28 July 2007


US Jewish groups lobby against JNF bill

Michal Lando, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 28, 2007


The Reform Movement and other liberal Jewish groups are urging the Knesset not to move forward with legislation that would prohibit Arab Israelis from leasing land owned by the Jewish National Fund.

A preliminary reading of the bill, which was approved by a 64-16 margin last week, would allow the Israel Lands Authority to bar Israeli Arabs from leasing any land that it manages. The JNF owns 13 percent of the land in Israel, much of which was paid for by Diaspora Jews.

In 1962, the JNF reached an agreement with the Israel Lands Authority, established in 1961, that allowed the ILA to manage JNF-owned land.

The current bill is intended to bypass a decision by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz in support of a preliminary court ruling that said non-Jews could not be barred from leasing JNF lands.

The reasoning behind the bill, according to the JNF, is that "the land purchased by the Jewish people for the Jewish people should remain in the hands of its rightful owners."

"It's important for us who had a covenant with the donors, that we honor that covenant," said Russell Robinson, chief executive officer of JNF.

"For 2000 years, I don't remember that we were praying and dreaming that we can't wait to establish a democratic state in the Middle East, but we did say that we can't wait to reestablish a Jewish homeland."

Despite this, the bill has disappointed Israelis and Americans alike, and efforts to try and prevent the bill from moving forward are underway.

A letter on behalf of the board of directors of Ameinu, the US affiliate of the World Zionist Movement, addressed to MK Ze'ev Elkin (Kadima), expressed "profound disappointment" with the recent vote.

"At a time when Israel is trying to show the world that there is no contradiction between a Jewish state and a democratic one, every effort must be made to enforce the principle of equality and equal opportunity for all Israeli citizens," the letter states.

Though Amienu recognizes the "complexities of the situation" at a time of tensions between Israel's Jewish and Arab populations, Israel should demonstrate that the Israeli Arabs "have a stake in the country's future," the letter states.

"The bill is not only unfair to one fifth of Israel's population; it also reinforces the growing perception around the world that Israel is an 'apartheid' state," the letter states.

The Reform Movement is in the process of drafting its own letter opposing the bill, to be sent to Knesset members this week.

"We are quite concerned by the letter and spirit of law," said Rabbi Andrew Davids, executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA.)

"This is not the time for Israel to be looking at policies that differentiate between different cohorts of its citizenry."

Though the JNF was entrusted with bringing a Jewish state into being, some institutions need to be "reevaluated," said Davids.

"What we are seeing is the maturation of an Israeli democratic society, and some institutions need to be reevaluated with regards to the current demographics. Israel will never be a state exclusively for Jews," he said.

The New Israel Fund also opposes the bill.

Other Diaspora activists, however, support the bill. ZOA President Morton Klein said he was "very disappointed that Jewish groups would not understand the unique circumstances in Israel."

"Israel is not America. It was created first as a Jewish state, where America was created first as [a] democracy," Klein said.

Klein pointed out other Israeli laws that give Jews privileges not available to non-Jewish Israeli citizens, such as aliya.

"Why don't they publicly complain that Jews can't purchase land anywhere in Jordan, our ally?" said Klein, arguing that in Jordan, selling land to a Jew is an offense punishable by death.

Though the JNF was entrusted with bringing a Jewish state into being, some institutions need to be "reevaluated," said Davids.

"What we are seeing is the maturation of an Israeli democratic society, and some institutions need to be reevaluated with regards to the current demographics. Israel will never be a state exclusively for Jews," he said.

Do you spot the failure of lib-think in the above statement?

Mr. Davids is suggesting that he understands that in the past, Israel was "established" {by whom?} as Jewish, "nowadays" we can re-consider the mistakes of history with our bold vision of world peace, arabian and Jew walking side by side, sharing hummous and old stories like retirees in a convalescent home. He hides his dis-taste for things Jewish under the mis-leading feel goodism of "maturation". He closes his vagary with the thought that, after all, Israel will never be just for the Jews. Non-Jews live in Israel, always have and always will. What does this have to do with the equation of the JNF bill?

The YNET article does a better job explaining the current events in Israel which led to the writing of this legislation

MK Uri Ariel, who presented the bill, explained that "the Israel Land Administration manages the land for the JNF and holds the land in trusts. As the JNF's trustee, the ILA must be true to the fund's principles and goals and to the principle of national ownership of the land.

"For generations, thousands of Jews saved every cent in order to purchase land in the Land of Israel for the Jewish People. The ILA must honor Keren Kayemeth's goals and the wishes of generations of Jews, who wished to purchase land that would be sacred to the Jewish people."

MK Ze'ev Elkin attempted to justify the bill, saying "this bill proposal has come to do historic justice and prevent the State of Israel – with the blatant intervention of the High Court of Justice – from violating the basic pact it made with the JNF. Keren Kayemeth was established by the Jewish People in the Diaspora for a specific purpose, namely, Zionist settlement in the Land of Israel."

Leftist libbies are intervening in the trust of generations of Jews who have given money to the JNF for the purpose of planting trees, redeeming the land for the Jews and promoting Jewish settlement in the holy land of Israel. For once, we can say the Knesset has acted correctly. BTW, the preliminary reading of the bill passed by a 64-16 vote.

Another version of the story can be found here.

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What Words Offend Arabs? The Truth.

Children's Poetry Booklet Recalled After Arabs Complain
(Israeli censorship kowtows to Arabs.
When Will We Tell The Truth Without Fear)

(IsraelNN.com 7 Sivan 5768/June 10, '08) Ynet's web site and Arab complaints against a ten-year-old boy's poem about terrorists has resulted in the recall of all of the Nes Ziona municipality's children's poetry booklets.

Ynet boasts that its coverage of the poem resulted in its being recalled.

The text of the poem (Ynet's translation):

Ahmed's bunker has surprises galore: Grenades, rifles are hung on the wall. Ahmed is planning another bombing!What a bunker Ahmed has, who causes daily harm.Ahmed knows how to make a bomb. Ahmed is Ahmed, that's who he is, so don't forget to be careful of him.We get blasted while they have a blast!Ahmed and his friends could be wealthy and sunny, if only they wouldn't buy rockets with all their money.

Poetry competition director Marika Berkowitz, who published the booklet, was surprised at the protests and told Ynet: "This is the boy's creation and this is what he wanted to express. Of course there should be a limit, but I think the there is no racism here. 'Ahmed' is a general term for the enemy. These are the murmurings of an innocent child."

The Education Ministry told Ynet: "The local authority that published the booklet should have guided the students in a more correct manner through the schools. The district will investigate the issue with the local authorities."
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