Category Archives: International relations

News bytes 24 days before Israel’s elections – the Green Movement-Meimad hit the blogosphere

Green Movement-Meimad Open Election Event

Green Movement-Meimad Open Election Event

While politicians are still debating whether or not Israel’s elections will be held on time, and the mood in Israel is still shadowed by the ongoing conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, the Green Movement-Meimad is continuing to reach out to the Israeli public.  The party’s election event will be this coming Sunday at the Convention Center in Ramat Aviv.  Everyone is invited to attend and meet the party’s candidates, activists and supporters and transportation is available from all over Israel.  Sunday, 18 January, 18:30, Ramat Aviv Convention Center (גני התערוכה), Purple Prime hall.

A new party without huge cash reserves or support from vested business interests, we’re depending on the good work and will of hundreds of activists and thousands of supporters.  One excellent source of support and inspiration (an Obama-esque source) is the blogosphere.  Three in the blogosphere who have weighed in with a positive take on the Green Movement-Meimad party are author/journalist/blogger (South Jerusalem)  Haim Watzman, Jewish Climate Initiative blogger Yannai Kranzler, and teacher/writer/blogger/activist Elana Sztokman.

In her blog, “For serious Jewish women,” Sztokman interviews Professor Alon Tal and writes:

Building bridges

IGM-Meimad: Uniting rather than polarizing

The overlap between environment, education, and social justice creates a powerful and inspired platform – all in the name of Judaism. “We’re talking about ‘nutritional security’,” says Tal. “We want to bring compassion back, a certain type of internal harmony, a community that has a strong sense of social justice.” And this requires political activism.

The new party, the only party running whose list is exactly 50-50 men and women, reflects the pluralism and wholesomeness of its message. “What I like about this merge is how it blends secular, young Jews and mostly religious or traditional Jews,” Tal emotes. “We were so excited about a partnership with this party, even though they had a rabbi with a black suit on as their head and the people in our party were much more secular – because we thought that was something as a statement of sorts. It was good for the country. All the polarization that exists in Israeli society is fabricated by larger parties and manipulated by them. While in fact, on the key day-to-day issues, we don’t have any problems, and we have the same visions.”

The rest of Sztokman’s wonderful interview is here.  Watzman’s piece (which prophesied the merger of the Green Movement and Meimad) is on Jewcy, here, and Kranzler’s supportive piece is here.  We appreciate all three bloggers and their efforts to bring about a social-environmental revolution in Israel.

1 in 6 residents in my apartment block explicitly support the Green Movement-Meimad!

A good start: 1 in 6 residents in my apartment block explicitly support the Green Movement-Meimad!

Palestinian, Israeli, Jordanian and American environmental studies students speak: Where do we go from here?

The usual disclaimer – these views do not necessarily reflect those of the Green Movement-Meimad.  For the official party platform on Israeli-Palestinian relations, click here.

The vision of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence has taken a beating in the last few years, reaching bottom in the last couple weeks.  Nonetheless, there are those who continue to see a common, cooperative future and are willing to work towards it, even in the midst of the current strife.

The following is written by my students of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in their course, “Introduction to Environmental Policy.”  The recent violence in Gaza and southern Israel has weighed heavily on the students here – possibly the only place in Israel where Palestinian and Israeli students continue to look each other in the eye day-to-day and ponder their common present and future.  Needless to say, their studies, as in the rest of Israel and Palestine, have been disrupted directly and indirectly by tragic current events.  But here, uniquely, we are trying to use the event to strengthen our collective vision, rather than further divide.

Within the context of our pre-scheduled lecture on regional environmental policy (with guest lecturer, Green Movement-Meimad candidate Dr. Shmuel Brenner), I asked the students three questions regarding their vision of the future for the region, and how we we get from where we are now to where we want to be.

Is it crucial for Israelis and Palestinians work to cooperate on environmental issues and if so, why?

o Environmental resources and the damage we do to them do not stop at a political border; we share the same air and water; environmental damage on one side of the border harms the other as well.

o Environmental damage creates economic damage.

o Not dealing with our current environmental problems condemns future generations to deal with them.

o Good neighbors should support each other’s development. By cooperating, we foster a future leadership based on shared connections.  By cooperating, we can become a model of coexistence for the world.

o While we have few natural resources, our human resources are among the best in the world.  Our combined knowledge – applied cooperatively – can create a model of environmental progress.

o We all love land – otherwise we wouldn’t be fighting over it.  And when peace comes, people will want a high quality of life and a clean environment.

Where do we want to go?

o We view the entire region as a single entity in terms of natural resources and waste.  The whole region should be pictured as a small village with coordinated environmental management and policies.  Such policies should strengthen both sides’ governments through cooperation (positive reinforcement).

o The more technologically and economically advanced neighbor should assist the other towards proper environmental management and technologies.

o Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) need to be placed in the spotlight and funded more, so that people know that these groups are doing things that governments have failed to do (like cooperation and trust-building activities).  We should create more places like this [The Arava Institute].

o The entire population should be involved in environmental projects.

o Resources should be divided between nations based on need and according to proportional representation in the population.

How do we get from here to there?

o Stop all of the violence immediately.

o Initial steps:  Educating people, raising awareness of how pollution is a shared problem. A political and legal recognition of the environmental problems of the other side, and how each nation’s problems affect the other nation. Neutral international organizations (e.g. the World Bank) should be responsible for mediating fines and other deterrents to prevent cross-border pollution. Pollution control should be prioritized as an important focus for cooperation between Israel and Palestine.

o Intermediate steps: Supply each other with the technological means to deal with environmental problems.  Share information. Open the border – figuratively and literally. Create jobs on both sides through training programs for dealing with environmental problems.  Start negotiations. Promote small scale shared projects. Start programs to use skilled gained through training programs. Begin planning for large scale projects and policies. Israel and Palestine should work within the same environmental policy framework and follow the same environmental standards.

o Long term steps: Apply long term plan and large scale projects. Continued education to keep people involved.  Improve and develop the projects that have been started and maintain their progress.  Expand regional cooperation to the entire region (Middle East and Europe and Africa).

Even though the students may disagree regarding the causes of the current violence, their answers show commitment to a shared future marked by equity and cooperation.  It may be perceived as naïve in today’s political climate, but it is also a sign of optimistic light in an otherwise dark reality.

The Israel Green Movement and Gaza

Friendly reminder: This is an unofficial blog of the IGM – so the views and interpretations are my own.

The Israel Green Movement is currently working on a position paper with regard to the recent violence in Gaza and southern Israel.  It is well worth reminding in the meantime that the Green Movement, which mourns the loss of all human life,  supports the right of Israel and its government to protect the lives of its citizens.  At the same time, we believe that the way forward to peace between Israel and Palestine is based on mutual recognition and two states – Israel and Palestine – for two people.  Our platform on regional issues emphasizes cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians on all environmental issues – including water management, air quality and open spaces/biodiversity.  Our working assumption is that the area of Israel and Palestine constitutes a single ecological unit in which natural resources must be managed cooperatively.  We hope to see a speedy end to hostilities and an initiation of constructive dialogue based on the principle of two states/two people.

Until the release a position statement on Gaza, readers are suggested to read IGM member Gershon Baskin’s op ed in the Jerusalem Post yesterday (which is his opinion and not that of the IGM), where he explains the predicament for Israel and Palestine of a Hamas-led government in Gaza.  It is found here.

Israel Green Movement News Bytes

1.  The Israel Green Movement now has a LinkedIn Group and it can be found at this link.

LinkedIn is an on line network of more than 30 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries. LinkedIn groups provide a good way to expand the network of people that have access to you, with the added advantage of a shared interest or characteristic.

As we develop a global base of support for the Israel Green Movement, our LinkedIn group will be one place for supporters from around the globe to interact. Join now!  (Submitted by Dr. Bob Goldwasser, Director of Anglo Outreach with the IGM):

2. The Unofficial Blog (which is pretty much official…) welcomes two new writers – Liat Racin and Simon Marriott:

Liat Racin - Blogging from the Arava

Liat Racin - Blogging from the Arava

Liat Racin is currently a Program Assistant at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. She earned her M.A. from the War Studies Department at King’s College, London, and her B.A. in International Relations  from the American University in Washington D.C. Before pursuing her M.A. she  worked at the United States-Israel Science and Technology Foundation, and interned for various socio-ecological organizations including Friends of the Earth Middle East, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Environmental Change and Security Program, and the Greater Washington D.C. Hadassah Chapter.

She is committed to projects that advance environmental conservation via public health initiatives, and will be writing on Israel Green Movement events and personalities in the Arava.

Simon Marriott, who will be writing on IGM issues in Haifa, as well as general environmental issues in Israel, will be profiled soon.

3.  New YouTube Video File of the Israel Green Movement

See us in action at our primaries (in Hebrew except the 30 second part with me).  For many other YouTube videos, include press interviews, news clips, demonstrations, meetings of the IGM, click here.

4. SAVE THE DATE: 7 January, 2008

On 7 January will be the grand kickoff for the Green Movement-Meimad election campaign at the Exposition Center (גני התערוכה) in Tel Aviv.  The event will be at 18:30 and is open to all Green Movement-Meimad members, friends, families and the as-0f-yet unconvinced.  Join the social-environmental revolution in Israel!
IGM-Meimad Campaign Kickoff Event - 7 January

IGM-Meimad Campaign Kickoff Event - 7 January

Israel Green Movement – building bridges across the world

While most Israel Green Movement efforts are currently focused on establishing a political presence locally (reminder – primaries this Friday!), it is not too early to start cultivating our relations with our Green counterparts abroad.  The Green Movement plans to be part a broader, global progressive movement – starting with Green Parties of Europe and the Americas.  The task won’t necessarily be easy, as many individuals in these parties take a very hard line against Israel (and not only against specific Israeli policies).  Yet, other Green Party members are also taking pro-active measures to help their colleagues better understand political and security challenges in Israel.

Two examples come to mind.  In England, Green Party members active in challenging their party’s anti-Israel bias operate the website “Greens Engage.”  The Green Party members who operate the site, describe Greens Engage in these words: “We began life as a single-issue site which we anticipated would last as long as the boycott lasted. Since then Greens have unveiled startling draft policy which proposes the imposition of 1947 UN borders, unilateral withdrawal from occupied Palestinian lands, and the right of return for all UN-designated Palestinian refugees while repealing the Jewish right of return.  In response we broadened our horizons and changed our name from Greens Stop The Boycott to Greens Engage”.  The blog includes reports on the English/Welsh Green Party’s policies regarding Israel, anti-Semitism on the left in England, but also reports on germane efforts to catalyze peaceful and productive relationships between Palestinians and Israelis.  The blog is here.

Meanwhile, in Berkeley, California, Wendy Kenin of the Green Party of California organized a special mission to Israel in order for Green and other progressive Californians to meet with their Israeli counterparts.  According to Kenin’s report of the trip, “among sites the Mission toured was the Yemin Orde Wingate Youth Village, south of Haifa in the Carmel Mountains, home to more than 500 immigrant, disadvantaged, and at-risk children and youth from 20 countries around the world. They also went to the Jerusalem Open House, a grassroots LGBT center; and Neve Shalom—Wahat al-Salame (Oasis of Peace), a village situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Jaffa jointly-established by Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel engaged in educational work for peace, equality and understanding between the two peoples.”  The entire report can be read here.

In the coming months, the Israel Green Movement plans to work with these colleagues and others abroad – to become familiar with the various Green Parties, their positions regarding Israel and the Middle East, and to facilitate meetings aimed at strengthening potential collaborations internationally.  The Israel Green Movement salutes efforts like those of Ms. Kenin in California and Greens Engage in England, and we look forward to working with them – at once strengthening a global progressive community and helping to define Israel’s role in that community.