Last week, a CBC exposé revealed that the Jewish National Fund of Canada has been the subject of a Canada Revenue Agency audit over a complaint that it used charitable donations to build infrastructure for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), in violation of Canada’s tax rules, and to support illegal settlement projects in the Occupied West Bank.
Created to purchase land for a Jewish State in Palestine, the JNF is today the largest single landowner in Israel. Most commonly known for its century-old campaign to “make the desert bloom,” the JNF is not a public body in Israel but a private corporation whose lands were obtained through exploitative land sales and often-violent, forced removals of Palestinians from their lands. While the JNF has planted millions of trees—a remarkable environmental achievement—it has also used its forests to keep Palestinians off the lands taken from them. In Israel, the JNF has been charged with corruption by the State Comptroller and faced High Court challenges due to its explicitly discriminatory practices.
In Canada, the JNF’s fundraising branch, JNF Canada, raises millions of dollars for its projects in Israel/Palestine each year which are tax deductible due to JNF Canada’s charitable status.
In the words of the CBC report:
[The JNF Canada has] funded infrastructure projects on Israeli army, air and naval bases. While no law bars a Canadian citizen from writing a cheque directly to Israel’s Ministry of Defence, rules do ban tax-exempt charities from issuing tax receipts for such donations, and also ban donors from claiming tax deductions for them. …
In its guide for Canadian registered charities carrying out activities outside Canada, the CRA states plainly that “increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Canada’s armed forces is charitable, but supporting the armed forces of another country is not.”
Yet JNF documents describe some of the charity’s spending in Israel in those very terms.
Independent Jewish Voices released a media release in response to the CBC’s report, saying, “A comprehensive complaint has been filed with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regarding the Jewish National Fund of Canada (JNF Canada). The complaint, submitted in October 2017 with the support of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), presents detailed evidence that JNF Canada works in violation of the Income Tax Act and in contravention of Canadian foreign policy in various ways.”
Despite multiple letters and complaints sent to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and to Ministers of National Revenue over the last four decades—expressing strong concerns about the Jewish National Fund of Canada’s (JNF Canada) violations—the organization maintains its registered status with the CRA. It appears that JNF Canada has not even received any penalties from the CRA.
Independent Jewish Voices has launched a new Stop the JNF Canada website where you can take action to revoke the JNF Canada’s charitable status and expose, challenge and stop the JNF’s discriminatory and harmful activities.
If you are resident of Canada or a citizen of Canada living either in Canada or abroad, take a moment now to add your name to the Parliamentary E-Petition to call for the revocation of JNF Canada’s charitable status!
Once you’ve signed the petition, you can also help spread the word about the campaign, sign up for campaign updates, read IJV’s policy recommendations, read answers to frequently asked questions about the JNF Canada, and read, watch, and listen to more information about the JNF Canada.
Please take action now! In the words of Dr. Ismail Zayid, a Halifax-based retired professor who was expelled from his home and whose entire village was demolished in 1967 for what became JNF Canada’s flagship project, Canada Park, along with a new adjacent Israeli settlement, “I along with several others have been complaining to the CRA about the JNF for nearly four decades now. It’s about time that the CRA acted on its own rules and regulations and revoked the JNF Canada’s charitable status.”