The Jewish Civic Armamentarium of Canada, one of the country’s accepted charities, has been the accountable of a Canada Acquirement Agency audit over a complaint that it acclimated accommodating donations to body basement for the Israel Defence Armament (IDF), in abuse of Canada’s tax rules.
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The JNF funds abundant projects in Israel, such as reforestation efforts in areas hit by wildfires and the architecture of playgrounds for appropriate needs children.
However, it has additionally adjourned basement projects on Israeli army, air and argosy bases. While no law confined a Canadian aborigine from autograph a cheque anon to Israel’s Ministry of Defence, rules do ban tax-exempt charities from arising tax receipts for such donations, and additionally ban donors from claiming tax deductions for them.
The organization, which appear to donors aftermost year that it has been beneath analysis by the Canada Acquirement Agency, said it chock-full allotment those projects in 2016.
That would not assure it from action by the Canada Acquirement Agency (CRA), which in August revoked the accommodating cachet of an Ottawa abbey for announcement “hate and intolerance” by agreeable arguable speakers, and for banking irregularities that took abode amid 2009 and 2014 beneath a antecedent accumulation of directors.
In its adviser for Canadian registered charities accustomed out activities alfresco Canada, the CRA states audibly that “increasing the capability and ability of Canada’s armed armament is charitable, but acknowledging the armed armament of addition country is not.”
Yet JNF abstracts call some of the charity’s spending in Israel in those actual terms.
One JNF Canada certificate alleged “Project Opportunities” refers to an “outdoor fettle breadth at a Gadna aggressive base,” anecdotic Israel’s Gadna affairs as “a appropriate affairs for adolescent bodies in Israel that prepares them for their account in the Israel Defence Forces.” The action included “a fettle breadth for the approved army agents at the Gadna abject in Sde Boker.”
Documents produced by JNF Canada’s Israeli ancestor organization, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF), afford added ablaze on aggressive projects adjourned by its Canadian affiliate.
They accommodate developing “the new planned IDF Training Abject City in the Negev” desert, “helping the development of the Bat Galim training abject circuitous area” at Bat Galim Argosy Base, “helping to facilitate the advancement of the absolute amphitheater for soldier intake, training and conferences” at the aforementioned abject and a new “moadon” or blend hall-type ability for the 124th (Blackhawk) Helicopter Squadron at Palmachim Air Force Abject (“where aggregation can relax and refuel”), as able-bodied as a agnate ability for 131 Squadron at Nevatim Air Force Base.
The argumentation abaft the CRA’s advice to charities is that arising Canadian tax receipts for contributions to adopted militaries finer reduces the acquirement accessible to abutment Canada’s own defence spending.
In 2014, JNF Edmonton’s Negev Gala banquet was serenaded by associates of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band. According to JNF Edmonton’s Facebook page, “proceeds from (2014’s) Negev Gala will advance three areas of the Negev’s Tse’elim army base, the better aggressive training ability in Israel. The action will advancement and mural the ancestors visiting area, assimilation and absolution ability and the barracks’ capital plaza. The abject is the civic centre for arena armament training.”
JNF Canada beneath an account appeal for this story, but CEO Lance Davis told CBC News in an email that while the alignment has adjourned projects that abutment the IDF in the past, it chock-full accomplishing so in 2016 afterwards actuality abreast of the CRA guidance.
“To be clear, we no best armamentarium projects amid on IDF acreage and JNF Canada operates in accordance with CRA regulations administering its cachet as a accommodating organization,” Davis wrote in the email.
Greening the land
Megan McKenzie says she aboriginal came beyond the Jewish Civic Armamentarium back she was planning a bequeathal in anamnesis of her alfresco Jewish grandmother. The Jewish Civic Armamentarium is acclaimed for burying trees, “greening the acreage of Israel.”
McKenzie is a able advocate and battle adviser who is affiliated to a Canadian soldier and lives at CFB Shilo in Manitoba. Having formed in battle resolution from Ireland to DR Congo, she said was “dumbfounded” to acquisition that the JNF was complex in projects she believed did not accommodate to Canada’s charitable rules.
“I accept a PhD and I’m array of a accustomed researcher and so I did some online research,” she said. “And the added I did, the added afraid I was.”
McKenzie’s online analysis led her to webpages for both JNF Canada and its ancestor organization giving all-encompassing capacity on the charity’s abutment for the Israeli aggressive and its reforestation projects that accept sprawled beyond the 1949 ceasefire band (the “Green Line”) into alive West Bank territory.
In the case of the JNF’s Canada Park project, alive acreage forested by the JNF was amid on the Israeli ancillary of the barrier Israel congenital to abstracted its citizens from the Palestinian citizenry in the West Bank.
A new complaint
Canada Park was JNF Canada’s aboriginal ample action in Israel and the West Bank, congenital on the armpit of three Palestinian villages larboard abandoned afterwards 1967’s Six Day War.
Retired physician Ismail Zayid of Halifax was built-in in one of those villages, Beit Nuba. He has been accusatory to CRA about JNF’s accommodating cachet for 40 years.
“I wrote to (the CRA) repeatedly,” he said. “They would say they are administering an analysis of (the) complaint, and afresh I would address afresh and say, ‘What are the allegation of your investigation?’ And they would say, ‘The allegation are confidential.'”
In October 2017, Zayid filed a new academic complaint, this time in concert with an Ottawa professor, a Vancouver clergyman and a retired assistant from Montreal and application some of McKenzie’s analysis (the complaint has been backed by the activist alignment Independent Jewish Voices Canada, which has army a “Stop the JNF Canada” campaign). The CRA appears so far to accept taken no action adjoin the charity, although it has subjected JNF to an audit.
The CRA beneath to be interviewed for this story, citation confidentiality. But JNF Canada’s Davis said in an email to CBC News the alms is “currently affianced in advancing arcane discussions with CRA.” Davis absolved the complaint as “a rehash” and alleged IJVC “a longstanding adversary of JNF.”
Building in the West Bank
The 2017 complaint includes new advice about JNF’s contributions to Israeli aggressive basement projects and its captivation in architecture in the West Bank.
Canada clearly opposes Israeli settlement-building in alive territory. CRA action account CSP-P13 states: “The courts accept captivated that an alignment is not accommodating in law if its activities are adverse to accessible policy.”
Canada states its position on settlements on Global Affairs Canada’s website: “Israeli settlements in the alive territories are a abuse of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements additionally aggregate a austere obstacle to accomplishing a comprehensive, aloof and abiding peace.”
JNF Canada missions in Israel additionally accept contributed anon to the architecture of at atomic one acropolis face beginning that was declared actionable by the State of Israel itself. Givat Oz VeGaon received and abandoned at atomic 18 annihilation orders from the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
A JNF Canadian Adolescent Leadership Solidarity Mission visited the armpit in August-September 2014 and formed with picks and shovels “to adapt the arena for architecture a residential assemblage to be acclimated by the aegis guard.”
‘KKL for IDF’
In a 2014 certificate produced by the JNF Canada’s ancestor organization, the Israeli JNF’s Resources and Development Division lists a dozen “KKL for IDF” projects over the antecedent decade as “Canada-sponsored,” mostly in the aeon 2011-14.
One JNF Canada certificate from 2014 offers donors the adventitious to participate in the architecture of a “meeting point” to accredit soldiers to see ancestors associates while on alive service. Canadian donors are additionally arrive to armamentarium a 900-metre “security road” at Kadesh Barne’a abreast the Egyptian bound that “will advance admission to the breadth for aegis forces.”
A KKL-JNF certificate describes its anchorage in the western Negev as “security anchorage which serve the armed armament that convoying the bound zones … All the assignment undertaken by KKL-JNF is accommodating with the IDF … Thanks to these roads, aggressive action is enhanced.”
‘Improving the affection of lives of Israelis’
In an email to CBC News, Davis said these projects were aloof allotment of the works adjourned by JNF Canada.
“Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, JNF Canada has played an important role in a advanced ambit of projects in Israel. We have, for example, accurate the architecture of baptize reservoirs, collaborated with dozens of educational institutions, congenital abundant recreational/educational facilities, buried millions of copse and accurate beat analysis in blooming technology,” he said.
“In befitting with our mission of convalescent the affection of lives of Israelis, we accept in the accomplished adjourned projects of a accommodating attributes that alongside complex the IDF. These projects were congenital on acreage endemic by the IDF primarily for the account of accouchement and youth. Back it came to our absorption several years ago that acknowledging these types of projects may not be in befitting with CRA policies, we chock-full allotment them.”
In a consecutive email, Davis said that “the aftermost action we adjourned was in June 2016 and it was directed to the Hatzerim Airforce Abject for a playground/soccer acreage for the accouchement active on the base.”
Hatzerim is home to the Israeli Air Force’s flight academy and three action squadrons.
Low marks for transparency
Kate Bahen active Alms Intelligence, a Toronto-based NGO that produces a address appraisement Canadian charities on their accuracy and ability in spending donors’ money.
“When you attending at JNF Canada, it’s accomplished for amount efficiency,” said Bahen. “It actually avalanche bottomward on banking accuracy and accountability. For banking transparency, it gets zero.”
Bahen said the alms has done the appropriate affair by advice to donors that it’s actuality audited, but it is “an absolute atramentous box” back it comes to accouterment a breakdown of how its money is spent.
“Any Canadian donor who knows of JNF automatically thinks of burying trees. And there is a lot added to JNF than burying trees.
“We accept actually no advice on how abundant it’s spent burying trees, how abundant goes for irrigation, or education, or how abundant is absent to aggressive bases. And that information, I think, is critical, and it’s not provided to Canadian donors.”
Support in Canada
JNF has had able relations with alternating Conservative and Liberal governments. One of its contempo projects in Israel is the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary in Galilee. Addition is John Baird Park in Sderot.
Although the accumulation enjoyed decidedly able links with the Harper government, it additionally has been abutting to the Trudeau government.
Last July, Ralph Goodale, Canada’s abbot of Accessible Safety, buried a pistachio timberline at the JNF’s VIP Timberline Burying Center in Jerusalem. He was accompanied by adolescent Liberal MP Michael Levitt, a above lath affiliate of JNF Canada.
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