Monday, September 24, 2007

Swindle of the Century

"The Jewish National Fund is the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners - Jewish people everywhere." -- banner slogan from the JNF website.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) told the High Court on Monday that it was willing to reverse its practice of selling land to Jews only, on the condition it is compensated for land sold to non-Jews.
The decision comes in response to a petition against the JNF over its refusal to sell its lands to Arabs. The petition was filed in 2004 by a group of Arab Israeli citizens who were forbidden from bidding for land in the north put up for sale by the JNF. (YNET)
Under pressure from Israel's Supreme Court, the Jewish National Fund had announced it will sell parcels of the Land of Arabs.

The JNF, which collected millions of dollars to reclaim Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel for the Jewish people, on the condition that it was the caretaker of the land on behalf of it's owners, has sold out.

Wonderful. They will get "compensation" from the Israel Lands Authority...but the land is priceless. Our homeland is being sold to Arabs? Has the JNF no shame whatsoever?

Most Arab countries offer the death penalty to sell land to Jews, and here, Israel will simply valuate the land and sell it off.

Unfortunately, this once again proves that secular Zionism is quickly approaching idealogical bankruptcy -- not to mention moral corruption for having collected funds under false pretenses.

The Land of Israel is non negotiable. Period.

Update from Ben Chorin (see comments): The compensation that the JNF will receive from the Israel Lands Association will be "alternative" lands, there's no guarantee of equal value (and could very well be land of less value, desert, etc.)'s just unclear...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


YMedad said...

I have just been provided with the original Certificate of Amendment of the Certificate of Incorporation of the JNF in the USA from 1939 where in states moreover that the funds collected are "to be devoted to and expended in the purchase of land in Palestine and in promoting...general welfare of Jewish settles...and to aid, encourage and promote the development of Jewish lefe in Palestine".

If it was okay for democratic America, why not semi-democratic Israel?

Olah Chadasha said...

Well, the High Court of Israel sold its soul decades ago, why can't the JNF?

Mike Miller said...

I just wish they'd sell normal sized plots of land to Jews, instead of leasing tiny spaces (no, 1/2 a dunam is _not_ a large property...)

LT said...

Let me ask a question: Does this mean that prior to the JNF's recent decision, they wouldn't sell land to any non-Jews? Or just Arabs?

The status of Israeli non-Jews will always be problematic to Israel. If they are citizens of Israel, how can it be acceptable for an organization to refuse to sell them land? How would American Jews react if a U.S. company that was selling land said "we refuse to sell land to Jews"?

Of course, Israel cannot be a completely melting pot democracy like America if it is to remain a Jewish state (which it must). Nor can Israel become a tyrannical theocracy, like its neighbors. This is always going to be a challenging line to walk, an impossible balance to strike... and no issue will be as difficult as the status of non-Jews living in Israel.

I'm not saying I support the JNF's decision. In fact, anyone who's given money to them in the past has the right to feel outraged. I'm just saying this is a really tough and complicated situation all around.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

LT: Prior to this ruling, they would only sell land to Jews, exclusively.

However, before you beat me up for this supposedly racist comment; the Israel Lands Authority ALSO owns land in Israel, and is able to sell land to Jews and non-Jews alike.

The problem is that the JNF was created to buy land, specifically for Jews, reclaiming the homeland.

BTW: If a real estate company was founded in the US with the intent of only buying land and selling to Native Americans, would that be racist (or illegal?)

Shmilda said...

> BTW: If a real estate company was
> founded in the US with the intent
> of only buying land and selling to
> Native Americans, would that be
> racist (or illegal?)

Good question. And the answer is, it depends where you are on the right/left spectrum. (Where the Israeli judiciary stands is no secret.) Is affirmative discrimination against those who don't qualify, or is it ok because the beneficiaries claim oppression?

An orthodox leftist would explain that in the 1930's Jews were oppressed, so JNF was in the right, but now it is the Arabs who are oppressed so JNF is in the wrong.

Go figure.

LT said...

However, before you beat me up for this supposedly racist comment;

I intend to do no such thing.

This isn't (pardon the pun) a black-and-white issue. ;-)

Ben said...

This is an important issue so let me clarify a few of the fine points.

The Jewish National Fund (KKL) owns about 13% of the Land in Israel. According to its charter, its purpose is to acquire land in Israel for Jews. However, KKL lands are administered by the Israel Lands Authority, which, unlike KKL, is an organ of the state. This arrangement is recognized by a law that specifically stipulates that, despite the arrangement, KKL can continue to function according to its mandate.

After the Kaadan decision, the arrangement by which the ILA is involved in administering land that is not available to all citizens was obviously doomed. The obvious solution would be to separate the KKL and the ILA. However, KKL has been spoiled by this marriage of convenience and appears to be clueless about how to manage its own resources.

The state should have defended its own laws in court but, in fact, Mazuz refused to do so and sided with the plaintiffs.

What happened today is that the state and lawyers for KKL both asked for a postponement so that they could work out some permanent arrangement, the nature of which was not specified. In the meantime, for at least the next three months, they are continuing a temporary arrangement in which KKL's tenders are open to all. However, if a non-Jew wins, the land in question will be regarded as state land and the state will give KKL different land instead. Since Kaadan forbids the state from giving land to a different organization that will not sell to non-Jews, the land the state will give KKL will be land that is not for sale.

We are probably better off that ILA and KKL come to some permanent arrangement on their own. If the court decides this case, it might decide that ILA and KKL must part ways, which would be fine. But they might go further and rule that KKL itself has no right to sell only to Jews (a ruling advocated, for example, by yesterday's editorial in Haaretz).

It is against such a possibility that Bogi Yaalon and Yisrael Aumann and four others (including yours truly) appeared in court as respondents in the case, arguing that using KKL land for any purpose other than that which has been in its charter all these years would be to defraud its many donors.

The fact that KKL acts not only according to its charter but also according to law, and that the legal case against them has no basis in any legislation, doesn't even merit a mention. Israel's Supreme Court is above the law.

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