Activists from the anti-occupation group Na’amod projected anti-annexation messages onto the buildings of the Foreign Office, the Jewish National Fund UK (JNF UK) and the Board of Deputies on Wednesday, protesting what they said was those institutions’ failure to take a firmer stance against Israeli policy in the West Bank.
Na’amod, an organisation of British Jews that opposes the occupation, said that the protest formed part of its #ActionsNotWords campaign “demanding that British Jewish institutions take action to oppose annexation.”
Among the messages that were projected onto the JNF UK building in Hendon was one accusing the organisation of “using our tzedakah to greenwash the occupation”, in an apparent reference to the JNF’s ecological initiatives.
Other messages called on British Jews to stop donating to JNF UK and made reference to a long-running eviction case brought against a Palestinian family in East Jerusalem.
Na’amod, in a press release, also accused JNF UK of having “refused to criticise the JNF in Israel for its attempts to evict a Palestinian family from their home in annexed East Jerusalem”.
The organisation referred to a 2011 statement in which JNF UK refused to back a campaign against the eviction of the Sumarin family in Silwan, Jerusalem.
Israeli courts heard the final appeal of the Sumarin family on June 30 and ruled that their property belonged to Himnuta, a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund.
Messages projected onto the Foreign Office building in Whitehall read: “British Jews demand and equality for Palestinians” and “The occupation is a moral crisis, British Jews demand #ActionsNotWords”.
Tamar Moshkovitz, a Na’amod member who was involved in organising the protest, accused communal leadership of looking at Israel “with rose-tinted glasses” and “ignoring the moral crisis of occupation”.
She added that: “Annexation could happen any day, and it is the result of 53 years of unchecked occupation. The Foreign Office, Board of Deputies and Jewish National Fund all have the power to take concrete steps to oppose the occupation, and help bring about the justice, peace and equality that everyone in Israel-Palestine deserves. Words are no longer enough. We need action.”
Na’amod is one of a number of organisations that have been campaigning against proposed Israeli annexations in the West Bank within the British Jewish community, and last month organised a petition calling on the British government to reject the appointment of new pro-annexation Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely.
A spokesperson for JNF UK firmly called Na’amod’s actions a “disingenuous stunt” by a “fringe group” and added: “British Jews are rightly proud that, through their generosity, for almost 120 years, JNF UK has been supporting projects that benefit all of Israel’s citizens, including minority communities.
“Na’amod claims that it is progressive, but evidently it is anything but. Rather than praising us for supporting all of Israel’s citizens, it complains about the location of our projects, despite the fact that they are situated within the Green Line — parts of Israel that only Hamas, Hizbollah and other extremists would consider to be ‘occupied’.
“Additionally, rather than respecting the decision of the Israeli courts against the Sumarin family, they call on us to try to interfere, knowing full well that we, JNF UK, have absolutely nothing to do with the Sumarin family, or their recent legal defeat."
The Board of Deputies declined to comment.