Sunday, October 20, 2013

Different Standards?

In Canada ( and many other countries) it is illegal to restrict the sale of property to certain ethnic or religious groups.

 In 1948 Annie Noble decided to sell a cottage in the exclusive Beach O’ Pines subdivision on Lake Huron to Bernie Wolf, who was Jewish. During the sale Wolf’s lawyer realized that the original deed for the property contained the following clause: “The lands and premises herein described shall never be sold, assigned, transferred, leased, rented or in any manner whatsoever alienated to, and shall never be occupied or used in any manner whatsoever by any person of the Jewish, Negro or coloured race or blood, it being the intention and purpose of the Grantor, to restrict the ownership, use, occupation and enjoyment of the said recreational development, including the lands and premises herein described, to persons of the white or Caucasian race.”Noble and Wolf tried to get the court to declare the restriction invalid but they were opposed by the Beach O’ Pines Protective Association. Both a Toronto court and the Ontario Court of Appeal refused to invalidate the racist covenant. But, Noble pursued the case – with assistance from the Canadian Jewish Congress – to the Supreme Court of Canada. In a 6-to-1 decision the highest court reversed the lower courts’ ruling and allowed Noble to sell the property to Wolf.

The Jewish National Fund, which owns 13 percent of Israel’s land and has significant influence over most of the rest possesses bylaws and lease documents that contain a restrictive covenant stating its property will not be leased to non-Jews. A 1998 United Nations Human Rights Council report found that the JNF systematically discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 percent of the country’s population. According to the UN report, JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination.” Similarly, after an Arab Israeli couple was blocked from leasing a house in the mid-1990s they took their case all the way to Israel’s High Court and in 2005 the court found that the JNF systematically excluded Palestinian citizens of Israel from leasing its property.

The US State Department’s 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices detailed “institutional and societal discrimination” in Israel. The report noted, “Approximately 93 percent of land was in the public domain, including approximately 12.5 percent owned by the NGO Jewish National Fund (JNF), whose statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews.”

The JNF stated it "is not the trustee of the general public in Israel. Its loyalty is given to the Jewish people in the Diaspora and in the state of Israel... The JNF, in relation to being an owner of land, is not a public body that works for the benefit of all citizens of the state. The loyalty of the JNF is given to the Jewish people and only to them is the JNF obligated. The JNF, as the owner of the JNF land, does not have a duty to practice equality towards all citizens of the state."

In 2005, Israel's Attorney General ruled that lease restrictions violated Israeli anti-discrimination laws, and that the ILA could not discriminate against Arab citizens of Israel in the marketing and allocation of the lands it managed; this applied both to government lands and to lands belonging to the JNF. However, the Attorney General also decided that, whenever a non-Jewish citizen wins an ILA tender for a plot of JNF-owned land, the ILA would compensate the JNF with an equal amount of land. This would allow the JNF to maintain its current hold over 2,500 km2 of land thus ensuring the total amount of land owned by Jewish Israelis remains the same.

The JNF’s bylaws and operations clearly violate Canadian law. Yet JNF Canada, which raises about $7 million annually, is a registered charity in this country. As such, it can provide tax credits for donations.

In 2011, Stop the JNF in the UK pushed Prime Minister, David Cameron, to withdraw his patron status from the JNF. Additionally, at least 68 members of the UK parliament have endorsed a call to revoke the organization’s charitable status because “the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews.”

 In 2012 the Green Party called for the JNF to be stripped of its charity status which it calls the charity "racist".

From here

1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

20% of the Israeli citizens are non-Jewish. It is not only its Palestinian-Israelis who are affected by this discrimination but the Bedouin Arabs in the Negev. I emphasise - legal citizens of Israel. In Israel one section of its population is treated with unfair preferential treatment. I suggest when you make accusations of racism it is better aimed.

This blog has repeatedly drawn attention to the land-grabbing in Africa, perpetuated with the complicity of the likes of the Kenyan government and the corrupt personal enrichment of their political elite.

As socialists we are not limited by borders and frontiers in our criticisms. The working class is a world-wide class.