The Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Canada is holding its annual Negev Dinner at Canada’s Museum of Civilization on 24 November 2008. Canadians trust that the incumbent president/CEO and board of the museum will faithfully safeguard and honor the museum’s guiding principles for its choice of activities — i.e. “that activities are informed by respect” and “that we will not engage in activities or present materials which may promote intolerance.”
In hosting the JNF event, the Museum of Civilization is violating principles which it is charged with safeguarding on behalf of all Canadians. Approximately 500,000 out of almost 625,000 acres owned by the JNF were confiscated from Palestinians fleeing war in 1948, and were not purchased with contributions from Jews around the world, as the JNF commonly claims. During 1948-53, the Israeli state transferred ownership of this land to the JNF for the sole use of Jews — as per the JNF’s governing articles — without any compensation to its rightful Palestinian owners. This confiscation violates international law and is an ongoing source of grievance inside Israel amongst its Palestinian citizens and amongst Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states.
In Israel, this “redemption of land” (which in fact is the appropriation of Palestinian land and its “transfer” to Israeli Jews) is ongoing in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, occupied by Israeli forces since 1967. The so-called “Canada Park,” which is maintained through JNF-Canada contributions, is built on the site of three Palestinian villages captured in 1967, which were evacuated and razed to the ground. Forcible transfer of civilians and extensive destruction and appropriation of property in occupied territory are war crimes amounting to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, international legal codes adopted after World War II in recognition that maltreatment and atrocities against civilians in wartime should never happen again.
The Canadian government has consistently called for restoration and promotion of rule of law at home and abroad. The museum, as an institution of the government, has an obligation to uphold this principle. Moreover, in providing space to the JNF, the museum is in violation of its own principle to promote Canada’s fundamental “commitment to democracy in its political and social sense.”
Canada’s Museum of Civilization is part of Canadians’ acknowledgement and atonement for the colonial ethnic cleansing of First Peoples. By providing space for the JNF’s Negev Dinner, the museum is aiding and abetting ethnic cleansing in Palestine and facilitating the celebration of these actions next to the exhibit of aboriginal culture in the Museum’s Great Hall. This discredits our nation’s understanding of its own egregious colonial past and raises questions about the sincerity of our apologies to aboriginal peoples in Canada.
Take action to demand that the museum’s CEO, Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, honor the Museum’s Guiding Principles and the apology made to Canada’s aboriginal peoples and that he rescind the museum’s agreement to provide space to the JNF for its Negev Dinner.
Calls and letters of protest can be made to the museum’s president and CEO, Dr. Victor Rabinovitch at (819) 776-7116, firstname.lastname@example.org.