Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Israeli politics and the environment


We who came to live in the Land of Israel really should take better care of our land. The observant amongst us are constantly praying about the Land of Israel, the secular have written poetry about its beauty and most Israelis love nothing better than a 'Tiyul' (a walk in nature or hike). There are numerous Israeli environmental groups, Israel Union for Environmental Defence, The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and many others. So why is it that we don't seem to have factor enironmental issues in to our voting choice?
Micael Cohen asks why none of the main political parties is addressing the green issue in an article 'The environment and Israel's politics'
Below are some excerpts...
Many Israelis are focused on the March 28 elections, but one wonders how aware they are that in the campaign itself environmental issues have largely been ignored.
"None of the candidates at the head of the major parties has made a reasoned and professional announcement on environmental matters," says Alona Sheafer-Karo, director of the environmental umbrella organization Life & Environment.
Such a state of affairs is appalling. For too long the Jewish value of caring for the environment has, when it comes to the Land of Israel, been put on the back burner as we wait for the conflict between Israel and her neighbors to finish. This is the reason for the formation of the Green Zionist Alliance. We can nolonger afford to allow environmental concerns to be lost in the shuffle of the other important issues.
Paraphrasing the Zionist philosopher Ahad Ha'am, one might say, "More than the Jews have kept the Land of Israel, the Land of Israel has kept the Jews."
One of our most important decisions, made at the moment we were expelled from the land, was to keep our connection to the land strong. The Romans knew this when, hoping to sever that connection, they changed the name of the land from Israel to Palestine.
We made the connection strong by making it tangible, real and full of meaning. It is not surprising that when the Dalai Lama asked to be taught the secret of our maintaining our identity over thousands of years of exile - anticipating that the Tibetan exile will be long as well - the rabbis and teachers he met told him: Maintain a real connection with your land.

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