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Regionen und Länder: Israel/Palästina

Mazuz versus Herzl - the JNF controversy


By Israel Harel
Haaretz, May 25, 2007
Occupation magazine

Hanging on the wall was a box: `This is the sky-blue box (and) every penny inserted in it liberates the soil.` This box was in homes, classrooms, youth movement branches, and workplaces - in Israel and the Diaspora. Young and old recited a song, actually a prayer, that said thanks to the pennies placed in those boxes, `we will redeem the nation`s soil, from the North to the Negev.`

The Jewish National Fund owns 2.5 million dunam (625,000 acres) of land in Israel. They were bought - I must tell you today, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and the justices of the Supreme Court in its capacity as the High Court of Justice - `dunam by dunam, clod by clod` so they would become the `Jewish people`s eternal property,` in accordance with the principle established by modern Zionism`s founder, Theodor Herzl, at the Fifth Zionist Congress in 1901. Now, 106 years later, along comes the attorney general of the Jewish state created by Herzl`s vision and declares that this era is over. Mazuz instructed the JNF this week, to allocate lands, without discrimination, to Jews and non-Jews alike. The State Prosecutor`s Office conveyed the attorney general`s instruction to the High Court in response to appeals various organizations submitted in 2004 on behalf of Arabs to whom the JNF had refused to sell lands. The State Prosecutor`s Office also instructed the Israel Lands Administration to cancel tenders where one standard condition is that the purchasers must be Jews, since the JNF owns the land.

In 1961, when the JNF`s lands were transferred to the ILA`s management, not ownership, nobody could have suspected that one day the Jewish state would proclaim the allocation of Jewish-owned land to Jews a discriminatory act. In a covenant signed by former prime minister Levi Eshkol, on Israel`s behalf, and Yaacov Tsur, representative of the World Zionist Movement, the JNF`s owner, it was stated that Israel would comply with the `JNF`s fundamental principle that the lands would remain in the nation`s possession.` Furthermore, the covenant specified, the `JNF would continue serving as an institution of the Zionist Organization in the Jewish public in Israel and the exile [Diaspora] … for the redemption of land.`

Earlier, in May 1954, the government authorized - the authorization was given official effect in the government gazette - the JNF memorandum whose central purpose was `to purchase lands … for the settlement of Jews.` Regarding this point, the covenant specifies that the `JNF lands shall be administered in compliance with this memorandum and the JNF`s articles of incorporation.` These articles were based on Herzl`s words: `The Jewish people will be not only the founder (of the JNF) but its constant, eternal owner. This will prevent any use incongruent with the founder`s goals.`

After Mazuz`s decision and judging from precedents in his rulings, it will not be hard to guess what the High Court will decide. This judicial establishment is intent on forcing Israel to gradually part with its definition as a Jewish state and become a state of all its citizens. The instruction to allocate the Jewish people`s lands to the very nation competing with it for this country`s ownership and sovereignty is part of the general moral degeneration to which we have succumbed in recent years. The memorandums Arab organizations have published over the past few months - the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee`s `Future Vision,` the Mossawa Center`s document, Adalah`s proposed constitution and the `Haifa Document,` published on Jerusalem Day, have not opened the eyes of our blinded judicial establishments, which are changing, right before our eyes, as our legislators sit idly by, Israel`s Jewish character and its Zionist objectives for which blood and money have been expended in huge quantities.

The Zionist movement - hopefully, it will not be declared a racist movement in Israel, too - must abrogate its covenant with the state and manage the JNF on its own. Article 17 allows this. If, in a Jewish state, a Zionist organization cannot earmark land for the exclusive use by Jews, it is hard, very hard, to define the meaning of `a national home for the Jewish people.`

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