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Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2008 12:52:24 -0400
To: “Maurice Ostroff”
Subject: weight of evidence & sincere exchange
All of the factual assertions about the JNF contained in our article are based on a large body of published research, a small (and by no
means exhaustive) selection of which can be found at
Your claim, for example, that the JNF has never been involved in expulsions flies in the face of multiple eye-witness accounts confirming that civilians were militarily expelled from lands now
occupied by JNF “projects”. Profiting (through land acquisition) from such ethnic cleansing makes the JNF complicit with those war crimes.
It does not seem productive to engage in discussion with someone who willfully ignores such well-documented facts.
You will note that the list of sources cited above includes both media reports and scholarly publications which are easily available to you
in Israel; the fact that you have chosen to ignore this weight of evidence when writing to us suggests that you are not truly interested (as you claim) in open intellectual exchange. Accordingly, I will not
engage in further correspondence with you on this subject, and I suggest that my colleagues also consider refraining from replying to someone whose choices have shown him to be so clearly biased from the outset.
June 26, 2008
Thank you for your email. I regret that you have already decided that I am not truly interested in open intellectual exchange and I do hope that your judgments in more weighty matters are not made in a similar hasty manner.
I cannot claim to have read every word in the large number of documents you quoted, but from those that I have studied so far, I find no reference to the JNF having expelled anyone and I will appreciate it if you will please quote a specific reference justifying this allegation.
It is of course true that Canada Park is situated on what were three Palestinian Arab villages ‘Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba. Tragically, as described in the 1967 eye-witness account by Amos Kenan, on the web site of Uri Davis, (an advocate of boycotting Israel and one of the authorities quoted by you), the villages were razed in the wake of the 1967 six day war, rightly or wrongly, for military reasons.
Kenan writes “We were told it was our job to search the village houses: that if we found any armed men there, they were to be taken prisoner. Any unarmed persons should be given time to pack their belongings and then told to get moving ..The children wept, and some of the soldiers wept too. We went to look for water but found none. We stopped an army vehicle in which sat a Lieutenant-Colonel, two Captains and a woman. We took a gerry-can of water from them and tried to make it go round among the refugees. We handed out sweets and cigarettes. More of our soldiers wept. We asked the officers why the refugees were being sent back and forth and driven away from everywhere they went. For the Palestinians the land the Park sits on represents their birth right. For the Israelis the security of their nation”.
As a layman, I am unable to judge the military considerations that led to late Prime Minister Yitzhaq Rabin’s decision as Chief-of-Staff to order the destruction of these villages But it is absolutely clear that the emptying of these villages was neither instigated by, nor carried out by the JNF.
However you do raise the valid ethical question, about the morality of a third party using property gained originally by another party by expropriation and I have sympathy for your views. Canada Park is one example. Another is the Kouchibouguac National Park in New Brunswick. According to BC News, the expropriation of 10 Acadian villages to create the park caused enormous disruption in the lives of more than 1,000 people whose families had fished and farmed the land for generations. http://tinyurl.com/4bz9yh
According to the First Nations web site http://www.firstnations.eu/ the calamitous degradation of the natural environment in British Columbia, Canada, in particular the clearcutting of primaeval forests, has gone hand in hand with the displacement of the aboriginal inhabitants – First Nations – from their homelands and the desecration of their cultures. In fact, the most shameful consequence of colonial greed in destroying the natural world for “a quick buck” has been the pushing of indigenous peoples to the edge of destitution.
Mr.Heap, you may be correct in suspecting me of bias. Very few people can be 100% objective, but I do try to understand another’s point of view and I do not think I am being unreasonable in asking whether you are adopting a completely unbiased attitude in seeking out every Israeli wart, while excusing similar lapses by others.
If you change your mind about exchanging ideas with me, I will welcome your considered response.