The other day Harry’s Place noticed that a group calling itself Friends of the Earth Middle East (Eco Peace) England had signed something calling itself the Final Declaration of the Beirut Resistance Forum, which among things called for “Restoring UN Resolution 3379 which classifies Zionism as racism, and ousting Israel from the UN”.
Since we link to Friends of the Earth Middle East, this was a bit of a problem. We don’t accept that Zionism in general is racism, or that referring to Zionism as racism will bring an end to any kind racism. We feel that, like any nationalism, there are many facets to Zionism. Some aspects of Zionism are racist, some are based on an untenable religious claim; but all are preoccupied with self-determination in what is perceived, quite fairly, as a region hostile to Jews. We support FoEME’s primary objective: “the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect our shared environmental heritage”. We feel that it would be counter-productive to designate the majority of one state racist simply because they want to live securely in that state. So I sent an email requesting clarification. The reply:
“Dear Ms. Vogel,
Thank you for your email and for wanting to clear up this matter with us
directly. We highly appreciate that.
Our organization is “EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East” and our
website is www.foeme.org. We are indeed a regional organization of Israeli,
Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists working towards protection of
our shared environmental heritage. And we are indeed promoting a Jordan
River Peace park.
We are NOT however, “Friends of the Earth Middle East (Eco Peace) England”.
We do not know who they are, and they are using our name, illegally, I might
add. Notice that there is no web link to that organization in the “Harry’s
Place” site. No wonder…
And of course we do NOT support the ‘Final Declaration of the Beirut
Resistance Forum’, or any such document related to its message.
We are happy to be linked to your Greens Engage blogroll, and do hope that
you keep us on. We certainly have similar views.
I hope I have cleared up this unfortunate misuse of our name, and again, I
thank you for writing to us directly.
Friends of the Earth Middle East”
Then Mira Edelstein wasted quite a lot of her time trying without success to track down the impostor. We’d hope that the person who posted the Beirut declaration on Socialist Unity would help with this, but we doubt it. Signatory 35 remains in place. You have to wonder how many other of those signatories are made up.
ADDITION 1st Feb – something we missed from a fortnight ago.
Amman / Bethlehem / Tel Aviv
15 January 2009
EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) is deeply alarmed by
the humanitarian crisis and the widespread destruction of civil
infrastructure. The ongoing Israeli – Palestinian conflict has had
dangerous repercussions for the Gaza Strip’s already dilapidated water
supply network and sewage systems. UN reports indicate that more than
500,000 Palestinians in Gaza remain without safe drinking water and
sewerage collection systems and treatment facilities have ceased
functioning resulting in sewage in the streets. Furthermore, these
sewerage systems are in danger of overflowing leading to raw sewage
floods into the surrounding communities and the Mediterranean Sea.
Sewage contamination will lead to long-term consequences for both
Palestinians and Israelis including the outbreak of infectious diseases
and the loss of important groundwater sources through pollution.
Friends of the Earth Middle East appeals to the United Nations
Environmental Programme to send a team from its Post-Conflict Assessment
Unit to Gaza and Israel in order to undertake an independent assessment
of the environmental impacts of the recent escalation of fighting. The
appeal comes in advance of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival in
Israel on January 15.
Nader Al Khateeb, Palestinian Director of Friends of the Earth Middle
East said, “Allegations are currently widespread that the Israeli Army
is utilizing white phosphorous and other chemical weapons in densely
populated urban centres of the Gaza Strip. We join other peacemaking
organizations in calling for an immediate cessation of the ongoing war
that would also enable experts to investigate these allegations in order
to properly assess the public health and environmental impacts of the
Friends of the Earth Middle East calls on the UN Secretary-General to
announce that the Post-Conflict Branch of the United Nations
Environmental Programme will send a team to Gaza and Israel so that the
environmental damage caused by the conflict can be independently
assessed and recommendations made for reconstruction efforts.
Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East,
said that documenting the consequences of war on the shared environment
of Israel and Palestine highlights the loss to both nations and must be
followed up by actions that will help avoid another round of violence
and destruction. “As soon as the ceasefire comes into effect,
reconstruction efforts, beyond urgent humanitarian assistance, should
focus on working with communities on both sides of the border. The
reconstruction effort should involve grassroots peace-building efforts
so that the ceasefire has a better chance of survival and that
infrastructure rebuilt will not again be destroyed by the next round of
For more information on cross-border community based peacemaking efforts
visit FoEME’s Good Water Neighbor’s project at http://www.foeme.org and
Nader Al Khateeb, Palestinian Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East
T: 972 522875022, email@example.com (spoken languages: English and Arabic)
Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East
T: 972 52 4532597, firstname.lastname@example.org (spoken languages: English and Hebrew)
Mira Edelstein, Foreign Media Officer, Friends of the Earth Middle East
T: 972 54 6392937, email@example.com (spoken languages: English and Hebrew)