The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated Friday that he has resigned his position as an Honorary Patron of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the body which owns 90% of the land in present-day Israel.Cameron is the latest of a string of high-profile political figures to abandon the JNF, a trend which has been cheered by the international movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel for what the movement calls apartheid policies by Israel.
In England, all three major political parties have had high-level politicians serving as patrons of the Jewish National Fund, whose stated mission is to ‘develop and settle the land of Israel’. Now, all three have dropped out, indicating a change in attitude toward the Jewish National Fund at the highest levels of British politics.
According to Dick Pitt, a spokesperson for the Stop the JNF Campaign, “Cameron was the only leader of the three major parties remaining as a JNF Patron. This decline in political support for the JNF at the highest levels of the political tree may be a sign of the increasing awareness in official quarters that a robust defense of the activities of the JNF may not be sustainable.”
The news of Cameron’s move has reached Palestinians in refugee camps, people whose land is under the control of the JNF. Salah Ajarma in Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp was “delighted to hear the news that the British Prime Minister has decided to withdraw his support for this sinister organisation involved in ethnic cleansing. My village, Ajjur, was taken by force from my family and given to the JNF who used money from JNF UK to plant the British Park on its ruins. For the Palestinians who were evicted from their villages and have been prevented from returning, Cameron’s withdrawal is another victory on the road to achieving justice and freedom for the Palestinians”.
The JNF considers itself to be a pioneer of the “historic Zionist dream”. The registered charity claims their work, especially in the Negev region of Israel, deals with “the rising demographic challenges faced by Israel”. In recent months the JNF’s activities in the Negev have received extensive international media coverage, linking them to the demolition of Palestinian Bedouin villages and confiscation of the land of the village.
Campaigners report that “even Israeli courts have criticized the JNF as an organization that discriminates against non-Jews and there is mounting evidence of the JNF’s involvement in Israel’s program to change the ethnic composition of areas inside 1948 Israel as well as in Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories. It is not acceptable that such an organization is allowed to operate in the UK, much less to enjoy charity status”.
Michael Kalmanovitz, UK co-ordinator of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, said “Cameron’s patronage of the JNF lent parliamentary credibility to a criminal organisation backed by a highly-equipped occupying army and masquerading as a ‘humanitarian charity’. Now parliamentarians who are ‘Friends of Israel’ must consider how much longer they can defend Israeli apartheid and worse.“