Parks Authority Says JNF Campaign to Rehabilitate Carmel Is Misleading Public

The Jewish National Fund's fundraising campaign for the rehabilitation of the Carmel is confusing and misleading the public, Israel Nature and Parks Authority Director General Eli Amitay said in a letter Wednesday to the JNF, asking it to stop the campaign.

Amitay wrote that the public had the impression that contributions would go toward replanting, while in fact no such replanting is to take place during rehabilitation.

Most of the Carmel Forest is a national park under Parks Authority jurisdiction.

In addition to seeking contributions for what the JNF calls rehabilitation work, it has said it will be planting 1.5 million trees on Tu Bishvat - the Jewish equivalent of Arbor Day.

Amitay wrote JNF chairman Efi Stenzler that the campaign contradicts the policy of the Parks Authority, by which the forest and woodlands must be allowed to rejuvenate naturally, while clearing overgrown vegetation.

One expert at the JNF has also criticized the campaign to plant 1.5 million trees, noting that he is unaware that the JNF has that many saplings at its nurseries. However, another JNF expert said the contributions can be used for either planting or thinning out trees.

"If the director of the Parks Authority had known what was going on at the Parks Authority, many problems would be avoided, the most marginal of which is the fact that Amitay's got an 'impression,'" the JNF wrote. They also wrote that it was well known by everyone including the experts at the Parks Authority that the JNF will rehabilitate the Carmel and not plant this year, except for symbolic plantings.

"Contributions will be used for rehabilitation in cooperation with all the experts," they said.