Many of us recall childhoods spent collecting coins for the Jewish National Fund’s famous little blue boxes. The money in the boxes, we were were told, would go towards planting trees that would “make the desert bloom” in Israel. But what we didn’t know was that from the founding of the Jewish state, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) was planting forests in order to mask and excuse the destruction of Palestinian villages and expropriation of Palestinian land. The JNF continues this practice today. On January 16, Israeli authorities demolished the Israeli Bedouin village of Al Araqib for the ninth time in the past six months in order to build a forest for the JNF. Bulldozers from the Israel Land Administration remain on the villagers’ land, even though the demolitions are completed.
Tu B’shvat is a Jewish holiday known as the New Year of the Trees. JNF tree planting ceremonies on stolen land are now ubiquitous as a way to mark this holiday. This Tu B’shvat, please affirm that planting forests on top of uprooted communities is not the Jewish way. Click here to sign a petition of protest to the JNF initiated by Jewish Alliance for Change. We also urge you to send an email to Caterpillar on the US Campaign to End the Occupation site. Caterpillar is the US company that provides Israel with bulldozers that destroy Palestinian trees and homes.
May the seeds of action we plant this Tu B’shvat bear fruit soon and in our own day.
In Justice and Peace,
Rabbi Brant Rosen,
Chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council