Campaign group appeals regulator's refusal to remove pro-Israel charities

Stop the JNF lodges appeal with the charity tribunal after the Charity Commission ruled the three organisations were established for exclusively charitable purposes

Stop the JNF
Stop the JNF

The international campaign group Stop the JNF has lodged an appeal with the charity tribunal against the Charity Commission’s decision not to remove the Jewish National Fund Charitable Trust and two affiliated charities from its register.

In March 2013, the commission received an application from Stop the JNF to remove from the register the JNFCT, which raises funds for causes in Israel, the Jewish National Fund Educational Trust, which educates people about Israel and Judaism, and KKL Charity Accounts, which drafts wills and helps people to donate to charity.

The JNFCT’s income for the year 2012 was £17.5m, which included the entire £9.9m income of KKL Charity Accounts. The JNFET is dormant, according to its listing on the charity register, and has had no income for five years.

Stop the JNF said in its application to the commission that the charities were racist and claimed they were sham charities, were involved in violations of human rights and international law, and that their aims were not for public benefit.

The commission rejected this application, saying all three were established for exclusively charitable purposes and should not be removed from the register.

But the Charity Commission also submitted concerns to its operations team that the charities were not compliant with the Equality Act 2010.

Stop the JNF then resubmitted an application along the same lines; this was also rejected on 18 December 2013 and the decision published on 31 January 2014.

John Nicholson of Stop the JNF has now lodged an appeal with the charity tribunal against the commission’s decisions.

The Charity Commission has 28 days from 11 March, when the appeal was lodged, to respond. The charity tribunal aims to conclude all appeals within 30 weeks.

A Stop the JNF spokesman said: "We stand by our original submission that the Charity Commission ought to remove the three sham charities from the register.

"There is overwhelming evidence that they are carrying out activities in Israel-Palestine that, if carried out on British soil, would land them in the dock of a UK court."

The spokesman said Stop the JNF had very little faith in the Charity Commission under the chairmanship of William Shawcross, who he said had a record of "militant pro-Israeli advocacy".

Samuel Hayek, chair of the JNFCT, said: "It is always saddening when political campaigners seek to obstruct important charitable work because of a misplaced and skewed sense of injustice. The Charity Commission has made its position explicitly clear in favour of the vital work JNF UK has been doing for more than a century.

"Our efforts and focus remain on the humanitarian and environmental work we do for all the people of Israel, of which we are so proud."

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