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South Africa: Dissociate from Israel's JNF and "South Africa Forest"

South Africa: Dissociate from Israel's JNF and "South Africa Forest"
  
  

 


Why this is important

Monday the 10th of June 2013 saw the African premiere of the new documentary film,"Village Under the Forest", by Mark Kaplan and Heidi Grunebaum (www.villageunderforest.com).

"Village Under The Forest" explores, amongst other things, the role of the controversial Israeli-parastatal, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), in building a forest (the "South Africa Forest") over the Israeli-destroyed Palestinian village of Lubya (destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948, during the Palestinian "Nakba").

The JNF is celebrated by Israel and its supporters for its forest building work, however, the JNF is also criticized by human rights activists for its involvement in the Israeli oppression against the indigenous Palestinian people, and specifically the construction of forests on top of Israeli-destroyed Palestinian villages in an attempt to erase all traces of Palestinian life (www.stopthejnf.org).

Narrator and writer of "Village Under the Forest", Heidi Grunebaum, had visited the "South Africa Forest" in Israel in the mid-1980s but when she discovered the ruined Palestinian village of Lubya beneath South Africa Forest, she says, “it felt like the rug being pulled out from under my feet. I knew I’d been there before, but I’d had absolutely no understanding or ability to imagine then that my trees were erasing the presence of [the Palestinian] people who had lived there and been forcibly removed [by Israel]...the quiet violence of using trees to hide something felt like a deception.”

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), an Israeli-parastatal that also tries to operate as a charity in South Africa, has come under increasing protest by the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel movement for its involvement in the Israeli displacement, forced removals and oppression of the Palestinian people. Recently, after months of nationwide protests, South Africa's largest toy retailer, "Reggies", terminated its charity relationship with the JNF (www.bdssouthafrica.com/2011/01/press-release-safrican-toy-store.html)

Posted June 10, 2013
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