Tag Archives: Knesset

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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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.

Yes, we can! The Green Movement-Meimad will pass the minimum threshold with your vote (ה), and those of some celebrity friends (see below)

Who is voting for the Green Movement – Meimad (תנועה הירוקה-מימד)?

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

According to a poll by “Ma’agar Mokhot”: 7% of Israelis will vote for the Green Movement-Meimad if they are confident the party will pass the minimum threshold.  This represents 8-9 seats in Knesset!  So don’t hesitate.  This will put Rabbi Michael Melchior, Eran Ben Yemini, Professor Alon Tal, Yonina Fallenberg, Iris Hahn, Dr. Hussein Tarabieh, Dr. Ariel Pikar and Yael Cohen-Paran (and maybe Leah Halperin)  into the next Knesset.

In mock elections at high schools across Israel, students found hope and vision in the Green Movement-Meimad:  7.1% from Ort High School in Holon; 5% from West Jezreel Valley High School; 21% (!) from Tschernokovski High School in Netanya; 4.4% from Mevo’ot Iron High School; 6% in Ostrovski High School in Raanana.

In mock elections at universities across Israel, students found a platform they can believe in with the Green Movement-Meimad: 12% and 16% (in two surveys) at Hebrew University; 4.2% at Ben Gurion University (5 mandates); 3.4% at Tel Aviv University; 2 mandates at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzlia.

An increasing number of public figures (aside from our extensive list of academic endorsements [in Hebrew] here) are expressing their support for the Green Movement-Meimad, including:

Kobi Oz (singer, author, composer), who writes his endorsement here (in Hebrew). My loose translation:  “I’m voting for the Green Movement-Meimad so there will be someone to protect this land and fight those who are destroying it.  Ya’ala – I’ll give them my vote and then they’ll pass the minimum threshold and go right to the center of activity – exactly where they belong”

Ehud Banai (singer and composer) – “I vote for the kind of values the Green Movement-Meimad represents.  It’s crucial that they are in the next Knesset.”

Riki Blich (actress and comedian) – “I know these people and I know they will represent public interests loyally and steadfastly in Knesset”

Natan Zach (Poet, Israel Prize Laureate) – according to this Friday’s Yediot Ahronot, disillusioned with all the political parties, but choosing between Green Movement-Meimad and an uninspiring Meretz.

Shai Avivi (Actor, Comedian, original member of HaChamisha HaKamrit) – “I know the people in the party – they are professionals, fighters (in the political sense), and serious.

Rino Tzror (Journalist) – “Only the Green Movement-Meimad is worthy of attention.”

Avri Gilad (Radio and TV host) – announced today on his popular radio program that he is voting Green Movement-Meimad.

Jackie Levy (Radio and TV host, and journalist) – “Vote for the Green Movement-Meimad as the only party that represents the connection between Judaism, society and ecology.  This is not a trend, but the result of a crucial process within Israel society.”

Tzur Shizaf (Journalist, author and nature guide) – “If someone needs to keep [Avigdor] Leiberman in check, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there; If someone needs to stop the runaway privatization of everything in our country, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there; If someone has to battle in favor of education, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there.”

Shlomo Bar (Musician, composer) – “The Green Movement-Meimad gives me hope for a society without sectoralism, without people with no content, without politicians.  We have enough generals who have complicated our lives here.  We need statesmen like Rabbi Melchior and not more wily politicians.

Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit calls the Green Movement-Meimad “the party to watch” during the elections.  His colleague at Haaretz, journalist Shachar Ilan writes – “Whoever votes for for the Green Movement-Meimad will be getting the best Knesset member for their vote.  Rabbi Michael Melchior was one of the best parliamentarians in the outgoing Knesset.”

Jerusalem deputy mayor Naomi Tzur and Jerusalem city council member Rachel Azaria took out a quarter page ad in Friday’s newspaper encouraging Israelis to vote Green Movement-Meimad.

On line bloggers are enthusiastically endorsing the Green Movement-Meimad.  According to a poll of influencial Hebrew blogs, 37% endorsed the Green Movement-Meimad.  Similarly, an increasing number of English language blogs in Israel and among Jews abroad are endorsing the party:

Haim Watzman at Southjerusalem.com.

Yannai Kranzler at the Jewish Climate Initiative.

Anna at Daily Dose of Anna.

Rebecca at The Big Felafel.

Professor Gil Troy at Jerusalem Post Blogs.

David at Israel21C Blogs and Brian Blum at Israel21C Blogs.

Josh Weinberg at the Houmous Fool.

RickyB at The Church of Here and Now (Salon.com blogs)

Benji Lovitt at What War Zone?

And don’t forget the more than 30 party supporters who sent in their reasons for supporting the Green Movement-Meimad (see previous post below).  And see the reputable Green Prophet blog for their comprehensive review of all of the parties’ environmental platforms here.  And finally, for Hebrew readers, read an interview with Green Movement-Meimad candidate  Samuel Chayen in last Friday’s Makor Rishon here (downloads a PDF of the interview).

This Tuesday vote for education, environment, social democracy.  Vote ‘for’ rather than ‘against’.  Vote for what Israel could be!

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More eloquent Green-Meimad support from all corners of the blogosphere

More bloggers have posted their intention to vote for the Green Movement-Meimad in the elections next week.

The off-beat endorsement of the week comes from former Green-Leaf supporter, writer/editor RickyB.  In his post – a quick and ecclectic tour of today’s political scene – the author reveals his pick for the Knesset towards the end of his entry:

In the… green corner, we have the Green Movement-Meimad, which offers the top two environmental activists in the country in addition to the greenest MK in the last decade. Guess which one I’m voting for? The Meimad part comes from MK Rabbi Michael Malchior – an orthodox rabbi committed to separation of state and religion who is also head of the environmental lobby (what y’all call a caucus) in Knesset and is a bona fide green, socially progressive legislator. I dig that kind of synergy. I just hope enough of my brethren do as well.

Having attended the AACI/Jerusalem Post sponsored election panel in Jerusalem, Anna – a self-described Halachically-inclined feminist writes about her realization that the Green Movement-Meimad is for her:

What I learned about myself tonight is that I would much rather vote for a party that has lofty goals that understands a basic principle of morality and reality than crazy people who at best work only under an assumption of fear and hatred and at worst under the worst form of nationalism that claims to have Israel’s best interests at heart but in reality is well, totally blind to reality and morality…

… It was upsetting to me to hear politicians call for the subjugation of Arabs and the end to the idea of a two-state solution, in no equivocal terms…

… And so I’ll be voting for HaTnuah HaYeruka-Meimad on election day, the only party that seems to hold the same values as I do–education and electoral reform, the environment, and a reasoned and realistic approach towards a two-state solution. It is the only party I can vote for in good conscience.

Journalist, writer and guide Tsur Shizaf throws his support behind the party on his [Hebrew] blog here.  I won’t attempt to translate his prose and biblical references, but I’ll paraphrase – ‘If peace breaks out, the Green Movement/Meimad will be in favor; if someone needs to keep [Avigdor] Leiberman in check, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there; If someone needs to stop the runaway privatization of everything in our country, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there; If someone has to battle in favor of education, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there.

Indeed.

Moving on up – the Green Movement-Meimad passing the threshold to the next Knesset!

Every vote counts!

Every vote counts! (Montage by Green Movement member Maya Shalit and her cat.)

Increasingly promising signs that the Green Movement-Meimad will pass the threshold and then some in the elections.  Mock elections held at Tel Aviv and Hebrew University had the Green Movement-Meimad easily passing the threshold.  (The threshold is the minimum amount of votes needed to assure a seat in the next parliament.)  At Hebrew University, more than 1000 students voted and the Green Movement-Meimad took third place, gaining 16 mandates.  At Tel Aviv University, with more than 2500 students voting, we took 4 mandates.  But the best mock election results come in from Tchernokovski High School in Netanya, whose students – after hearing representatives of each of the parties speak – gave 21% of the vote to the Green Movement-Meimad.  This was, according to press coverage, the big surprise of the school election.  Green Movement-Meimad activists continue campaigning throughout the country to make sure this becomes the big surprise of the national election!

As the Knesset election campaign goes into the final stretch…

Three postings of interest as the campaign for Knesset #18 goes into its final two weeks:

1) The Jerusalem Post spotlights the Green Movement-Meimad with coverage of the campaign kickoff event two weeks ago:

“Change starts here,” No. 2 Eran Ben-Yemini declared, “But actually it began 10 to 15 years ago, when we established many of the biggest environmental organizations in Israel.”

Ben-Yemini founded Green Course, while fellow party member Prof. Alon Tal founded The Israel Union for Environmental Defense and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.

“When we started out, nobody even knew what ‘the environment’ was. Now we’ve turned it into one of the biggest items on the national agenda,” Ben-Yemini told the crowd.

Meimad head and No. 1 on the combined list Rabbi Michael Melchior stressed the need to prevent security from dominating all other issues.

“We cannot let the older parties use the security issue, no matter how important it is, to once again bury education, environment and social issues.

“When all of the other Knesset members race towards seats on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the least important committee in the Knesset, we will be running towards the education, social affairs, finance and environment committees,” he thundered.

For the full article, click here.

2) In the Hebrew press, YNET exposes the author of a rogue website, which was trying to masquerade as the homepage of the Israel Green Movement last summer.  The site attempted to portray the Green Movement in an extremist light.  And who was behind the site?  Meital Revino, who just happens to be running for Knesset on the Green Party list (#20).  Note that this blog did its best NOT to engage in badmouthing the Green Party, but I thank YNET and journalist Ehud Kenan for exposing this. For Hebrew readers, the article is here. On our “About” page in the comments section on the bottom, I try to define the differences between the Green Movement-Meimad and the Green Party.

3) Finally, the television campaign began today.  Below is the Green Movement-Meimad’s first commercial – clearly aimed at helping the voters distinguish between the environmental party (us) and the faux greens (them).  Enjoy!


2000 supporters insist on putting social, environmental and education issues on top of the public agenda!

Last night approximately 2000 supporters of the Israel Green Movement-Meimad (תנועה הירוקה-מימד) converged on the Convention Center in Ramat Aviv to kick off the party’s election campaign (had I been there, it would have been 2001).  Two Green Movement-Meimad colleagues were there and sent this in:

Green Movement-Meimad supporter Arieh O’Sullivan had this to say:

Shuki Galili)

2000 gather for the Green Election Event (photos: Shuki Galili)

The buzz could be felt in the hallways of the Tel Aviv Fair Grounds. When you walked into the auditorium, dubbed “Purple Prime, the atmosphere became electric as over 1,200 supporters [2000 according to press coverage] of the Israel Green Movement – Meimad gathered to kick off election campaign.

The eclectic make up of the supporters was highly evident, with shaggy-haired men toting drums comfortably sharing the hall with observant Jews and high-fiving secular folks. Also evident were Arab women wearing traditional headscarves making it probably the only party where Arabs and orthodox Jews feel equally at home.

Green Movement-Meimad Band

Green Movement-Meimad Band

The crowd circled the main stage where the Green Movement – Meimad leadership gathered to present themselves. Center stage was a band made up of the leadership of the movement.

Cheers went up when IGM founder Eran Ben Yemini grabbed the microphone and began a dramatic and engaging speech. The rambunctious crowd repeatedly punctured Ben Yemini’s speech with applause. This trend would repeat itself as the movement presented the activists running for Knesset seats.

Alon Tal, who played saxophone earlier, told the crowd of his beginnings in North Carolina and his commitment to the environment.

Party chairman Rabbi Michael Melchior

Party chairman Rabbi Michael Melchior

By the time MK Rabbi Michael Melchior took the stage, the audience had been warmed up. There was no need because Melchior’s powerful oratory skills soon had everyone virtually on their feet ready to hit the streets to canvass voters.

Marie Orian – who will be joining us on the IGM English blog – adds this:

It was really a ‘different’ kind of political rally. One that left the convention hall with a practically spotless floor and trash free countertops, despite the attendance of over 1,200 supporters – (and I’ve seen what that place usually looks like after an event).

There was a warm and personal atmosphere throughout, and the rally formally ended with a heartfelt chorus of HaTikva, to signify the real hope we all share. Enthusiastic chatting sessions took place both before and after the main event in the auditorium. People were so courteous, and truly interested in listening to each other.

At the end, as the diverse crowd poured out of the convention hall, they all uttered the same words – “metzuyan” and “fantastic”! We have a lot of work to do to attain our goals, but I’m really jazzed about the possibility of making it a reality, as I know everyone else who attended must be.

Green Movement-Meimad candidate Yarden Shani speaking to the press

Green Movement-Meimad candidate Yarden Shani speaking to the press

The event was covered well by the Hebrew media, who portrayed a story of hope and idealism and refusal to reduce Israel’s public policy to only military issues. “I know the political system very well,” Melchior told the audience, “and the day after the elections everyone runs for a place in the Security and Foreign Affairs Committee… We will run for a place in the Education Committee, the Social Welfare Committee and the Environment Committee. And there we will be your representatives!”

For more from the Hebrew Press, see Walla, YNet and NRG.

Green Movement Meimad - Ramat Aviv, 2009

Green Movement Meimad - Ramat Aviv, 2009