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Protesters Demand Canada Revoke Jewish National Fund’s Charity Status

Above photo: Protesters greeted Manitoba’s Lieutenant Governor Anita Neville when she attended a Jewish National Fund dinner in May 2023. Lawrence Sutherland.

More than 50 people danced the dabke and flashed peace signs at a peaceful demonstration against the Jewish National Fund (JNF) at the organization’s annual Manitoba fundraising dinner in mid-May.

The JNF Canada website states: “JNF Canada envisions a world where Israel’s communities are supported and healthy, and where generous Canadians can help us build strong foundations for Israel to thrive.” JNF acquires and develops land in Israel and the occupied territories used for settlements, illegal under international law. In 1972 JNF Canada raised $15 million to create Canada Park. The park is made up of more than 5 million trees planted atop the ruins of three Arab villages destroyed in the Six-Day War. Today the apartheid wall prevents Palestinians living in the West Bank from visiting Canada Park.

The Winnipeg protest, organized by Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), included participants from the Mennonite Church Palestine-Israel Network (MCPIN), Peace Alliance Winnipeg, United Jewish People’s Order (UJPO), Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (WCAIA) and members of the local Palestinian community. Demonstrators had one central message to the federal government: revoke the JNF’s charitable status.

Those in attendance at the spring fundraiser could not ignore the protest right before their eyes. The event’s venue—on the main floor of a building with a large street-facing window—meant many protesters took the opportunity to get up close and personal with the gala’s guests enjoying a cocktail hour.

Protesters missed the opportunity to confront the event’s guest of honor, Israel booster and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In 2014 Harper visited the West Bank to lay the cornerstone for the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Center. During that visit he was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University.

Demonstrators did have a chance to greet Manitoba’s Lieutenant Governor Anita Neville. When she arrived at the event, Neville was surrounded by protesters and greeted with messages like “Apartheid,” “Silence is Compliance” and “JNF: Stop Colonizing Palestine.”

Participants also engaged passersby and those entering the soiree about Canada’s ongoing support for Israel through the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) and Canadian weapons sales to Israel.

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