“STOP THE MISINFORMATION, AND THE JNF”
As part of this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week activates, spirited protesters from Philly BDS, Temple Students for Justice in Palestine and local allies greeted attendees as they arrived at the annual Jewish National Fund Fundraiser in Philadelphia, PA.
Within minutes of assembling in the freezing cold outside Del Frisco’s Restaurant in center city Philadelphia on Thursday, February 27th the Regional Director of the JNF, Marina Furman, came outside without a coat to “thank us” for our presence, saying that over the years since we have been protesting JNF fundraisers, the number of people attending the event has increased. Essentially, she explained that we are ‘good for business.’ We reassured her that as long as the JNF continued their role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, we would continue to protest. A brief conversation ensued in which Marina challenged our claim that her organization was dispossessing the Bedouin in the Negev. She politely assured us that we were misinformed. She directed us to the JNF web site on which we would find photos of the cities the JNF was building for the Bedouin. Marina was almost convincing. She seemed earnest in her desire to believe the JNF was helping the Bedouin.
Contrary to its self-styled image as a charitable organization dedicated to planting trees in Israel, the JNF is instrumental in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the ongoing expropriation of land for the exclusive use of Jewish Israelis. The racial discrimination institutionalized by the JNF presents a major challenge to any effort to achieve a just peace in Israel-Palestine. A quasi-governmental organization, the JNF has charitable status in the United States, and consequently enjoys tax exemptions for its institutions and donors. This means, in effect, that the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing the confiscation of Palestinian land and the establishment of Jewish-only settlements that violate both international law and stated U.S. policy.
Philly BDS, Temple Students for Justice in Palestine, and their local allies participating in Thursday’s action urge the United States to revoke the charitable status of the JNF. Playing on the fundraiser’s “Madness Poker Tournament” theme, protesters held signs that said “Land Theft is Nor Charity” and chanted slogans such as “BULLDOZING HOMES, STEALING LAND, THESE ARE THE CARDS IN THE JNF’s HAND” to “JUST BEHIND THEIR POKER FACES, WE SEE ALL THE STOLEN PLACES.”
While attendees mostly refused postcards available that described the action, passers-by were eager for information and conversation. Memorable were the few that took the time to thank us for our presence and our action.