Land for Jews fund crashes, Jewish ‘leaders’ hit by fall-out
Jewish Chronicle censors itself as Zionist Federation attacks ‘crude smear story’
Tony Greenstein, blog
October 22, 2012
You couldn’t make it up. The Jewish Chronicle’s front page story this week is ‘JNF loses half its revenue’ by Simon Rocker. Try finding it on the JC’s own site however. It has disappeared! Failing JC Editor, Stephen Pollard, now quakes in his boots whenever he is reprimanded by Zionist rightwinger Jonathan Hoffman.
According to Hoffman ‘The page 1 lead in the JC this week was a squalid smear story about the JNF which would not even have passed muster for the Morning Star.’
I managed, with difficult to find the story on Press Display. The JC’s normally reliable search facility couldn’t find it. Normally if you type the JC’s web address you get the front page automatically, but this week it has now been replaced by Jimmy Saville instead!
The article read:
Charity ‘no longer credible’ and may be ‘unsustainable’, says community leader
ONE OF the community’s leading Israel charities, JNF UK, has suffered a massive drop in contributions, with voluntary income plummeting by more than half from 2010 to 2011.
According to its newly-published accounts, income from donations, legacies and investments fell from around £5.1 million in 2010 to just over £2.4 million last year.
The collapse in its income contrasts with the leading British Israel charity, the UJIA, which has experienced a far more modest 13 per cent fall in comparative income over the same period, from £14.3 million to £12.4 million.
It is four years since JNF UK’s chairman Samuel Hayek took over from Gail Seal as part of a deal to end a costly legal conflict with its Israeli associate Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL).
The dramatic fall in its revenues has been blamed on a perceived politicisation of the charity by Mr Hayek.
At the end of 2007, JNF UK posted an income of more than £8 million, but that yield has slid in successive years. In 2011, donations fell from nearly £2.6 million in 2010 to just over £1.5 million last year, and legacies from nearly £2.5 million to £832,000.
A senior communal figure said: “This collapse in philanthropic support is the clearest possible signal that the community no longer the sees the JNF, under its current leadership, as a credible receptacle for its charitable support for Israel. On the basis of these accounts it is questionable whether the JNF can any longer accurately be described as a major communal organisation. Its long-term sustainability looks uncertain.”
But Daniel Frohwein, JNF UK’s head of marketing, said that its viability remained “strong. We have a level of reserves which enables us to support our commitment in leaner years.” Legacy income would “always be variable and understandably outside our control”.
The JNF’s response to lower income levels was to “restructure departments and professionally manage our expenses in line with our income.”
JNF UK cut its support costs from £1.7 million in 2010 to just over £1.2 million last year — although that figure does not include another £400,000 or so for fundraising and publicity last year.
The charity sent £2.3 million to Israel last year.
A report of JNF’s activities accompanying the accounts states that it held a successful annual dinner for 250 guests in 2011 but does not say what, if any, money was raised.
Response to Hayek’s Lies
The £2.4 million income excludes £7.5 million raised through a JNF subsidiary, KKL charity vouchers, which is a conduit of funds for other charities.
Now there was a time, when I was growing up, when every Jewish household had the blue JNF box into which the odd coin would be dropped. It was there to ‘redeem’ the land of Palestine. I never even though it was abnormal. The JNF was there to develop the land of Israel, to plant forests and make the land fit to live in.
Never once did I understand that the purpose of the JNF was to ‘redeem’ the land from the Arabs in order that only Jews could live on it. That the JNF was the primary apartheid institution in Israel.
It is a testament to the Palestine solidarity movement that this message has got through at last. That people now realise that giving to the JNF means supporting the most racist aspects of Israel. Of course their multi-million pound legal battle with the JNF in Israel a few years ago didn’t help.
Nor did the reception that the Royal Family gave them at Windsor Castle, on Israel’s 60th anniversary, help them. Prince Phillip had a diplomatic illness and Prince Edward, who is pretty low on the Royal food chain, made a quick appearance and then disappeared!
The JNF hasn’t had a good time recently. It was normal until the advent of David Cameron, for Prime Ministers to be patrons of the JNF and for the other party leaders to be too. But Cameron took the step of not allowing his name to be associated with it. Why? Because the JNF in recent years has come to be seen as an overtly racist group.
The Jewish Chronicle was forced to stage a debate into the obvious – is lending to Jews-only racist!
This even culminated in a debate in the Jewish Chronicle, of all papers, on 2nd August 2007 as to whether or not the JNF was racist. This followed the decision of Israel’s High Court that the JNF could no longer refuse to rent or lease land or apartments to non-Jews. A simple matter of apartheid and racism it would appear but not to defenders of Zionism. The Israeli Knesset subsequently passed legislation, Acceptance to Communities Bill, allowing the JNF to do exactly that, by allowing existing (Jewish) communities to veto undesirables i.e. Arabs and Black Jews (Ethiopians).
And then last May the JNF decided to invite (again) the far-Right Foreign Minister of Israel – Avigdor Lieberman to Britain. As Simon Rocker reported on 24th May 2012 ‘Lieberman visit triggers bitter community clash’. Despite Hoffman’s support, over 300 Habonim & Reform Synagogue members signed a petition which ‘accused JNF of being involved in “activities which jeopardise the possibility of peace and Israel’s ability to maintain a strong democracy”. It gave as examples the eviction of Palestinians from homes in Silwan, east Jerusalem and the displacement of Bedouins living in the Negev town of Al-Araqib to make way for trees.’
Signatories included chairman of Liberal Judaism’s rabbinic conference Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Ilana Fenster, who jointly chairs the Zionist Youth Council, Anthony Tricot, who is a board member of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, and prominent Orthodox educator Maureen Kendler.
However the right-wing buffoon who has single-handedly brought the JNF to the edge of the abyss in the UK, Samuel Hayek said that the “libellous” claims had “no foundation. JNF UK is not involved in any of the disputes with sections of Israel’s Bedouin citizen.’ This is because ‘JNF UK is a separate charity from KKL-JNF in Israel, although it does send funds to the Israeli body.’ A strange form of independence! And more to the point, Hayek said that ‘the petition had “provided a great deal of ammunition and encouragement to anti-Jewish and anti-Israel groups. The JNF, as the flag bearer of Israel in the United Kingdom, stands firmly against the demonisation of Israel.” Err quite.
When a group of us wrote to the Guardian on 7.10.10. pointing out that the JNF was a racist organisation, Hayek responded that the work of the JNF ‘is not based on any political or religious affiliation”. As I pointed out in a subsequent letter, to which he didn’t respond (or wasn’t printed!) Hayek is ‘either being disingenuous or he has not read the JNF’s own entry on the Charity Commission website, which states that its objects include “such charitable purposes as benefit persons of Jewish religion, race or origin”.
Lieberman’s invitation this year triggered a Palestine Solidarity Demonstration in Hendon. Despite chanting how much they wanted ‘peace’, Zionist thugs then tried to attack demonstrators and in the process smashed the car windows of members of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta group.
Unfortunately (for them!) they were apprehended by a passing jogger who they also ‘peacefully’ assaulted – again unfortunately for them he happened to be the Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police!
And there is also a report from Ben White that JNF UK has made its Manchester based regional director, Jo Krasner, redundant following reports of its revenue being cut by half. It seems that good news comes by the bucketload!