JNF’s loss of half UK charity revenue good news for Palestinians

The JNF is involved in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the Naqab desert.

Wikipedia

A little over one week ago, the Jewish Chronicle led with a huge story about the UK branch of the Jewish National Fund: “JNF loses half its revenue,” the front page story said. Oddly enough, the story seems not to be available on the JC website. Pro-Palestinians activists have been sharing the story online via social networks.

The story will come as great news for the Stop the JNF campaign, whose progress I reported on in an EI feature published earlier this year.

The JC story says (emphasis mine):

According to its newly-published accounts, income from donations, legacies and investments fell from around £5.1 million in 2010 to just over £2.4 million last year.

The collapse in its income contrasts with the leading British Israel charity, the UJIA, which has experienced a far more modest 13 per cent fall in comparative income over the same period, from £14.3 million to £12.4 million.

It is four years since JNF UK’s chairman Samuel Hayek took over from Gail Seal as part of a deal to end a costly legal conflict with its Israeli associate Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL).

The dramatic fall in its revenues has been blamed on a perceived politicisation of the charity by Mr Hayek.

At the end of 2007, JNF UK posted an income of more than £8 million, but that yield has slid in successive years. In 2011, donations fell from nearly £2.6 million in 2010 to just over £1.5 million last year, and legacies from nearly £2.5 million to £832,000.

The article’s emphasis on the the larger United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) and its reliance elsewhere on an anonymous “senior communal figure” who claims that “the community no longer the sees the JNF, under its current leadership, as a credible receptacle for its charitable support for Israel” may indicate a certain agenda. In other words, it may well have been a UJIA PR rep who was behind this story (the Zionist Federation’s infamous oddball Jonathan Hoffman claims as much in a JC-hosted blog post).

JNF involved in Israeli ethnic cleansing

Regardless of whether intra-Zionist factional rivalry has a significant role to play, the figures don’t lie. Because the JNF is registered as a charity in the UK, the newly-published accounts mentioned in the JC article can be viewed on the Charity Commission’s website.

That the JNF has lost half of its revenue from charitable donations will come as welcome news to the JNF’s victims in Palestine. Only last week Budour Hassan reported exclusively for EI that JNF officials, accompanied Israeli forces, had served four house demolition orders on Palestinian bedouin citizens in the Naqab desert (aka Negev).

The JNF is widely implicatied in Israeli acts of ethnic cleansing, including in the multiple demolition of the “unrecognized” Naqab village of al-Araqib. It has quasi-governmental status in Israel, and describes itself on its website as “the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners — Jewish people everywhere”.

After Israel was established in 1948, the JNF purchased expropriated Palestinian land from the state, and since then has played a key role in an exclusionary land regime that systematically discriminates against Palestinians.

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He first visited Palestine in 2004.