Friday, July 02, 2010

Replant a Forest (Public Service Message)

This past Tuesday, June 29, over 300,000 trees (yes, 300,000, not 30,000 like some papers are mistakenly reporting) burned down near Beit Shemesh and other places throughout the country including in the Galilee, Rosh Haayin, Tzur Hadassah, Motza, Nof Carmel, to name a few. The Jerusalem Post has a pretty comprehensive list posted.

The police suspect arson/terror in at least some of the cases. JNF chairman Eli Stenzler is calling it 'Ecological Terrorism".

Some 750 acres of forest are now gone. Natural animal habitats have been destroyed. It's the largest fire in Israel in years. It's going to take a year just to clean up the damage, and years to restore the forests.

4 firemen were injured battling the fire.

What can you do?

The JNF needs to raise $1,000,000 to restore the forests. (Link fixed)

If you click on the link you can donate and see how much they've raised so far.

Israel is the only country in the world that completes each year with more trees than it started off with. It would be a shame for 2010 to be any different.

Over 300,000 trees burned down in Israel on June 29...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Anonymous said...

You might want to check into the value of the JNF's holdings (billions) and the value of the service it provides the Jewish people apart from its pensioners and bureaucrats (insignificant) before you ask people to donate money.

JoeSettler said...

JNF owns lands which has been bought for the Jewish people (obviously there mission has changed since the State was founded). But among their major activities is planting and maintaining the forests of Israel, community development and water conservation projects.

Just because they own lots of land (in which they plant forests and build parks for all of us to enjoy and benefit from), does not mean that planting and maintaining forests doesn't cost money.

But since you are making (anonymous) accusations, I decided to look up some facts.

As you can see from their 2009 annual report (p.12-13), the JNF had $51M in revenue in 2009 ($37M in direct contributions, and the rest from investments, bequests and other sources). $37M was spent in direct project funding, and an additional $7M went to support services and (of which, only $3M to) management to provide those services and to raise additional donations.

Excluding their land holdings, all together the JNF has $100M in assets which includes long term investments (from which they collect interest) and donation money (which gets spent over time).

From what I can see, when effectively 100% of individual contributions are directly going to projects and not management or pensions, that's a good donation.

JNF donations can be specifically earmarked for specific projects.

So the next time you drive through Israel, you should thank the JNF for all the forests they plant and maintain throughout the country, instead of making baseless accusations.

And yes. When 300,000 trees are burnt down all over Israel (that the JNF planted), and the JNF wants to replant all those tree, I think it's a good idea to help.

Akiva said...

Living in the Beit Shemesh area which has had fire after fire (rather than ecological terrorism many of them have begun from bored children with lighters), lets note we're not talking about denuded hills here. Rather, there's been a series of spot fires which the fire department has done a remarkable job of containing in not-overly-large burn areas.

Now the number of these patches is growing as there's fires every few days. We've had very unusually early high heat dry days which has parched the undergrowth.

But we're NOT talking about burned down forests. We're talking about a blocks of burn here and there. And I would hope the forests are at the point of being self-recovering for those types of injuries. For pictures of such a fire, click here.

Not dissing the JNF, they do great work and truly the hills are forested because of them, and you can clearly see exactly where they stopped as those hills are nude of substantial foliage. But people shouldn't get the impression all the forests have burned down, they haven't.

Anonymous said...

Where's they say all the forests have burned down? They said 300,000 trees across the country in one day.

Anonymous said...

Yes, JNF took in 50M and spent nearly that much in projects. But they are a bit like a schnorrer with a million dollars in a non-interest bearing savings account asking you for a dollar for lunch. JNF holds 2.5 million dunams of land, ostensibly on behalf of the Jewish people. The value of this land is in the high billions. Why isn't there more income from that land? How is their holding that land benefiting the Jewish people for whom they are ostensibly holding it? Since they are not contesting the petition to Bagatz that contests their right to hold reserves for Jews, what justifies their holding it at all? Do you know that the JNF has set aside 2.5 billion (not a typo) shekalim worth of land and cash for its pensioners? You should check this out more carefully. There is more to this story than you think.

JoeSettler said...

To begin with I can't find any reference to your pension related remarks, so if you have anything substantial, please provide links to back up your statements.

Second, if anything I would say the problems with the JNF and use (or non-use) of their land for profit stems from something other than maliciousness and abuse as you seem to imply.

This is only speculation on my part, but I see an organization that has a mandate to acquire land for the Jewish people and at worst doesn't know what to do with it because (a) perhaps the mandate doesn't make it 100% clear (or legal) what they can do in terms of profiting from the land, (b) fear of making permanent commitments/usage on the land, that would affect their responsibility to future generations, (c) lack of creative thought in an institutionalized organization on how to profit from their land resources.

Having said all that, there is a new board member at the JNF - Uri Bank (#4 on the Ichud Leumi list). You can find him on facebook, and I would imagine that he can be quite the contrarian if need be. If you feel you have legitimate concerns, he might be the right address to bring them up with.

Anonymous said...,7340,L-3102147,00.html

Uri is well aware of these issues.

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