Demand that JNF ends its forestation on the remains of demolished Bedouin villages and disputed Bedouin land!
The Jewish National Fund in Israel (KKL-JNF) is best known for planting trees in Israel. We are proud of much of KKL-JNF’s work to grow and develop the modern State of Israel.
Unfortunately, KKL-JNF, as the quasi-governmental forestry department of the State of Israel, has also played a key role in enforcing policies that involve demolishing Bedouin villages in the Negev and replacing these communities’ homes with forests.
KKL-JNF’s activities violate basic human rights and contravene Jewish values by contributing to the forced displacement of Bedouin communities. These actions also threaten the security and moral fiber of Israel by fomenting hostility towards the State among Israel’s Arab-Bedouin citizens.
KKL-JNF is a quasi-governmental body responsible for the development and management of Israel’s forests. The intent behind much of their work in southern Israel is not only to “make the desert bloom,” but also to ensure the maintenance of a Jewish majority in the Negev region.
KKL-JNF promotes environmental sustainability in the Negev, placing a strong emphasis on forestry and ecology. It also advocates for the formation and strengthening of Jewish communities in the Negev region, and has several projects that work for the betterment of the Bedouin population of Israel.
However, when we examine KKL-JNF’s actions in and around the Bedouin village of Al-Arakib, as well as in other Bedouin communities, T'ruah, Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) in Israel and the Campaign for Bedouin-Jewish Justice have found that the Jewish National Fund has evaded responsibility for and been dismissive of the suffering caused by KKL-JNF’s complicity with the government in razing homes, burrowing fields, and even uprooting existing groves of trees, all to clear land for KKL-JNF’s planting initiatives.
Our advocacy efforts are starting to make some headway though. In the summer of 2011, KKL-JNF World Chairman, Efi Stenzler, stated that KKL-JNF rejected a non-binding request from a judge to refrain from planting in a disputed area of Al-Arakib. But later, in 2012, KKL-JNF told our Israeli colleagues at RHR that they would not plant on four plots of land in Al-Arakib that are involved in ongoing legal disputes over land ownership, and issued a public statement saying that it "does not plant even a single tree on land that is in legal dispute in court."
On April 29, 2012, KKL-JNF equipment arrived in Al-Arakib and began working on one of the plots of land under dispute, plot 24. KKL-JNF's work continued on the disputed plot 24 on May 7, 2012. This action violates what T'ruah, RHR and the Campaign for Bedouin-Jewish Justice understood KKL-JNF’s commitment to be. Bedouin residents are fearful that the KKL-JNF's foresting of land still under legal dispute in Al-Arakib will make it almost impossible for the community to be able to return.