JNF Board Member Quits Over Evictions

Categories: Letters From Leadership

This article originally appeared in The Jewish Daily Forward and is being reprinted here with permission of the author.

Some of my earliest Jewish memories involve dropping spare change in the Jewish National Fund’s iconic little blue boxes. I was proud that my money would help plant trees in Israel. The JNF, I knew, was making the desert bloom.

As an adult, I became a member of the organization’s Washington, D.C., board and moved from donating extra nickels to raising thousands of dollars for JNF.

Now, I regret to announce that this week I have resigned my board position and am severing all ties with the organization.

My commitment to building a safe and secure Israel has not changed. My admiration for much of JNF’s environmental work has not changed. What has changed is a sense of betrayal I have at learning that JNF is a force in preventing long-term peace.

This fall, a subsidiary of the Israeli branch of JNF launched eviction proceedings against the Sumarin family, who live in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Under Israel’s controversial “Absentee Property Law,” the state may reclaim homes whose owners were not present in 1967, when Israel took control of East Jerusalem. In the case of the Sumarin family, the children of the original owner, Musa Sumarin, were declared absentees after his death even though there were other family members living in the home at the time. In 1991, the Israeli government took the step of transferring the property to the JNF subsidiary.

I have learned that the action on the Sumarin home is not an isolated case. JNF has gained ownership of other Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and, in many instances, then transferred these properties through its subsidiaries to Elad, a settler organization whose purpose is to “Judaize” East Jerusalem.

In my eyes, the expulsion of the Sumarin family is a violation of human rights. But it is also part of the systematic transfer of Palestinian property to ideological settlers who wish to put facts on the ground that hinder a lasting peace agreement.

A few days before the proposed eviction, Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, in partnership with its counterpart in Israel, asked American Jews to write to the CEO of JNF requesting that he stop the eviction. More than 1,300 people responded. I believe that, like me, these writers felt deeply betrayed that the organization many of us have supported since our childhood would act in such unjust ways.

JNF’s initial response was to deny any involvement in the eviction. When legal papers that name a subsidiary of JNF as the initiator of the proceedings became public, the organization decided to postpone the eviction.
I hope that JNF will decide to cancel this eviction for good, and to refrain from pursuing additional such evictions. But I felt I had to resign now because senior people at JNF made clear to me that they still plan to get the Sumarin family out and transfer the property to Elad.

I have always supported Israel through organizations like JNF because I believe that the Jewish people have the right to a secure, democratic and peaceful homeland in Israel. And I strongly believe that the Palestinian people have the right to a secure, democratic and peaceful homeland in a neighboring Palestinian state. By supporting right-wing settlers in “Judaizing” Palestinian neighborhoods, JNF makes this vision harder to achieve. I fear that such actions endanger Israel’s future as a secure and democratic state.

My commitment to Israel remains strong. But I will invest my time and financial resources in organizations committed to peace, democracy and coexistence between peoples.

About Seth Morrison, Board Member

Seth Morrison has held leadership posts in various local, regional and national Jewish organizations starting in college as a youth leader in Young Judea. He is currently on the J Street Washington DC Metro Steering Committee, and he is active in LGBT organizations and local politics in Northern Virginia. He joined the pro-peace camp in the mid 80s, thanks to two dear friends. Gershon Baskin who facilitated Gilad Shalit’s release and Alon Tal who founded the Arava Institute, which brings Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians together for environmental studies. Morrison is the immediate past chair of the Friends of the Arava Institute. Professionally, Morrison is consulting in association marketing and management while seeing full time opportunities. Most recently, he was the SVP & General Manager of a trade association serving the cable television industry. As a marketer, he has been responsible for major local and national marketing, PR and social media campaigns for industry and non-profit organizations.
This entry was posted in Letters From Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to JNF Board Member Quits Over Evictions

  1. Zaddmip says:

    is there acetaminophen in oxycodone vicodin for sale street value of percocet 10 325 addiction to percocets. can i buy percocets online percocet deaths percocet street value 10 325 percoset 5mg . percocet in canada percocet pain medicine . oxycodone apap buy percocet without a prescription are percocet and oxycodone the same pain pills percocet dosage of percocet vicodin dosage

  2. Zolbup says:

    oxycontin india order oxycodone online legally . oxys for sale pain meds online without prescription buying pain pills buy oxynorm online is oxycodone addictive oxycontin 10 mg tablet . withdrawing from oxycontin what type of drug is oxycontin oxycontin extended release oxycontin doses. oxycodone without perscription how to order oxycodone online where to get painkillers online oxy cotton .

  3. Cippst says:

    xanax order online affects of xanax . xanax online australia getting xanax prescribed prescription for xanax why do people get prescribed xanax zanax medication xanax pregnancy . what is xanax prescribed for buy xanax overnight alprazolam for sale where to buy xanax uk. xanax usa buy xanax 2mg signs of xanax abuse online doctor for xanax .

  4. Roderick says:

    I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble. You are wonderful! Thanks!