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Liberal Jewish groups threaten boycott of JNF-KKL if it buys West Bank land

Two dozen international liberal Jewish organizations sent a letter to the chairman of the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemeth Leisrael Sunday threatening a boycott if the agency moves ahead with its plans to purchase land in the West Bank.

“If this decision is not rejected and reversed by the Board of JNF-KKL, we pledge to lend no further support to the JNF-KKL,” the groups wrote in their letter to Avraham Duvdevani, according to a copy obtained by the Forward. “We have a collective obligation to ensure that our philanthropy, educational programs and communal impact in no way legitimizes or contributes to the expansion of Israel’s settlement enterprise in the West Bank.

The letter was organized by organizations including J Street, Americans for Peace Now, T’ruah, the New Israel Fund, Habnonim Dror and affiliates of the Reform movement. The coalition included organizations based on five continents and was also signed by roughly 7,000 individuals.

The JNF-KKL’s board voted in February to spend $11.7 million on land in the West Bank and the letter comes ahead of its meeting this weekend to finalize the decision and determine its policies toward land beyond the Green Line.

“Your decision to use JNF-KKL funds to expand Israel’s settlement footprint sets back the chances of a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and irrevocably harms the credibility of the Jewish National Fund in Jewish communities around the world,” the letter stated.

The decision to purchase land beyond Israel’s borders came during a contentious meeting in which left-wing members of the board accused Duvdevani of preventing some individuals from speaking and rushing to a vote, according to the Times of Israel. The motion passed by one vote after some organizations that were expected to oppose it abstained or voted in favor.

The land purchases have been the subject of controversy in recent years, with liberal Zionist groups pushing back against the rising influence of right-wing factions with organizations like JNF-KKL and its parent group the World Zionist Organization.

The full list of the organizations that signed the letter is: the American and French affiliates of Peace Now; J Street; T’ruah; New York Jewish Agenda; New Israel Fund and its Canadian and Australian affiliates; the Jewish Democratic Initiative in South Africa; Yachad in the United Kingdom; RSY-NETZER: The Zionist Youth Movement for Reform Judaism and its South African affiliate; the U.K. affiliate of the Israeli Meretz party; Habonim Dror’s North American, U.K. and Australian affiliates, as well as its umbrella organization; JCALL, a European group; JSpace Canada; Noam: Masorti Youth in Israel and J-Amlat, which is based in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Israel, Mexico and Uruguay.

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