May 21, 2008

Fair cooperation and water needs-based approach to solve the water crisis in Middle East

Posted in cooperation, water at 4:45 pm by Mira Vogel

It’s been a while since I posted news of Israeli and Palestinian collaboration on solving a shared environmental problem – here’s news of high level work amongst international water experts on one of the critical outstanding issues for Israelis and Palestinians – a joint redefinition of water needs. (The ‘Peres’ in the ‘Peres Centre for Peace‘ is the Israeli President, Shimon Peres). The consensus is:

  • There is a basic human need for water resources of approximately 60 m3 per capita per year for human health, hygiene and running a water efficient economy that permits sufficient social and economic development to allow progress towards providing all people with a high quality of life.
  • After this basic human need has been met, priority must be given to providing water for base flows in rivers and streams to prevent ecosystem collapse, and water for livelihoods for vulnerable groups that lack any alternative economic opportunities.
  • Water surplus to these basic needs must be allocated between nations on an equitable basis, and subsequently allocated to economic uses relating to such production activities as those nations choose through their own internal processes, while taking into consideration principles of economic efficiency, social equity, environmental sustainability and international water law.

More work is needed on the principles of allocation, and this is related to the still-awaited final status agreement:

Oren Blonder from The Peres Center for Peace summarized:“ The purpose of the Water Needs in Middle East Initiative is to identify and agree upon possible definitions of water needs. Once these definitions will be elucidated, they will be used by Israeli and Palestinian experts, assembled by Green Cross and the Peres Center for Peace, together with the Jerusalem Institute and Palestinian Hydrology Group, to formulate water need scenarios for Israel/Palestine“. Upon completion of the research, a final conference will be held in Paris and the potential outcomes resulting from the project will be examined, as will the potential effects of the project on the revival of the Palestinian and Israeli water sectors. The results of this research will play an instrumental role in the final status negotiations.

March 29, 2008

Women bring green educational institute to Arab sector. The role of a boycott is…?

Posted in boycott, british greens, cooperation, education at 12:30 pm by Mira Vogel

The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reports on a joint initiative between a group of 17 Israeli Arab women and the Israeli Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel to establish an educational institute in the Galilee region that will teach environmental conservation, recycling and ecology:

The women, aged 30 to 35, come from varied backgrounds – Druze, Moslem and Christian. They are being instructed by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

“This is the first group of Arab women to learn about environmental issues,” said Muadi. Explaining that in her neighborhood, environmental awareness is still in its infancy, she added: “We therefore decided to start with activities in the schools, because change has to begin with the students.”

After completing an SPNI course on environmental education, the women joined the staff of SPNI’s field school, which runs the environmental program in the village’s elementary school. The women gave several lessons to every grade, covering environmental topics such as nature, water, recycling, air pollution and ecology. Last week, the women and students went on a field trip that included a clean-up operation.

“The women’s involvement as part of SPNI’s teaching staff,” said Vasil Hazima, director of SPNI’s field school in Maghar”

The Green Party’s boycott Resolution C05 – part of a wider boycott and divestment initiative – currently acts against these types of partnerships. It is an entirely negative force that promotes hostility and inevitably contributes to pressure on Israel’s Arab (or Palestinian – depending on how they self-define) to turn their backs on such initiatives.

This pressure is evidenced in the experience of a delegation of philanthropists who were visiting Israeli Arab villages and institutions to research how best they might contribute to the kind of inclusive, equal society which is prerequisite of any kind of conflict resolution. There was a small but loud call to boycott the delegation. Here’s what Ami Nahshon, one of its members, had to say:

While the call to boycott fell on deaf ears among the vast majority of Arab public and civil society leaders, it taught all of us an important lesson: that the lines of conflict in Israel are not between the Arab and Jewish communities, but rather between those Jews and Arabs who embrace a vision of an inclusive and just society, and those who seem intent on pursuing an agenda of separatism and alienation. Our visit convinced us that it is our duty, as diaspora leaders, to embrace and support those who share this inclusive vision, and not to allow ourselves to be distracted by the separatist voices at the political fringes of both communities.

There is also the experience of peace activist Mohamad Darawshe part of an Israeli Jewish and Arab fact-finding mission to Northern Ireland who was boycotted by a Northern Irish International Relations academic for being Israeli.

And the experience of the Palestinian and Israeli workers and promoters of the Peace Oil initiative, a charity which was subject to a Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) sabotage attempt.

“Anything that the Zionist Federation could get excited about would be bound to inflame the PSC. Pro-boycotters tend to act jealous when Palestinians cooperate with Israelis and frequently attempt to break things up. Targetting Israeli-Arab-Palestinian cooperation and making an issue out of the only product in the Good Gifts catalogue with an Israel connection is a wedge-driving tactic and part of the general boycott strategy. It’s of a piece with their hard work to stop OneVoice dual peace concerts in Tel Aviv and Jericho, and their condemnation of Israeli academics for apathy while simultaneously encouraging and pressurising Palestinian academics to have nothing to do with them.”

OneVoice is a citizens’ Israeli-Palestinian peace movement which was sabotaged by boycotters when they attempted to stage joint peace concerts in Tel Aviv and Jericho.

What contribution has the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement had on improving Palestinian lives and advancing towards a just resolution to the conflict? None. It’s logic is to polarise, not reconcile. And meanwhile Israel’s reprehensible settlement activity in Har Homa and Givat Ze’ev continues, in the face of the Annapolis agreement to freeze activity, and despite the long-overdue evacuation of 18 ‘outposts’. The security barrier’s mission creep endures, causing it to bite deep into Palestinian territory. Hamas consolidates power in Gaza, tolerating or promoting the persecution of Christians, journalists and Trade Unionists. Gazan women take up the veil to avoid negative attention. Fatah, the secular political force in the West Bank weakens as the clerical, anti-democratic parties of Hamas and Hizb ut Tahrir gain ground. Iran funds weapons for Hamas and Hesbollah.

The Green boycott is the opposite of helpful. Any green activist should understand that it has no place in a movement which purports to support ecological and environmental activism. Its logic is conflict, separatism and alienation, and we should get rid of it as soon as possible.

The Green Party should turn its back on anything that contributes to this pressure by rescinding Resolution C05. If we care about a peace beween Palestinians and Israelis, we should work on an alternative vision. And we will.

March 25, 2008

BDS would end funding and partnership for anti-pollution project

Posted in cooperation, pollution, water at 12:12 pm by Mira Vogel

Cooperation along the lines of the Stream Restoration Project undertaken by Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Ben Gurion’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Palestinian NGO Water and Environmental Development Organization (WEDO), and Tel Aviv University’s Institute for Conservation and Nature Research.

Background in last December’s Haaretz.

The ultimate aim of this research is to lay the foundations for an effective river restoration strategy for Israel and Palestine. This research is funded by the Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

MERC projects must include at least one Israeli and one Arab partner. It’s obvious that the “broad” boycott, divestment and sanctions “similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era” as called for by the BDS campaign and supported by the Green Party in Resolution C05, would harm this project, its developing partnerships, the state of the water, and the plants and animals living in it.

BDS looks less and less like good Green policy.

Hat tip: Hamish Q Cumber.

March 20, 2008

Greens should recognise that climate change is an international threat requiring international cooperation – no exceptions

Posted in climate change, cooperation at 4:21 pm by greensstoptheboycott

Here’s an example of international cooperation – people from different parts of the worlds learning about each others’ environmental successes and failures by going hiking together.

The boycott is un-Green.