On Sunday, December 1, Stephen Harper was “honoured” at the Jewish National Fund (JNF) - Toronto’s annual ‘Negev Dinner’. A large and boisterous protest of at least 200 people congregated at Olympic Park and marched up the street to the entrance of the venue, where it greeted the event’s participants.
The protest was organized by Stop the JNF-Canada, Independent Jewish Voices – Canada, and representatives of groups from across Toronto, with over 30 groups participating in the event. It was held as a display of solidarity with peoples in Turtle Island (Canada), Palestine/Israel and elsewhere abroad who are dealing with the ongoing socially and environmentally destructive policies of the Harper government.
We must continue to oppose Harper’s policies that target the most vulnerable in society, and reward those who are some of the highest earners in the country. At the JNF gala, tables went for upwards of $100,000, with individual seats starting at $1,000 each. While charitable organizations like ‘Physicians for Global Survival’ and the ‘International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy, Canada’ have been stripped of their charitable status, extravagant and elitist galas raising money for covering up Palestinian dispossession can receive tax-deductible donations.
As Paul Di Stefano’s opinion piece on rabble—‘JNF honors Stephen Harper at Annual Gala, names bird sanctuary after PM’— states, the indigenous people of the Negev (al-Naqab), being the Arab Bedouin, are being expelled from their ancestral lands under the Prawer-Begin Plan. Up to 70,000 Bedouin will be evicted from their homes if the plan passes its third and final reading in the Knesset. In place of these Bedouin, the Jewish National Fund will plant forests and establish Jewish-only settlements. This is part of an active campaign by the JNF called ‘Blueprint Negev’, which seeks to ‘Judaize’ the region.
This mass eviction of the Arab Bedouin, who are citizens of Israel, seeks to urbanize them through forcing them to live in very impoverished townships, similar to Native reservations here in Canada. It is through the ongoing colonization of Palestine/Israel that we can see the clear parallels that exist here, in our own backyard, as the Auditor General has once again pointed to the completely inadequate funding structure for First Nations’ social well-being on reservations. Canada could only be established through evicting indigenous peoples from large swathes of land, and Canada continues to dispossess indigenous peoples through wide-scale resource extraction, from Elsipogtog First Nation to the Lubicon Cree First Nation.
We should build on the momentum of this important action against Stephen Harper and the Jewish National Fund, by continuing to support one another in struggles for indigenous rights in both Turtle Island and in Palestine/Israel.
Please take a moment to sign Independent Jewish Voices’ letter to the Minister of National Revenue and the Federal party leaders, urging the Minister to initiate the revocation of the JNF’s charitable status: http://ijvcanada.org/revoke-jnf-charitable-status-petition/.
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