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JNF’s ‘Negev Gala’ brings street theater to Winnipeg

on 6 Comments
JNF demo

JNF demo

On the evening of Tuesday, May 27, on the occasion of Winnipeg’s annual “Negev Gala,” organized by the Canadian chapter of the Jewish National Fund, a couple of dozen local activists (quite a few of them Jewish) gathered in front of the JNF’s Centennial Concert Hall venue, on the prairie metropolis’ busy Main Street.

JNF demo

JNF demo

The purpose of the gathering was two-fold: firstly, to call for the termination of the JNF’s charitable status here in Canada, because the JNF discriminates between people on the basis of their ethnicity; secondly, to announce the formation of a brand new JNF chapter — the “New JNF,” these activists call it — dedicated to the return of lands the JNF has stolen or simply laundered, in the latter case by planting trees or establishing parks over demolished Palestinian villages (e.g. “Canada Park,” where a handful of Palestinian villages once flourished, before they were demolished back in 1948).

JNF demo

JNF demo

A good time was had by all. Even the hall’s elderly security guard lightened up when told that the gathering just involved a bit of theatre (perfectly fitting for the location, really).

Listen to some of the proceedings here:

David Kattenburg

David Kattenburg is a Winnipeg-based radio/web broadcaster and science educator.

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6 Responses

  1. Walid on May 29, 2014, 11:45 am

    Another great Jewish group. The fraudulent story of Canada Village that was built on the ruins of 3 Palestinian villages in the Latrun with Canadian money has to be repeated over and over to Canadians..

  2. just on May 29, 2014, 12:00 pm

    Good work, folks!

    (Walid– certainly the history of Canada Park is not “fraudulent”)

    • Walid on May 29, 2014, 2:21 pm

      Poor English on my part, Just, I know that grammar-police RoHa is sleeping at this hour so I allow myself to get a bit sloppy. The story itself is not fraudulent but the project itself was a big fraud that did not tell contributors that their money would be spent on erasing the remnants of the destroyed villages of Imwas (that Christians know as Emmaus from the story of Jesus), Yalu and Beit Nuba in 1967 on the orders of war criminal Rabin. I once posted here a CBC 5th Estate 40-minute documentary on this fraud. For those that don’t know the 5th Estate, it was the Canadian equivalent of PBS’ Frontline.

      A short summary of what Canada Park really was by a disappointed Canadian peace activist Freda Guttman in 2005:

      Two Family Albums

      Freda Guttman

      In June 1967, the Palestinian villages of Beit Nuba, ‘Imwas (Emmaus), and Yalu were occupied, bulldozed, and totally demolished by Israel on the orders of Yitzhak Rabin; these acts have been rightly described as war crimes. Approximately twelve thousand people were driven away from their homes, many of them trucked to the River Jordan, others sent wandering in the desert without food or water. The inhumanity of dispossession and the brutality that goes with it are difficult to describe. The process of the destruction of these villages was hidden from the rest of the world, and a process of rewriting history ensued. Today, at the site of the ruins of these villages, stands the infamy called Canada Park, built with Canadian, tax-deductible dollars.

      In 1991, during a trip to Israel and Palestine, a friend took me to Canada Park, and there I saw my parents’ names listed as donors of trees. It wasn’t that I didn’t know that my parents gave money for trees for the park, because just about every Canadian Jew did; but, in a shock of recognition, the experience clarified thoughts I had about layers of complicity. The existence of Canada Park confirmed for me in a most compelling way that history cannot be denied; that this truth challenges us ethically. My parents, like most Canadian Jews, did not know that they had helped build a park that was created to conceal a war crime—the ethnic cleansing of the inhabitants of three Palestinian villages, which were then destroyed. Nonetheless, my family and I are implicated in various degrees of complicity. My country, Canada, considers the occupation of Palestinian lands illegal, yet the payment for the trees is tax deductible for Canadian citizens because the Jewish National Fund of Canada, through which the trees are bought, has charitable status in Canada. Several Canadian activist groups are working to have the JNF’s charitable status revoked.

      The artwork I did on Canada Park was an installation titled Canada Park: Two Family Albums. It consisted of four digitized wall images of ‘Imwas, one before it was destroyed, and then three others in 1968, 1978, and 1988, as it gradually became Canada Park. All were photographed from the same vantage point. In front of these images, two family photograph albums were placed on stands—one of my parents’ trip to Israel, which included a visit to Canada Park, the other a faux album that I made of portraits of Palestinians who had lived in the area that is now the park.

      Freda Guttman, a Canadian peace activist and installation artist, is a member of the Jewish Alliance against the Occupation and of the Montreal chapter of the International Solidarity Movement.

      • kattenbu on May 29, 2014, 2:44 pm

        Thanks for this information, Walid.

        Yes, it was a very entertaining action. Of course, I was there strictly as a journalist.

      • RoHa on May 29, 2014, 7:01 pm

        [Sleepy growl]

  3. ritzl on May 29, 2014, 12:23 pm

    Brilliant! The concept of an “New [Open] JNF” in the same vein as Open Hillel is really interesting. Green (or something) donation boxes, side by side, and let donors vote with their quarters.

    Keep up the great work!

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