Hidden Horrors: The True Purpose of Israel’s National Forests

March 1, 2017

jaba-haifa-061129-01In her book Visual Occupations: Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone, author Gil Z. Hochberg discusses the “blinding mechanisms” employed to erase the memory of desolate settlements that were once inhabited by Palestinians until they were forced out during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Aside from resignification, the process by which Palestinian ruins are transformed into biblical symbols, the other primary method used by Zionists to remove any trace of Palestinian heritage in Israel is tree planting, which conceals Palestinian ruins from public view. The Jewish National Fund is responsible for creating national forests, along with encouraging Jewish settlement in Palestine. According to the JNF website (found here), the organization has planted more than 240 million trees, covering more than 250,000 acres. While the JNF claims that the mass forestation serves to drain swamps, fertilize the desert, and provide jobs to Jewish immigrants, the new trees also cover up the Palestinian ruins and the memories of expulsion associated with them.sawamir-haifa-070301-003

Most trees in these national forests are pine, a type of tree which was not seen in the Middle East before the 20th century. Jewish settlers chose the pine tree for two reasons. First, as a European species, the pine tree helped to familiarize the land, making it seem more European. Second, pine trees grow quickly, making it easier to cover up ruins of Palestinian villages over a shorter amount of time.


Recently, wildfires have spread throughout many national forests, stimulated by dry weather conditions and strong winds. Additionally, Israel claims that these fires were started intentionally by Palestinian terrorists, and Israeli authorities have made several arrests. Click here to see media coverage of the forest fires from November 24, 2016.

Author: Matthew Jacoby


“Ethnic Cleansing by All Means: The Real Israeli ‘peace’ Policy.” Mondoweiss. N.p., 18 Oct. 2014. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.

Hochberg, Gil Z. Visual Occupations: Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone. Durham: Duke U, 2015. Print.

“Jewish National Fund.” Jewish National Fund: . N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.

“Palestinian Villages, Israeli Parks: How the Past Echoes in the Present.” Palestine Square | ميدان فلسـطيـن. N.p., 27 Jan. 2017. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.

Times, The New York. “Wildfires Spread Across Northern Israel.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Nov. 2016. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.


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