnel. The UN Commission of Enquiry found credible evidence Israel had committed war crimes in its aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza in 2014.
These activities violate the basic rights of the Palestinian people. Organisations involved in human rights abuses must be held accountable.
As a first step, the investigation must result in JNF UK’s charitable status being revoked.