In a week from today, Dr. Janice Stein -- the Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management in the Department of Political Science and the founding director of the Munk School for Global Affairs at the University of Toronto -- will be speaking at an event put on by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Toronto. Independent Jewish Voices sent a letter to Dr. Stein on April 13, informing her of the discriminatory nature of the JNF, and urging her to distance herself from the organization. Below is the letter. We have not received any response from Dr. Stein, or any indication that the event has been cancelled. We encourage you to send Dr. Stein your own letter at [email protected].
Dear Ms. Stein,
We are writing to you as the Steering Committee of the national human rights organization Independent Jewish Voices -- Canada (IJV). IJV works to promote a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine based on the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties.
It has come to our attention that you will be speaking at an event put on by the Jewish National Fund of Toronto. We were disappointed to see that you, a political scientist of international renown, would associate with an organization that is complicit in the dispossession of countless Palestinians and the destruction of their villages, homes, orchards and farms. We implore you to read about the JNF through our website page, and judge for yourself whether the JNF is an organization that aligns with your values.
Here is the link: http://ijvcanada.org/what-is-the-jnf/.
We have embedded links to some of the many available sources that verify the disturbing nature of the JNF. We are particularly appalled that the JNF Canada -- a local branch of the Israeli quasi-governmental organization -- maintains charitable status through the Canada Revenue Agency.
We hope that you, as an expert in conflict management and resolution, would agree with us that bulldozing people’s homes, planting trees on their sites, and denying that villages once stood under deliberately cultivated forests and recreational parks, is not a recipe for resolving, let alone managing, disputes. If anything, these tactics serve to deepen the wounds of the dispossessed population, and to shield the privileged population from acknowledging the troubled history of the lands and resources which they use.
We yearn for an Israel-Palestine where the history of Palestinians in the land is acknowledged, and the crimes committed against them are accounted for. We yearn for a peace between Israelis and Palestinians that is rooted in truth and justice, so that a genuine process of reconciliation can lead to a future that grants equal worth and dignity to everyone -- be they Jewish-Israeli or Palestinian.
The JNF does not represent these values, which are essential for conflict resolution between Israelis and Palestinians. The JNF has chosen the path of outright denial, both of the history of dispossession and cover-up which plagues their projects, and of the rights of Palestinians in a land that must be shared. Rather than aiming to bridge this divide, the JNF insists that all of historic Palestine is the "Land of Israel" and hence belongs solely to the Jewish people. It maintains a land regime which prohibits the lease or sale of its lands to non-Jews, despite the fact that over 20 per cent of Israel’s citizenry is non-Jewish (and as you know, over 4.5 million Palestinians live under Israel’s sovereign control without citizenship rights).
We can, and we must, do better than this.
We hope you stand with us for truth, justice and peace, by refusing to stand alongside the JNF.
National Steering Committee
Independent Jewish Voices -- Canada
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