An investigative report by CBC journalist Evan Dyer has discovered that The Jewish National Fund of Canada, one of the country’s long-established charities, has been the subject of a Canada Revenue Agency audit over complaints it violated Canada’s tax rules. A petition is circulating demanding that JNF be stripped of charity status if the audit confirms the law has been broken. Read more.
The Jewish National Fund of Canada is one of Canada’s oldest charitable organizations, raising $13 million in 2017 through donations and special events. It is has a 40 person staff in 9 regional offices. (According to Charity Intelligence Canada, a review agency, its well-connected and high powered CEO earns in excess of $350,000 annually.)
For decades JNF Canada has presented itself as “the caretaker of the land of Israel”, planting trees, building water reservoirs, preparing land for new communities, and building parks and bicycle trails. While a few wealthy donors account for a large part of its revenues, a considerable amount is also raised by individual donations through a “blue box” campaign which appeals mostly to Canadian Jewish families.
But after JNF Canada transfers its money to its parent organization in Israel, things get murky. Charity Intelligence Canada points out that JNF Canada is a very secretive organization, giving it a grade of C- on ‘transparency’. ‘JNF Canada is an ‘utter black box’ when it comes to saying where its money is spent,” Kate Bahen, CEO of Charity Intelligence told CBC journalist Evan Dyer.
Human rights organizations have long complained that a lot of the money collected by JNF Canada is actually used in Israel to plant trees and build parks ON TOP OF Palestinian villages which have been demolished by the Israeli military. One of the most egregious examples is the well known “Canada Park”, built on top of three villages destroyed in 1967. While Israeli forces successfully destroyed the 3 villages, they have not succeeded in erasing the memory of the towns, however.
Another JNF project with a Canadian connection is the Stephen J. Harper bird sanctuary in the Hula Valley in the north of Israel, from which Palestinian Bedouins were expelled in 1948.
Surprising link between JNF Canada and the Israeli military
However, the new revelations in the same CBC report indicate that JNF Canada, in direct violation of Canadian tax guidelines, has sponsored or funded many projects which support the Israeli military.
Megan McKenzie, who lives in Shiloh, Manitoba says she first came across the Jewish National Fund when she was planning a bequest in memory of her nature-loving Jewish grandmother. However, she said was “dumbfounded” to find that the JNF was involved in projects she believed did not conform to Canada’s charitable rules.
McKenzie’s online research on JNF Canada’s parent organization JNF-KKL uncovered extensive details on the charity’s support for the Israeli military, including work on several IDF bases and even contributing to the building of a “security road.”
Petition boosts “Stop the JNF campaign”
In Canada, Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV-C) has launched a petition calling on the “Minister of National Revenue to revoke JNF Canada’s charitable status if (it is) found to be in violation of the Income Tax Act and CRA guidelines and policies.”
“In a little under a week, over 1200 signatures have already been gathered,” notes Corey Balsam, national coordinator for IJV Canada.
The campaign undertaken by IJV in Canada is part of a world wide Stop the JNF campaign, which has had activities in the UK, Germany, France and elsewhere
“If the Canada Revenue Agency revoked JNF’s charitable status it would boost Stop the JNF campaigns elsewhere,” according to Canadian researcher Yves Engler. In the United Kingdom, former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron withdrew as patron of the JNF and 68 members of parliament have called for a revocation of the organization’s charitable status in that country.
So far, the Canada Revenue Agency has kept the results of its audit secret. But more transparency would seem to be in order both from JNF Canada and from Revenue Canada.
Anyone who agrees that the JNF should have its charity status revoked if the audit finds it is in violation of Canadian law, can sign the IJV “Stop the JNF e-Petition.
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I can only imagine the hue and cry that would be raised if a pro-Palestinian Canadian non-profit were to raise funds to assist Palestinians in continuing their attempt to exercise their right of return to their original Palestinian homes and villages.
UNRWA is exactly that, it exists to make the Palestinian permanent refugees, so they won’t become citizens in Jordan and Lebanon so they never give up the “right of return”
And the Canadian government IS paying for UNRWA with your tax money
Why should anyone give up a right.
Beacaose it’s not a right it’s a fantasy.
Resolution 194 is non binding, is predicated upon the Palestinian willingness to live in peace next to their neighbors (which obviously they chose not to over the last 70years) and was limited to the original refugees.
Hey Arnon, I’m confused by your statement that the Palestinians have “obviously chosen not” to live in peace with their neighbours. What are you basing that on? Were they ever invited back? My understanding is that whenever they try to go back, they are repelled by force.
I believe you are right that Resolution 194 is non binding, however. Neither is the common injunction “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” binding. But most civilisations, and most civilised people believe in it. How about you? Do you accept that idea? Do you think Israel should? Or, does it get a pass?
The Palestinians refugees objected to resolution 194 when it was still relevant, the Arab countries voted unanimously against it.
This is evident of their choice not to accept a peaceful coexistence with their neighbouring Jews
Israel does not and should not get a pass on anything
Hey Arnon, when did the Palestinian refugees object to resolution 194? The Arab countries did vote against it, of course. (Israel also opposed it.) But as you know, 194 which supported the right of return, also accepted the establishment of Israel which the Arab states had opposed in the first place. So naturally they voted against it.
But the main issue here, is not what was voted or not in 194. It is what is fair, and decent and just now. This is an issue of ethics and morals. Where do you stand on that. Should those who were expelled be allowed to return and be compensated for their loss?
Yes, a friend and I were discussing the CBC report the other day — which I was unaware of from the media. Odd don’t you think? But perhaps the matter is so sensitive to most media that they self-censor so we do not get the rounded picture that you help us keep. Thank you Peter. Paul
Reblogged this on QCpal.
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