South Africans to protest toy store supporting ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Palestinians
The South African toy store “Reggies” is knowingly sponsoring an Israeli para-statal organisation, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which is directly involved in the forced removal and dispossession of the Palestinian people.
Despite numerous appeals to the director of Reggies, Mr Issy Zimmerman (who also owns the South African franchise of Toys’R’us) explaining and detailing the complicity of the JNF in Israeli human rights abuses, he not only refused to end his involvement with the JNF (a recipient of Reggies’ financial support) but threatened that he would intensify it.
In response, a group of concerned Jewish South Africans (who do not identify with the JNF nor Israel and its policies) spearheaded the creation of a local chapter of the international campaign called “Stop the JNF” (www.stopthejnf.org), which has now gained countrywide and broad-based support. As part of this campaign, on Sunday the 4th of November at 11h00 concerned South Africans of all races, religions and cultural backgrounds, will come together to protest against Reggies’ complicity in gross human rights violations and the crime of ethnic cleansing in their open and unabashed support for the JNF. Protests will be held outside selected Reggie’s stores in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.
We feel that it is unconscionable that while hundreds of Palestinian children are held in Israeli prisons, a toy shop that purportedly celebrates children, is knowingly supporting an Israeli para-statal complicit in gross human rights violations.
About the JNF
The JNF directly owns 13% of the land of the State of Israel. Since 1953 it has operated as a para-statal and appoints nearly half the board of the Israel Land Authority (ILA). The ILA then manages both the JNF’s 13% and an additional 80% of all land in the State of Israel. The JNF and the State of Israel thus control 93% of the total land in the State. The JNF has, since its inception in 1901, committed many human rights abuses including:
- the historic and on-going displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their land;
- the theft of Palestinian property;
- the concealment of destroyed Palestinian villages by building parks and forests over them;
- the funding of ethnically exclusive settlements solely for Jewish people;
- the destruction of the natural environment by, for example, the extensive planting of pine trees and other non-indigenous species and, in so doing, killing off the natural habitat and laying the ground for devastating fires.
The JNF, in close conjunction with the Israeli government and the implementation of its “Prawer Plan”, is currently involved in the expulsion of 30 000 Bedouin Palestinians because, as non-Jews, they are considered a demographic threat. In turn, the Israeli government and JNF plan to move 250 000 Jews into this area - even building these Israeli Jewish settlements on top of the recenlty destroyed Palestinian Bedouin villages!
Given the history of South Africa we find the current “Judaization” (to borrow a term from the Israeli government), which entails the expulsion of Palestinian citizens of Israel from their villages, to be inexcusable illegal evictions and mass displacement of people is still too fresh in our collective and individual memories. We insist that Reggies must have no relationship with these practices and the JNF.