The Finnish “World Village festival emphasizing the environment has banned the participation of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the largest environmental organization in Israel. The Finnish government feigned it was powerless to interfere in the boycott and told the Israeli Ambassador to Helsinki that it has no say in the matter because the “Maailma Kylässä” festival is a “private event.”
Dan Ashbel, the Israeli ambassador to Finland, said:
I wonder how this scandalous decision is consistent with values such as eco-friendliness, fairness, tolerance, and the desire for peace. I wonder if the rest of the organizations in the festival are required to stand up to the same criteria.”
However, the Finnish government’s security forces were able to convince the World Village to ban the Freedom of Speech village, warning that an exhibition supporting the freedom of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine to publish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed might cause violence.
The JNF has planted 240 million trees since 1901, and Israel is one of only two countries in the world that registered a net increase in the number of trees at the beginning of the 21st century.
It can be assumed that the organizers do the World Village were celebrating Boycott Israel when deciding to ban the JNF, which also has donated 3,000 trees to the Palestinian Authority for its new city of Rawabi north of Ramallah.
The World Village organizers figure that the environment is better off without a pro-environment organization, which is Jewish, and without a free speech environment that might upset Muslims.
In his OpEd “The Two Israels,” (NY Times, March 1, 2015) Nicholas Kristof made a rather broad accusation stating that Jewish National Fund plants forests on land owned by Bedouin Arabs. Unfortunately, Mr. Kristof chose to subscribe to the BDS diatribe against Israel and used JNF as a straw man to do so. We take exception to such reporting and in a response to the Times on March 3 let them know.
Further, the fact that no Israeli governmental official was interviewed by Mr. Kristof to discuss that country’s laws, or identify any specific property disputes and claims procedures, or legal history on the subject should also raise red flags.
We are not a political actor in Israel but rather a 501(c) 3 charity and a UN NGO. Our mission betters the Land for all the people of Israel, regardless of ethnicity or religion. This multi-purposed goal facilitates the continuity of a secure and independent homeland for Jews across the diaspora, and supports our country’s only free and democratic strategic ally in the Middle East.
What Mr. Kristof did not report on was JNF’s multi-year work with the Bedouin community in the Negev that has improved their lives. Witness our efforts at a project called Wadi Atir, near the village of Hura, where the Bedouin community combines its traditional medicinal herbal practices and animal herding with modern farming techniques — the effects of which provide Bedouin men, and most importantly, women, with the tools to empower, educate and bring long-term financial and professional success.
In my meetings and visits with JNF’s wonderful volunteers, board members and staff, I am often overwhelmed by the caring and love shared for the people of Israel, in both good times and bad. Last year when rockets were sent from Gaza into Israel, we helped protect all of Israel’s residents on that border, including the Bedouin. Our partner Green Horizons responded to their villages to calm children with a variety of programs and bomb shelters were delivered to ensure safety.
JNF contributors understand that inclusiveness is the key to Israel’s future. Throughout the Negev Desert, JNF has partnered with numerous organizations to foster synergy and enhance and strengthen the region’s smaller communities that were often forgotten in the past. This small 8% of Israel’s population lives in some 60% of the land. Because they are so far removed from the central part of the country, they are often shortchanged for services, even when it comes to emergency treatment. To meet the demand for urgent care, last year we opened a medical center deep in the Negev Desert, alleviating the two-hour drive residents used to make.
Additionally, people with special needs are treated at our partner facilities Aleh Negev, Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center, and LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible – regardless of complexion, faith or language. And we have collaborated on a transboundary issue to repair an important watershed for the Palestinian Authority and the people of Be’er Sheva, the capital of the Negev, to make sure all have access to clean water.
For more than a century, JNF donors worldwide have taken part in a time-honored tradition and planted more than 250 million trees in Israel to commemorate important milestones, memorials or living testaments to loved ones. This act of taking care of the land has also served to create a green lung throughout the region. JNF is equally renowned for its protection of ecological systems, investing in smart technology and renewable energy, our leadership in sustainability, greening the desert and water conservation. Donors also choose to build farms, reservoirs, hospitals, schools, research centers, parks, and many other projects that benefit all the people of Israel.
Our history is one of love, nation building and industry that has reduced poverty, encouraged women’s rights and created economic opportunities for all. That’s the story that is Israel and JNF. That’s the story that the world needs to know.
American taxpayers’ money helped fund a pro-Palestinian Authority group to encourage “non-violent resistance to end the occupation,” according to material gleaned from the website OneVoiceMovement website, which is involved in the “V15″ campaign against Prime Minister Netanyahu, as reported here.
“OneVoicePalestine” received grants from the U.S. State Dept. until last November, weeks after most political observers said it was only a matter of time before the Netanyahu coalition would collapse and new elections would be held.
The hammer fell in December, and two months before, OneVoicePalestine (OVP) launched “The Land is Ours” campaign last September 25 to promote the stated American policy of a “two-state solution” and the un-stated policy of deciding the borders for a Palestinian Authority country.
The OneVoice site, in a blurb on the video it produced, stated its aim is to “encourage young Palestinians to participate in non-violent resistance to end the occupation, realize the two-state solution, and establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The campaign builds on the 2012 mobilization effort – “The Land is Ours, Leave Us Be” – which addressed the expansion of settlements by planting hundreds of trees in a number of areas threatened by confiscation.
Planting trees, borrowing the Jewish National Fund campaign decades ago to plant trees in Israel, is the message of “non-violence resistance.” The video does not show Arabs waving the PA’s Fatah movement flag, emblazoned with a rifle.
Instead, the film shows Arabs marching in Judea and Samaria and planting trees but carefully omits facts that many if not most of the campaigns have been carried out on land where violence is likely because Arabs trespasses on land where Jews live. Their justification is that their claim on the land is valid and that Jews’ claims are not valid.
The Palestinian Authority has backing from the Obama administration, which always says that it is up to both sides — the Palestinian Authority and Israel — to determine borders. However, government grants over the decades, as with the OneVoice video “The Land Is Ours, Leave Us Be,” have been used to contradict the supposed policy that the “final borders” are not to be settled by unilateral actions but by negotiations.
By that definition, Israel also has taken “unilateral actions” every time a Jew builds a home in Judea and Samaria or in areas of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinian Authority.
The difference is that when Jews take action, the Obama administration complains it is an obstacle to peace; when Arabs take action, it is considered their right.
Against this background, the call for “non-violent resistance” is at best naïve.
Official Palestinian Authority encouragement and promotion of violence has been documented at least every week by The Jewish Press and other media, often based on research by the Palestinian Media Watch.
Al Monitor, a predominantly pro-Arab organization, wrote nearly a year ago:
Although major Palestinian nationalist and Islamist movements publicly support and endorse what they call the “popular resistance,” there is little evidence that this support is more than lip service….
Two other problems have prevented nonviolence from becoming the major force in Palestine….Leaders of the movement have been unable or unwilling to show the kind of discipline that Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. showed in keeping the movement totally nonviolent. This partial nonviolence [sic] that features throwing stones at Israeli troops — often at the end of a mass demonstration — not only results in a brutal Israeli crackdown, but more importantly, it weakens the stance of a nonviolent movement.
It added that the second problem that silences the nonviolent movement “has been its inability to involve Israeli peace activists” because of “the lack of clarity about cooperating with Israelis and the ready accusation of ‘normalization” with Israel.
The bold statement that throwing stones is only “partial” non-violent illustrates where the American-funded OneVoice campaign is headed, whether intentional or not.
Violence becomes “non-violence” simply by changing the definition of the term, just as The Jewish Press pointed out here that the White House defeats terror by re-defining it.
Below is the OneVoice video, funded by American taxpayers.
Legendary folk singer and political activist Pete Seeger, who died on Monday in New York City at the age of 94, left behind a complicated if not questionable legacy when it came to Israel.
Famous for 1960s hits like “If I Had a Hammer,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” Seeger was also well known for speaking out for worker’s rights and participating in the civil rights movement.
He drew headlines in 2011 for coming out in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, expressing support for the BDS group Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).
According to an ICAHD press release, Seeger had donated portions of the royalties from his 1960s hit “Turn, Turn, Turn” to the group.
On the other hand, Seeger participated in an online peace rally for the Arava Institute, an environmental academic program in Israel, in 2010. However, after discovering that Arava had ties to the Jewish National Fund, Seeger said, “I support the BDS movement as much as I can.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rolled out the red carpet for visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is on his first-ever trip to Israel along with 21 rabbis, a Catholic priest, 27 CEOs, six government ministers and eight members of Parliament.
After getting the royal treatment by Prime Minister Netanyahu Sunday night, Harper, an evangelical Christian and an accomplished musician who leads a bad called “Herringbone,” visited the Mount of Olives (Har HaZeitim) in Jerusalem.
Harper traveled to Bethlehem and then paid an obligatory visit to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah on Monday, where he announced $66 million in new economic aid.
The first set of talkbacks on Canadian news sites included these negative remarks: “Thank you Mr. Harper that you found one more way to dump our tax money took them of our poor people, veterans, retirement person;
“Didn’t Canada and other nations declare Hamas a TERRORIST organization? Why not offer aid AFTER there is an established peace….;
“Extend our best wishes and offer to mediate. Stop throwing money down the big hole; and
“Well done Prime Minster Harper, Canada supports Israel, Canada’s closest friend in the Middle East.”
In fact, Canada has reduced its aid to the Palestinian Authority. Its five-year-commitment of $300 million has expired. Today’s pledge is for this year, and Harper did not go beyond that.
His pro-Israel stand is so strong that it drove the left-wing Haaretz to dig out a Canadian foreign ministry website position against the “illegal” Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria to try to prove that Ottawa is pro-Palestinian Authority.
But Harper’s words and actions are nothing of the sort, and the Palestinian Authority has not forgiven Harper’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird for going to the United Nations to declare Ottawa’s opposition to Abbas’ appeal for statehood by declaring that “unilateral actions” are not part of the “peace process.”
Harper said in Ramallah on Monday, “Canada looks forward to a bright future for all Palestinians, one in which security and prosperity are enjoyed in a viable and democratic Palestinian state. The support we are providing today will advance those goals by furthering the peace process, generating jobs and economic growth through private sector partnerships, and helping to further advance security and justice sector reforms.”
Not one word was said about “settlements.”
He told a news conference his stand is “Canadian” and not pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli. When a reporter tried to pin him down on Judea and Samaria, he replied. “I will not single out Israel on this trip.”
The “Jewish vote” in Canada is far from serious enough to make Harper pro-Israel
His backing for Israel, including clearly stated support for Israel’s counter-terrorist campaigns in Lebanon and Gaza, simply is based on what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in his welcoming speech Sunday night, when he explained that Harper “expresses a clear and courageous moral position with regard to the truth and to the necessary criteria in the international community toward Israel and the conflict here.”
Harper announced his trip to Israel last month when he spoke at a Jewish National Fund dinner.
At the of his speech, the Prime Minister showed off his musical talents and brought in his Herringbone to back him up with impressive renditions of songs from The Who, Rolling Stones and the Beatles, as seen in a brief segment below.
Arabs in Canada tried to protest an appearance by Canadian Prime Stephen Harper at a Jewish National Fund of Canada event because trees that the JNF plants are “soldiers in the Zionist army of occupation,” the website of the Yediot Acharonot newspaper reported.
Harper has staunchly stood in support of Israel more than any other leader in the world and plans to visit the country in January for the first time as Prime Minister.
The JNF hosted Harper at the “Negev Dinner” Sunday, and Canadian police prevented disturbances from protesters, already riled up by the Palestinian Authority over the “Prawer Plan,” designed as a compromise to make some kind of order out of chaos on the Negev that has been overrun by tens of thousands of Bedouin in recent years.
More than 3,500 supporters of Israel, including Christians, attended the high-priced fundraiser, where Harper made a personal donation to Israel for an aviary to be known as the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Center in northern Israel.
He announced his first official trip to the Middle East and was so excited that he broke out into song, singing songs from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
In a videotaped message played after Mr. Harper spoke, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded his Canadian counterpart for “unabashedly, unapologetically,” standing up for Israel.
Outside the convention hall where the dinner was held, Arabs chanted, “Harper, Harper, will you see, Palestine will be free.” The Calgary Herald quoted activist Yafa Jarrar as saying, “The main message really is to push Canada to end its complicity with these violations of international law that Israel commits.”
The activist may have been referring the war crimes committed by those “soldiers” who have been planted to occupy Israel.