Cal Tzedek: "JNF, treasury seek formula for continued Jews-only land sales"

Friday, January 28, 2005

"JNF, treasury seek formula for continued Jews-only land sales"


Here's what we have: the Israeli government has, since 1961 (and, as an extension of land policies starting in 1948), restricted the sale of Jewish National Fund land to non-Jews. Earlier this week, Israel's attorney general rightfully ruled against this policy. This ruling gives Hasbara activists just enough time to boast that "Israel, as a democracy (which therefore has the responsibility to protect is citizens), has an independent judiciary, something which the 22 Arab countries don't have. Where else in the middle east could Arabs file grievances against the government and have their concerns addressed? Only in Israel. As a democracy, Israel has a variety of opinions, and people are free to disagree with certain policies. At the end of the day, though, Israel's democratic institutions make the right decisions." Israel's democratic institutions would be absolutely entitled to these laurels if they did not immediately seek to circumvent the "right decisions"!

And this has long been a problem. On matters which are hard to justify, Israel acts within the law--barely, and sometimes in no semblence of good faith. Thus, we get "disputed territories," an admittedly brilliant legal invention. We get the Hebron agreement ("they signed it! if they don't like it, they shouldn't have signed it!"). And we get painfully earnest analysis by cognitively dissonant Hasbara activists who will explain how such legal wrangling must be understood in context and how, in the case of this article, the controversial policies in question apply ONLY to 13 percent of Israel!

Needless to say, such justifications ignore the fundamental question of whether these policies are moral. Consider this passage from the article:

"From now on, JNF lands will be available to Jews and non-Jews alike - though the ILA will compensate the JNF with substitute land for any plot purchased by a non-Jew."

This is quite chilling. That this only applies to 13 percent of land is a non-factor. The ILA, as a government organization, should not claim to disassociate itself from the JNF and simultaneously compensate them for "any plot purchased by a non-Jew."

It should be interesting to see if this new "formula" is also challenged.


Thank you so much for these recaps. They're great.
More info about hasbara, go to

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