forests of shame ....
from our friend Dr Vacy Vlazna
At the black heart of Israel’s 65 year rape of Palestine, is the Jewish National Fund ( JNF) which once went by the more germane, Jewish COLONIAL Trust; an opportunistic real-estate jackal that has aggressively deposited its Zionist stink throughout the ancestral land of Palestine.
From its inception in 1901, JNF’s mission of the theft of Palestinian land for the Jews-only Greater (Eretz) Israel is racist, colonial, criminal (colonial expansion is a warcrime under Article 8.2(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute) and bloody.
Max Blumenthal writes “JNF director Yosef Weitz was instrumental in hatching Plan Dalet, the campaign to ethnically cleanse at least 400 Palestinian villages and expel their residents in 1947 and 1948. After the war of 1948, Weitz orchestrated the planting of hundreds of thousands of non-native trees west of Jerusalem to cover up the scores of villages that had just been ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias.”
These days, to cover up its criminal activities, JNF has reinvented itself as ‘the caretaker of the land of Israel on behalf of its owners--Jewish people everywhere’. To promote this benign image of the normalisation of ethnic cleansing, JNF offers tours and missions of Israel that are “intensely emotional, educational and spiritual experiences” of Orwellian Newspeak and war crime whitewash.
Let us travel together, for example, on the Spirit of Israel Spring Mission , with some itinerary changes, but without the hasbara (propaganda) and Disneyland distortions of the reality of Israel’s reign of terror over Palestine.
Welcome to Israel
For travellers arriving in the ‘democratic’ state of Israel through Ben Gurion airport, named after the Nakba terrorist, be prepared for the ‘spiritual’ experience of hours of humiliation by belligerent security staff that involves ethnic profiling, intense and disrespectful interrogation, inspection of baggage, strip and invasive searches, access to phone, emails and Facebook.Travellers not granted entry are sent to a detention facility to await deportation.
Meet your transfer driver and proceed to Jerusalem, the ethnic-cleansing capital, where you can watch despairing Palestinian families in Silwan evicted, their homes confiscated and demolished for settlement expansion and a tourist site or visit extremist settlers in Sheik Jarrah who have taken over, with full protection of the IOF, the houses of now homeless and distressed Palestinian families.
Overnight, King David Hotel: the site where the British Mandate secretariat was bombed in 1946 by the Jewish Irgun terrorists led by Begin (a future Israeli PM) killing 91 people and injuring 46. Now owned by Dan Hotels which purchased IBIT, the catering company for the savage Israeli Occupation Forces. Michael Federmann is chairman of Dan Hotels, Elbit- Israel’s largest private weapons manufacturer and the Hebrew University.
Following breakfast depart for a walking tour through the Old City. Start at the Western Wall and plaza which prior to the 1967 war was the bustling 800-year old Moroccan Quarter home to 1000 residents who were evicted on short notice and their homes and the Medieval Sheikh Eid Mosque demolished by the army with the approval of Judaisation mastermind, Mayor Teddy Kollek.
Afterwards take an exciting tour through the Western Wall Tunnels where you can view a model of the Third Temple destined to be built on the Islam’s third holiest site, the Haram al-Sharif as shown in the propaganda film featuring Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. The billions of dollars to fund the Third Temple are set aside and ready to literally blast off the beautiful Dome on the Rock and holy Al Aqsa Mosque already under daily threats by excavations and settler attacks.
Then a short walk to Silwan in Palestinian East Jerusalem to see Israel’s Archeology-as-a-War-Crime-Park aka The City of David national park.The archeological park, named after the Biblical myth of King David, is testimony to the genocide of Palestinian culture and history. There is no archeological evidence found for the existence of Kings David and Solomon, particularly not in Jerusalem in spite of the fairytale propaganda unloaded onto gullible tourists and in spite of the bulldozing of Palestinian homes.
Not far from the Old City is the proposed Museum of Tolerance. Never mind the irony it is being built on a centuries old Muslim cemetery now shambled with the ruins of desecrated graves. Even the dead are ethnically-cleansed for the glory of Israel.
Overnight, King David Hotel
Depart hotel and drive south to Arava on Jews-only highways avoiding the inconvenience and humiliation Palestinians suffer at myriad military-manned checkpoints.
Arava brings to mind another page of Israel’s illustrious history; the Nazi like deportation in 1950 of 5000 Palestinian terrified refugees, including pregnant women, babies, the elderly and the ill, from their later-looted homes in Nazareth. Transferred in overcrowded trucks, they were interred in barbed wire-fenced concentration camps and cruelly forced to march across the merciless Negev desert overseen by Moshe Dayan’s Southern Command who beat and tortured the prisoners. Heil Dayan.
In the afternoon visit Research and Development station to learn how agricultural experts and farmers are working together to find solutions to the challenges of desert agriculture while putting out of your mind the hypocrisy of the ongoing systematic destruction of Palestinian agriculture and livelihoods, the confiscation of farmland for colonial expansion, access denial to farms during harvests, firing on and killing of farmers, prevention of exporting produce, uprooting of millions of olive trees, theft of water resources, violent attacks by colonists, and separation from farms by the illegal Annexation Wall; all of which inhumanely compound Palestinian immiseration.
Overnight, Beresheet Hotel.
After breakfast and hotel checkout we head for Beer Sheba, the capital of the Naqab (Negev) - a hive of JNF war crime activity.
Prof. Salman Abu Sitta in The Denied Inheritance: Palestinian Land Ownership in Beer Sheba, affirms that during the 400 year Ottoman period, Palestinian ownership of land was recognised under Custom law. “At no time, whether before the promulgation of the Ottoman Land Code of 1858 or after, did the Turks challenge the land ownership of Palestinians in Beer Sheba...The Turks presented proof to the British-led Egyptian government that the tribes of Beer Sheba (‘urban) paid taxes to the Qaimmaqam of Beer Sheba, in order to prove that this territory and land ownership in it belong to its inhabitants in Palestine, not Egypt.”
And during the British Mandate, the British government also recognised Palestinian landownership which was undermined by the Zionist modification of land laws and fraud in favour of the Jews.
By 1945 Jews owned a mere 0.5% of Beer Sheba until its occupation on 21 October 1948 by superior Jewish forces which dispersed the great majority of the indigenous population to Gaza, Hebron, Jordan and the Sinai.
according to Abu Sitta, “The first act of confiscation took place at the end of 1948 when Ben Gurion felt that the international community will force his not-yet-recognized government to allow the expelled refugees to return home in accordance with the now-famous UN resolution 194. So he entered into a fictitious, and obviously illegal, “sale” of refugees’ land to Jewish National Fund, a Zionist multi-national corporation. This ‘sale’ involved strategically located land at the Armistice Line to prevent the return of the refugees.”
In 2013, the JNF were over the moon when the Knesset passed the racist Prawer Plan for the ethnic cleansing of the 40,000 indigenous Negev Bedouins slotting in nicely with JNF’s judaisation ‘Blueprint Negev’ project of the whole Beer Sheba district.
Today, Beersheba is the showcase of the JNF’s normalisation makeover as Israel’s largest green NGO. On illegally destroyed Palestinian villages and cultivated land, the JNF has planted forests that are, in effect, a political stunt rewarding governments for supporting impunity for Israel’s violent violations of international law.
For amenable Australia alone, there are: the Jeff Kennett Forest, Bob Carr Forest, Arthur Calwell Forest, Australia-Israel Friendship Forest, Sir Zelman and Lady Cowen Forest, Bob Hawke Forest, Sir Harold Holt Memorial Grove, Sir Robert and Dame Pattie Menzies Forest, Dr HV Evatt Forest, Sir Thomas Blamey Forest, Sir John Monash, John Howard Forest, South Australia-Israel Twin Friendship Forests. plus all the other forests for lackey nations. Quite a magic feat given Israel has more forests than Australia which has a 40 times larger land mass.
Continue on to Tel Aviv. Overnight; Dan Tel Aviv Hotel
Take an early stroll along Tel Aviv’s beach situated along the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean or relax at the hotel pool oblivious to the fact that the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank have never been permitted by Israel to stand on their ancestral shores or that in Gaza, an innocent family picnic on the beach can, in an instant, become a bloody massacre, such as in 2006 when an Israeli gunboat shelled and slaughtered 7 members of the Ghaliya family including 4 children; Ilham, 15; Sabrin, 7; Hanadi, 2; Haytham, 8 months and injured 30 other civilians.
In the afternoon take a tour to the Dead Sea through Palestine’s Jordan Valley, marked for illegal annexation in a recent bill before the Knesset. The infrastructure of the 37 illegal Israeli colonies in the Jordan Valley is generously provided by JNF. Products from the colonies, such as Ahava and Seacret cosmetics, are BDS targets as they monopolise and exploit precious resources belonging to impoverished Palestinians.
Overnight; Dan Tel Aviv Hotel
Head to Old Jaffa, an 8000-year-old port city. Walk through the surviving winding alleyways not obliterated in the Nakba by Zionist forces and try to get a sense of this once flourishing Palestinian city famous for its ‘commercial, banking, fishing and agricultural industries’ with ‘many factories specialising in cigarette making, cement, tile and roof production, iron casting, cotton processing plants, traditional handmade carpets, leather products, woodbox industry for Jaffa orange, textile’, and newspapers all confiscated, without compensation, as property of the Jewish state.
In the surrounds of the city, before the Nakba, lay kilometres of citrus groves abundant with the renowned Jaffa orange. ‘By the 1930s, Jaffa was exporting tens of millions of citrus crates to the rest of the world, which provided thousands of jobs for the people of the city and its environs, and linking them to the major commercial centers of the Mediterranean coast and the European continent.’ (Jaffa: from eminence to ethnic cleansing, Electronic Intifada 25-2-09).
Afterward, a pleasant drive to the Ein Hod Artist Colony, a quaint artist’s village filled with galleries, museums and restaurants. Take some time to explore the Art of Apartheid and Daylight Robbery in this ethnically cleansed but intact village previously loved and lived as Ayn Aawd. Its Palestinian homes are now blithely inhabited by shameless artists while within cooee, the original owners were forced to build what is known as an ‘unrecognised’ village denied essential services such as electricity and running water.
Drive to Jerusalem.
Overnight, King David Hotel
After breakfast and hotel checkout, proceed to Mt. Herzl to see the gravesites of Theodore Herzl, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and other war criminals.
Later, ‘make a solemn visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum & Memorial that tells the story of the Holocaust from a uniquely Jewish perspective, emphasizing the experiences of victims through original artifacts, survivor testimonies & personal possessions.’
Reflect deeply on the abominable irony that the ‘Never Again’ lesson of the Jewish Holocaust has been dumped by Israel for the Zionist lust for lebensraum upheld by every cent donated to JNF.
Then recall those JNF forests dedicated to world leaders who once again have chosen, for 65 years (not 5 as in WWII), to stand on the unethical side of history by purposely and unconscionably ignoring the cries and pleas arising from the Palestinian Holocaust and by neglecting their legal obligations to protect the political and human rights of the people of Palestine.
A notable exception and exemplar of decency and justice is, South African Ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia who refused, on his retirement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and JNF honour of the customary planting of 18 trees in the Ambassador’s Forest and the later 3542 trees donated in his name with his ethical statement: "I have supported the struggle against Apartheid South Africa and now I cannot be a proponent of what I have witnessed in Israel, and that is, a replication of Apartheid!"
JNF’s emotional and spiritual mission of the bright beacon of democracy and freedom is ended, please transfer to the airport for your return flight to sanity.
Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.