Monthly Archives: April 2009

What next for the Israel Green Movement – Meimad?

“Ofer Kot, #10 on the Green Movement – Meimad’s list of candidates for Israel’s Knesset, spent election day in February handing out the movement’s fliers to people at voting stations – as they were on their way out.

When asked why he was giving election fliers to people who had already voted, he replied: “To get people ready for the next elections.”

An interview on Green Prophet – carried out shortly after the elections and posted just recently – with Daniel Orenstein of Israel’s Green Movement

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Friends of the Earth Middle East receives award for water and peace activities

Congratulations are in order for EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East. See the Friends of the Earth Middle East site for the full press release:

“EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) today announced it is the recipient of a three-year, $750,000 award from the Skoll Foundation to expand its cross border community based activities and deepen its organizational capacity to advance water and peace issues in the Middle East.

The award is one of seven new Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship presented by the Skoll Foundation to recognize the most innovative and sustainable approaches to resolving the world’s most urgent social issues. EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East joins a prestigious global network of Skoll entrepreneurs, now numbering 72 and representing 59 organizations, who are working around the world on issues including tolerance and human rights, health, economic and social equity, peace and security, institutional responsibility, and environmental sustainability.

FoEME’s unique innovation is the development of a shared regional vision to respond to the demise of the region’s transboundary natural ecosystems. These include the Dead Sea, the Jordan River, the Mountain and Coastal Aquifers, and the effects of Climate Change on the water resources in our region. FoEME’s model employs a combined “top-down” (advocacy) strategy and a “bottom-up” (grass roots / community) strategy, where through the “Good Water Neighbors” community project, activities are carried out in all sectors of society – youth, adults and municipalities – to get our message across at a grass roots level.

“In the midst of conflict, we have produced very tangible results. All of the key issues that the organization has led are on the local, national, regional and often international agenda”, said Munqeth Mehyar FoEME’s Jordanian Director. “Not only will the Skoll support enable us to simply do more and do it more effectively, but the recognition given will help open news doors of influence,” he further stated.

“In these tough times, it’s particularly important to recognize those exemplary organizations that tackle the world’s most pressing social and economic challenges and deliver real change,” said Sally Osberg, president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “We’re pleased to welcome the three Directors of EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East; Gidon Bromberg, Munqeth Mehyar and Nader Khateeb to the community of Skoll social entrepreneurs. Friends of the Earth Middle East is supporting systemic change in the areas of environmental sustainability and peace and security. Its innovative approach will bring great new ideas and new points of leverage into the ecosystem of Skoll social entrepreneurs working around the globe to create a world in which we all want to live.”

Gidon Bromberg, Munqeth Mehyar and Nader Khateeb were presented the award by Skoll Foundation Chairman Jeff Skoll, Skoll Foundation President and CEO, Sally Osberg and special guest, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. R. K. Pachauri, at a ceremony on March 26 at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University. Gidon Bromberg, Munqeth Mehyar and Nader Khateeb participated in the three-day World Forum along with over 700 attendees from the global social entrepreneurship community.

About Friends of the Earth Middle East:
EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) (www.foeme.org) is a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists. Our primary objective is the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect our shared environmental heritage. In so doing, we seek to advance both sustainable regional development and the creation of necessary conditions for lasting peace in our region. FoEME has offices in Amman, Bethlehem, and Tel-Aviv. FoEME is a member of Friends of the Earth International, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the world.

About the Skoll Foundation:
The Skoll Foundation was created in 1999 by eBay’s first president, Jeff Skoll, to promote his vision of a more peaceful and prosperous world. Today, the Skoll Foundation advances systemic change to benefit communities around the world by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs – individuals dedicated to innovative, bottom-up solutions that transform unequal and unjust social, environmental and economic systems.

The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship is the foundation’s flagship program. There are currently 59 organizations represented by 72 remarkable social entrepreneurs in the program, working individually and together across regions, countries and continents to deliver positive, sustainable change. The Skoll Foundation connects social entrepreneurs and other partners in the field via an online community at http://www.socialedge.org and through the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The foundation also celebrates social entrepreneurs by telling their stories through partnerships with the PBS Foundation and the Sundance Institute, with the goal of promoting large-scale public awareness of social entrepreneurship.

For more information, visit http://www.skollfoundation.org.”

J-Street, Seven Jewish Children, climate change, informational bias and manufactured controversy

On Engage, David Hirsh flags up J-Street’s whole-hearted endorsement of Caryl Churchill’s play ‘Seven Jewish Children‘. The J-Street statement included:

“The decision to feature Seven Jewish Children at Theater J should be judged not on the basis of the play’s content but, rather, on its value in sparking a difficult but necessary conversation within our community. To preclude even the possibility of such a discussion does a disservice not only to public discourse, but also to the very values of rigorous intellectual engagement and civil debate on which our community prides itself.”

“Necessary conversation”. Debate. Discussion. Ends in themselves. De facto positives.

I don’t think so. I think debate is often fetishised to its own detriment and to the detriment of principles we should uphold as uncontroversial.

This weekend I watched Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘, a film about climate change and humankind’s collective responsibility to reduce our emissions in order to safeguard our future in general, and most immediately the future of the people of low-lying countries such as Bangladesh.

It seems obvious to me that each of us has a personal responsibility to the environment and should attempt to act accordingly. I have been able to arrange my life to hardly ever fly or drive, not to eat animal, buy to last, buy sustainably, conserve energy and materials, create habitats, and other measures. Other people will take different measures in different proportions. I could do more – the obstacles are to do with lack of support rather than lack of conviction.

But one of the most interesting parts of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for me was the discussion about manufactured controversy. Of a large sample of 10% of all peer-reviewed research papers on climate change published during the decade up till 2006 (n=928), there was 75% explicit consensus that climate change was anthropogenic – caused by human activity – and none of the remaining 25% disagreed with this consensus position. (A summary of this study is available in Science Magazine.)

The media’s failure to reflect this may well go down in history as the single largest reason why campaigners who are attempting to get us to value professional journalists in a digital age will be met with sad head-shaking. Gore says that 53% of media reports on climate change gave the impression that the the theory of anthropogenic climate change was suspect.

The most generous explanation (and I’ll ignore the others) for this is that the professional media is permeated with the imperative to provide journalistic balance and that this balance is often interpreted as countering strong voices with opposing points of view. In the case of climate change the result is informational bias.

In J-Street’s case, the imperative is something different. This position on Caryl Churchill is a manifestation of an aspect of J-Street that makes me uncomfortable. It’s not the entirety of J-Street – it’s the part which tries to fend off antisemitism with appeasement. “They say there’s a Jewish lobby? Well, we’ll show them a second Jewish lobby which speaks against the one they hate. We’ll be seen to criticise Israel. We’ll be recognised as US patriots. And then they’ll leave us alone”. The pathos is acute.

The result is that Caryl Churchill’s play which casts Jewish parents as the perpetuators of war and mental infirmity is touted as the occasion for a “difficult but necessary conversation”. To me and others it just looks racist.

And being racist, what is there to debate?

Michael Green on West Bank settlers who want out

A substantial piece in the Jerusalem Post by Michael Green who blogs at Green Prophet (and incidentally grew up down the road from where I now live).

“His motives for leaving are explicitly political: “We have to make peace with the Palestinians and to do that we have to leave. I understand that our place isn’t here.”

Raz and others want their homes in the West Bank to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority in the framework of a peace agreement, but aren’t prepared to rely on a peace process which has yielded meager results in the last 15 years. “We’re already living in two states, the State of Israel and a dictatorial state in the territories,” he says.

Izzy echoes a similar view: “I feel like I’m in the state of Palestine when I travel to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. It’s not nice for me to say that.”

“You won’t find a place like this in Tel Aviv or Kfar Saba,” Raz says proudly of his seven-room house, which originally cost him $130,000.

“It’s the greatest place on Earth. I live on top of a mountain and see goats each day,” says Roi Raz. “But I want to leave because it could be the solution to this conflict; it’s a bone stuck in our throats.”

Read the whole thing.

Lieberman dumps Annapolis

“Pursuing peace on every front” means something different to Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s new hard-line Foreign Minister, than it does to most people, including the Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has pledged to pursue peace. Lieberman, on the other hand, has pledged to continue with Bush’s roadmap but has brushed aside Annapolis on the puny grounds that it wasn’t ratified.

Israel’s Movement For Quality Government launched a petition to disqualify him from government because of an ongoing police investigation – but an ongoing investigation was insufficient reason, said the State Prosecutors Office.

On OpenDemocracy, Daniel-Joseph MacArthur-Seal (!) has just published a security briefing which points out:

“Hamas denied any difference between the two administrations or any of the other “governments of the Zionist entity…. because all of them have killed and slaughtered our people”.

This suggests there is no Israeli government Hamas would negotiate with. Maybe it’s just talk, but Hamas love death and state that they will ethnicly cleanse Palestine of Jews. Lieberman’s type thrives on fear and to a significant extent it is Hamas who are responsible for his power. There are many reasons to suppose that the presence of Lieberman is going to strengthen the pro-war elements of Palestinian politics.  Radicalisation cuts both ways.