Tag Archives: Israel Green Movement

Election season underway

Tonight, 18 October, the Green Movement held its first activist meeting in Tel Aviv.  Check in at this site, join the Green Movement facebook site, or check in at the main party site to see how you can help.  More soon.

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Meet Racheli Tidhar-Caner, co-chair of the Israel Green Movement

 

Racheli Tidhar-Caner was recently voted co-chair of the Israel Green Movement, alongside co-chair Alon Tal.

Co-Chairperson Racheli Tidhar-Caner

For those in the environmental movement, Racheli is a familiar face. Not only is she a founding member of the Israel Green Movement, she has participated (and led) many of Israel’s most prominent environmental campaigns. Chief among them are the campaigns to improve public transportation, protect Red Sea coral reefs from fish farms, preserve the Jerusalem Forests, improve air quality in Haifa Bay, protect the Nitzanim coast from development, and prevent construction of new coal-fired energy plants. Further, she has been active in promoting legislation in Knesset for recycling, clean air and coastline protection. Racheli volunteered, worked and was a member of the governing council of the student environmental organization, Green Course.

Racheli is trained as strategic advisor for social and environmental change, working with a broad variety of social and environmental organizations. She serves as chairwoman of Re’em Association, a volunteer organization advocating for anthroposophic (Waldorf) education in Rehovot, and is a project manager for the Shatil environmental justice program. She has consulted for women’s rights, educational, and accessibility organizations, and assists communities to increase public participation in local government. Her latest writing on strengthening the role of women in politics (in Hebrew) is available here.

Racheli holds a dual bachelor’s degree in geography and Hebrew literature from Ben Gurion University of the Negev and a Master’s degree in organizational behavior from the New York Polytechnic University (Israel branch). She is a graduate of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and was a member of the Moshav Movement’s Garin Oded. She is married to Niv, and mother to Ayelet, Neta and Omri.

Green Movement – the Next Generation

If you weren’t among the 180 party members voting on the new leadership list last week… Or if you haven’t been following the drama around the appointment of Israel’s new Chief of Staff… Or if you are unaware that there is – for the first time – a party in Israel that guarantees equal representation of men and women… Then you are not following the most optimistic signs of life in an otherwise dismal political scene in Israel.

Green Movement Members Vote

First and foremost, party members meeting last week approved a policy that the Israel Green Movement will be led by one female and one male leader.  The model, introduced by the German Green Party and approved overwhelmingly by the party membership, aims to facilitate the advancement of women into the political system.  The Green Movement doesn’t just talk about equal representation, we act.

The new leadership will be led by long-time Green Movement activist and leader Racheli Tidhar-Caner, alongside Professor Alon Tal.  The leadership team is rounded out with party founder Eran Ben Yemini, Professor and Tel Aviv city councilman Noah Efron, executive director of the Israel Energy Forum Yael Cohen-ParanAvi Dabush (Coordinator of Shatil’s Environmental Justice program), Sagit Porat (Paths To Sustainability Coalition Coordinator), Ahmed Amrani (Director General of the Office of the Mayor of Rahat), and Dr. Sarit Oked (community and environmental activist in Arad).

The movement meeting followed closely behind the decision of the Israeli government to retract the appointment of Major General Yoav Galant to the post of Chief of Staff.  Their decision was a direct result of the Green Movement petition to the Supreme Court questioning the ethical behavior of Galant and the faulty process by which he was vetted for the position.

Chairperson Alon Tal

Chairperson Racheli Tidhar-Kaner

Human Resources of the World, Unite!

Eran holds the credit card and identity card during the demonstration against land reform

Eran holds the credit card and identity card during the demonstration against land reform

I have to give Eran Ben Yemini credit for setting off this train of thought when, at the recent demonstration against land reform, he observed that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government want to change us from citizens into consumers,  to determine our identities by our credit cards rather than our ID cards. I don’t think this a new phenomenon but rather part of trend that has been developing over the last 50 years. This is what makes the mad dash towards privatization so dangerous, that it is not new. The worship of market forces as the answer for all that ails us is a religion practiced by so many for so long that few even bother to question its’ basic tenets. You see, Mr. Netanyahu is not perpetuating a conspiracy nor is he a radical when he promotes his pro-business agenda. He is well within the mainstream. Slowly but surely we are being turned from individuals into human resources; human resources that spend the majority of their waking hours either working or consuming.

So where is all of this leading? Unfortunately I don’t think the following scenario is too far off. You get in your car in the morning and spend an hour in traffic jams going to work in Tel Aviv. You don’t live there but in Savyonei Kiryat Ono because that is the closest to Tel Aviv that someone with a normal salary can get an apartment. You spend your day making a newer version of something that already exists and works perfectly well. You have lunch in a chain restaurant that serves same standard mediocrity no matter where in Israel it is, standardized so that so that any employee can learn to prepare it in the minimum time with the minimum amount of training. You go back to the office to outsource some more of the work your company does to the other side of the world in order to save a couple of shekels, just in time to get back in the traffic jam home. On the way you stop where that nice orange grove once stood and they now raised another shopping mall, so similar to all the rest of them that you can’t tell whether you are in Eilat or Metula. You get home just in time to have missed putting your kids to bed, nuke some food, watch a rerun of a so-so reality show on public TV, order a new, improved GPS so that you don’t get lost in the traffic jams to work and go to sleep.

It makes me think of the Matrix when Neo wakes up to reality and realizes that he is being used as a battery. Privatization is turning us into human batteries, human resources. We are not teachers, doctors, programmers, cooks or police officers. We are being turned into education employees, health employees, software employees, food employees and security employees.

What am I doing to stop this from happening? First, I’ve changed my voting patterns. No more Meretz, no more Labour; they have too long a track record of doing nothing. Second. I’ve joined the Green Movement, my moral choice, no more strategic voting for me. Thirdly, I’ve realized that changing Israel for the better depends on me. Not through grand gestures but rather daily acts of optimism; by writing here, by talking to people at lunch, by changing the way I consume and eat and commute and raise my daughter. It is you and I and thousands of other human resources that will ensure that our lives are not determined by the invisible hand of market forces and mainstream blandness. Human resources of the world, unite!

Bram Spiero

Bibi and his privatization obsession: A continuing story

Having sold off many government companies in his last term as prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu now turns to Israel’s public land as the next potential victim of his privatization obsession.  He tried to sneak it through in a seemingly irrelevant budget-related legislation (חוק הסדרים) and when pressed on the matter, he claimed its all about making it Sharon_Pt_7 015_compressedeasier to enclose balconies in apartments.  Right.  Well, a fascinating broad-based coalition quickly organized in opposition, ranging from the Zionist Right through the Zionist center/left and to the Socialist left and its managed to squeeze a few concessions out of the prime minister, and may yet be able to stop the deal.  Green Movement leaders have been central in organizing opposition to the privatization effort.  Green Movement deputy chair explains more fully why we should oppose this effort in his op-ed in Ha’aretz today.  He writes:

The real loss, however, involves the extent of the sell-off. The bill states that 800,000 dunams, or 4 percent of Israel’s lands, are to be put on the block. Supporters glibly claim that 4 percent is trivial. It’s anything but. When the deserts of the south are taken out of the equation, along with the nature reserves, forests and of course the military training grounds, this means an extraordinary percentage of the lands in central Israel will be up for sale.

The difference between private and public land ownership can easily be demonstrated by comparing the results of two major past development controversies. In Haifa, developers linked up with private landowners to push through approval of the seven seaside Carmel Towers. Because of litigation, only two of these monstrosities now block the view and the breeze of the adjacent neighborhoods, so that a few wealthy landowners can enjoy their private beach-front perches. But it is just a question of time before a political constellation revives the original plan and a new wall of concrete neutralizes more than a kilometer of beach.

The results were different in Nes Tziona, where a vast apartment complex was proposed for the Iris Hills, one of the last calcareous sandstone (kurkar) hillsides in Israel’s center, and home to a remarkable diversity of disappearing flora. Last year the Supreme Court rejected an attempt by private landowners to break a stalemate with the Jewish National Fund, which owned much of the land, and force through their building program. 

For the full article, click here.  For the Hebrew website of the coalition organizing against the privatization, click here.

And…. We’re back! With a guest summer blogger!

The IGM's summer blogger: Annabelle Eliashiv

The IGM's summer blogger: Annabelle Eliashiv

The Unofficial English-language blog of the Israel Green Movement is proud to be powering up the blog – just in time for its 3 July primaries.  Our guest blogger is Annabelle Eliashiv – undergraduate in political science at the University of Michigan and summer intern with the Israel Green Movement and the Israel Energy Forum.

She has already written three blog entries – condensed into one here below – reflecting her arrival in Israel and initial appraisal of the Israeli environmental scene.  We welcome Annabelle and thank her in advance for breathing life back into the IGM English language blog.  And now over to her:

Landing in Israel: Off the plane and into the local climate change debates

At the very start of summer, I landed in Israel. I anticipated Tel Aviv’s notorious weather to hit me immediately. But as the week passed, and I became more involved and aware of Israel’s environmental issues at hand, something stronger than the high eighties and 75-percent humidity grabbed my attention.

My first day, I attended a meeting that threw me right into the environmental debates and controversies in Israel. Throughout that week, I listened to and researched the status of environmental topics I had heard about in that meeting. Later in the week I had an opportunity to hear a report hosted by the Danish embassy “Rising Temperatures, Rising Climates.” It was particularly interesting to see and hear three organized presentations on Israel’s role in global warming and the water crisis. However, what I dare say was more interesting than the way global warming is anticipated to affect the Middle Eastern conflict, was listening to the comments after the report.

Danish embassy sponsors "rising temperatures, rising climate" conference in Israel

Danish embassy sponsors "rising temperatures, rising climate" conference in Israel

I sat in a room of fifty people, listening as professors and specialists raised questions, shared their opinions, and bluntly critiqued the report they had just heard. Through the long assertions of what will “actually” happen to Israel and statements of what “the real issue is,” I came to an enlightening, and refreshing, realization. There are people interested in the environment. There are people educated in environmental concerns. Of course, if you’re reading this, you have an interest degree of enthusiasm in the environment, but throughout this week in Israel, it has been hard to find the same interest in the general population.

Israel has, per capita, one of the most well-educated populations in the world, but the environmental sector of this education, it seems, is relatively new. Just because the election came and went does not mean that The Israel Green Movement- Meimad can stop working for support and popularity. The way I see it, it only means that now is the time to work harder. Start gaining support now. By reading this blog you’re agreeing to at least one thing: that you care. You care about the way this country turns out and its environment, so instead of being “just a reader”, become an advocate. Get involved. Educate the people who don’t know. Take part in making it so that next year not only does the Israel Green Movement- Meimad have a seat in the Knesset…make it a popular, well-respected and known seat. Who knows, maybe by then we’ll have enough votes to win 120 seats in the Knesset.

Learning from Savta – Energy use in a Haifa apartment

I spent the weekend with my grandmother. You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with the environment?” Well, over two days, I observed the way my grandmother lives in her apartment in Haifa and realized that she, a woman who never learned about greenhouse gases or global warming in high school, is doing more to conserve and protect the environment than, I think it would be safe to bet, a majority of the younger generations in Israel.

I walked into the greatly lit apartment and realized that not a single artificial light was on. Instead, the curtains were drawn back to reveal the beautiful valley below and allow the sun to light the room with her rays.  I know it might sounds pretty romanticized and dramatic, but I promise you, not a single light was on. We didn’t have to turn on a light until the sun had set, and even then, she only flipped the switch in the room we were sitting in.

Haifa - taking advantage of the sunlight and ocean breeze

Haifa - taking advantage of the sunlight and ocean breeze

My grandmother, of course, offered me food and drink. She put a kettle on the stove and warmed us some water for coffee and tea. After we had finished our drinks, and ate some cake, she poured the remaining cooled water into a watering pot that she slowly filled and used to water the plants in her apartment.

She then washed the dishes by hand and let them dry. We closed the curtains and blinds, and went to sleep. The next morning (before noon –the start of peak hours), she put in a full load of laundry. After the cycle was finished, she hung the laundry on a line outside her window, letting the wind and sun dry them.

We spent the rest of the weekend conserving energy (both mine and the environment’s). So maybe we can use this as yet another lesson learned from our grandparents…who really do know best.

What will Israel’s role in the Copenhagen Climate Conference be?

On June 9th, an Environmental Day was hosted in the Knesset. Here, many different organizations met to discuss their progress and efforts in environmental protection. Throughout the day, presentations were made as plans for the future were drawn out and graphs of previous mistakes and accomplishments were cast onto a screen through Powerpoint presentations. After hours spent recounting the past year’s work and trying to get a grasp on what Israel has to offer the world, the topic of the international conference on climate issues arose. What will Israel be presenting at the Copenhagen Climate Conference this coming December? When the Kyoto Protocol was put together in 1997 and the framework for internationally decreasing greenhouse gas emissions was organized, Israel was still considered a developing country. However, after years of vast technological advancements and continuous CO2 emissions, Israel proudly holds the title of a developed, and polluting, country with the rest of the Western world. Before giving yourself a pat on the back, consider the ramifications that come with this title. Israel is now, as it has been, a leader. And should also be a leader in the environmental world. Come December, Israel should be ready to present the world a plan for environmental advancements, protections, alternatives – not attend to listen for recommendations. Israel should be able to stand amongst her peers with something to offer the world.

MK Gilad Erdan, Minister of Environmental Protection

MK Gilad Erdan, Minister of Environmental Protection

The democracy that Israel offers her citizenry is one that guarantees each person a voice. The day at the Knesset showed just a portion of the many voices there really are. After hours of presentations, the Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan ended the discussion with a request for all the environmental committees, organizations, NGOs and groups to come together. To use one voice. One strong voice to solidify the need for Israel to pursue environmental advancements. But the question is, how do you combine the organizations concerned with protecting Israel’s nature and those focused on alternative energy developments? How can you summarize the appeals for the preservation of nature, just animal treatment, decreased water pollution, increased recycling, lessening the landfills of trash, better air quality in Israel and make a plan that’s ready to execute and change the environment? The Copenhagen Conference on climate change and CO2 emissions is a reminder that Israel is a part of the international community and fight against global warming. Similarly, the day at the Knesset was an opportunity for Israel to consider what the many parts have given and must give to our country that is, too, a community of her own.

Gershon Baskin’s efforts to secure Gilad Shalit’s release.

Bring Gilad Home

Bring Gilad Home

Today, while canvassing for the Green Movement-Meimad in Haifa, during the slow moments I would talk with the two high school students hired by Likud to promote their party.  The kids asked me to explain Likud’s platform, which I did.  Then they asked, what about Gilad Shalit.  I answered that on Gilad Shalit there is a consensus across the political spectrum – we all want him home as soon as possible.  Maybe there are disagreements regarding how much to “give up,” but everyone desparately wants him home.  I mentioned that one of our party members – Gershon Baskin – was involved in these efforts, but I didn’t know the details.  Today Gershon’s efforts are featured in a Haaretz article by Akiva Eldar.  We are proud to have Gershon with us and pray that his efforts and those of others pay off soon with the safe return of Gilad Shalit to his parents, family and country.