Israeli newspaper Haaretz is currently circulating this email. Subscribe to the paper’s digital edition during an upcoming Jewish holiday season and you will be helping the work of the Jewish National Fund, it promises.
The English edition of the liberal Zionist paper has a global reputation and is read and trusted by many Palestinian rights activists, who often look forward to the work of dissident journalists like Amira Hass and Gideon Levy.
Recently the paper put its English edition behind a paywall, requiring a subscription to read articles. But this link-up with the JNF is a new reason to make you think twice before handing over your money to Haaretz.
The ad promises that for each new subscriber to Haaretz, the JNF will plant a tree in the Carmel forests (in the vicinity of Haifa) to help replace those that were burnt down in huge 2010 forest fires.
But as Max Blumenthal wrote for The Electronic Intifada at the time, many of these trees were planted on the ruins of destroyed Palestinian villages – deliberately so in order to cover up Israeli crimes.
After 1948, when Zionist militias drove out 750,000 Palestinians by force, the new state of Israel destroyed hundreds of their villages hoping to ensure the Palestinian refugees could not return. In many cases, the JNF planted trees on the ruins.
Palestinians and their supporters have protested against the JNF with a group called Stop the JNF making some headway in the UK, for example.
Operating as a registered charity in many countries, the JNF is a long-standing Zionist institution with quasi-governmental status and authority over land in Israel – which it holds in trust for Jews only.
As well as a long history of planning for and implementing the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, stretching back to even before the 1948 Nakba, it’s also linked to more contemporary expulsions.
In the Naqab, it is involved in projects to “Judaize” the southern desert – known as the Negev in Hebrew. Palestinian Bedouin communities are being compelled to move into American Indian style reservations dubbed “development towns.”
The “unrecognized” village of al-Araqib, for example, has reportedly been destroyed by Israel and rebuilt more than 40 times since 2010.
In October 2012, Budour Hassan reported for The Electronic Intifada that JNF representatives raided the 5,000-strong town of Bir Hadaj (which is ostensibly “recognized”) alongside the interior ministry, handing out demolition orders. When local youths protested, police invaded, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and some live ammunition.
But globally, the JNF promotes itself as a “ecological” charity, playing down its involvement in these abuses against Palestinians. Haaretz focuses on this greenwashing narrative.
With thanks to Jonathan Cook for drawing attention to this email.