A member of the Washington, D.C. board of the Jewish National Fund has resigned over the JNF's involvement in eviction proceedings against an Arab family in Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood.
As reported in Haaretz last month, the JNF is involved in a legal action to evict 12 members of the Sumarin family through the organization's Himnuta subsidiary. Himnuta has been trying to get the family out of the house since the 1990s, claiming that it is the rightful owner.
The eviction action appears to be designed to turn the property over to Elad, an organization that encourages Jews to move into the predominantly Arab neighborhood, as it has done with other houses in the area.
After the Haaretz story, the left-wing groups Rabbis for Human Rights and the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement launched a campaign against the JNF, including its American affiliate. JNF then announced that the eviction would be delayed, although the organization reserves the right to pursue the eviction in the future.
The member of the Washington board of the JNF's American affiliate, Seth Morrison, said he resigned after he was told the JNF still intends to pursue the eviction.
Morrison said he understands that when people join an organization, they don't necessarily agree with everything it does. But there can come a point when people don't want their names associated with a group. He said his resignation from the board wasn't an easy one.
"Some of my earliest Jewish memories involve dropping spare change in the Jewish National Fund's iconic little blue boxes," Morrison wrote in the American Jewish weekly The Forward. "I was proud that my money would help plant trees in Israel. The JNF, I knew, was making the desert bloom."
According to Morrison, "Now, I regret to announce [that] I have resigned my board position and am severing all ties with the organization. My commitment to building a safe and secure Israel has not changed. My admiration for much of JNF's environmental work has not changed. What has changed is a sense of betrayal I have at learning that JNF is a force in preventing long-term peace."
The JNF said the court ordered the Sumarin family to leave the premises in 2006 and family members have rebuffed efforts to seriously discuss a resolution of the case.
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