The Zionist project has, from its inception, been a cross-continental enterprise. Early Zionist settlement and proto-state formation, the seizure of Palestine in 1948 by the force of arms, and the consolidation of this conquest were all carried out with the crucial participation of important sectors in Europe and North America.
I grew up Jewish in the Naqab (Hebraized as Negev). As a child I enjoyed picnics in the Yattir forest, located in the northern Naqab. I asked how it could be that the man-made forest of Yattir is thriving, yet there were no natural forests in the surrounding area. I was told that it was because of the black goats of the Bedouin. They ate all the vegetation, making the land a desert.
In this explanatory diagram, attorney Usama Halabi attempts to chart Israel's regime over land by situating the key institutions (Israel Lands Authority, Jewish National Fund, Israeli Development Authority) as well as the most important of Israel's laws over land in relation to one another.
One of the most prominent results of the Nakba, which befell the Palestinian people in 1948, is the drastic change that occurred in respect to the control of land in Palestine. The military occupation of territory on one hand, and the expulsion and forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land on the other, led to effective Israeli control over the majority of the land in the newly established state.
The Jewish National Fund and the Coretta Scott King Forest
In recent years, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) has announced its plans to rebuild a section of the Birya forest, located in the Galilee, and to name it after the late Coretta Scott King, the renowned civil rights and anti-apartheid activist and wife of Martin Luther King Jr. The Coretta Scott King Forest is being built as part of ‘Operation Northern Renewal,’ a $400 million JNF campaign that aims to rebuild its forests in the North that were destroyed during Israel’s brutal assault on Lebanon the summer of 2006.
The Palestinian village of Imwas, together with the villages of Yalu and Beit Nuba, were razed to the ground in the 1967 war. In the mid-1970s, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) used donations from its Canadian branch to establish Canada Park on the lands of the three villages. We spoke with Ahmad Abughoush, president of Lajnet Ahali Imwas (Imwas Society) about the plight of the village, the villagers, and their attempts to return home.
Much has been written, forgotten and written again over the past century on the subject of Zionism and Israel’s unique civil status categories and corresponding practices. For a person with a long life and memory, it may be surprising to find that the crucial distinction between nationality and citizenship in Israel is news to so many people concerned with the conflict and problem of Zionism. Understandably for observers not regularly engaged in the conflict, such as human rights treaty body members, the concept has been a revelation.1
For anyone taking a road trip along the highways of the part of Palestine that became Israel in 1948, one is bound to spot a blue and green structure in the shape of a bird marked with the Hebrew letters KKL, which stands for Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael, the Hebrew name of the Israeli branch of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). All around the bird one will see expanses of forests planted sometime in the past few decades. A walk through one of these forests will take the visitor past fruit trees, cactus plants, terraced hillsides, and the ruins of buildings. In some cases, these ruins are explained in a JNF brochure pointing to their ancient history, in other cases, one is left to the devices of one's imagination. In all cases, these sites are what remains of some of the more than five hundred villages depopulated and destroyed through the course of Israel’s establishment, the homes of millions of Palestinian refugees struggling to return to them for over sixty years. By walking through a JNF park or forest, one inhales the fresh smell of the green-washing of Palestine’s Nakba.