The Democratic takeover of the House in the US Congressional elections was a crushing blow to Trump and the Republican Party. It raised a new alternative agenda for America called “A Green New Deal.” Promoting this is 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress. She is backed by Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist. Before being sworn in as a member of Congress, Cortez’s first step was to join a group of young people who conducted a sit-in at the office of Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi, demanding that she adopt the new green order.
The struggle against Trump and what he represents – his denial of climate change, his unwavering support for oil companies, his hatred of foreigners and women have forced the Democratic majority in Congress to come up with an alternative plan to seize control of the White House in 2020. It seems that the common denominator of popular movements that have taken to the streets against Trump – be they Latinos, Afro-Americans or women – is their support for a green economy. The Green New Deal is gradually becoming a consensus within the Democratic Party, House Democratic leaders have created a new select committee on climate change to pursue a Green New Deal. Ocasio-Cortez is calling to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030. (In contrast, Israel has set a much more modest goal of reaching only 17% renewable energy by that year). However, the debate over the significance of the Green New Deal is much broader than simply an agreement on renewable energy.
For Ocasio-Cortez and for Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister (who resigned after opposing the austerity plan that Merkel forced on Greece), the Green New Deal includes ambitious social reforms. These are designed to replace existing neoliberal regimes and their clear preferences for large corporations at the expense of workers and the middle classes. The left wing of the Democratic Party is targeting the same electorate that shifted its support to Trump after losing jobs, savings, and housing in the 2008 financial crisis. When the left wing of the Democratic Party talks about a new green order, it is referring to a National Health Insurance Law (such as in Israel), free college tuition, taxing large corporations, and channeling corporate profits to the welfare of employees. They also call for reforming Wall Street and the banking system and modifying the current equation in which the 1 percent of the rich amasses as much wealth as the rest combined, a situation that undermines the foundations of democratic regimes.
The international economic meltdown of 2008 passed quietly over Israel. Its economy continued to grow, and its neoliberalism, based on the free-market economy, continues to thrive, even though the same neoliberal policy nearly brought down the economies of the United States, Spain, Greece, and Britain. Healthcare is reasonable, college tuition is fair, and few Israelis have lost their homes.
The dominant issues in Israel today are Iran, Gaza, the nation-state law, and government corruption. The fate of the earth and the existing economic and social systems do not occupy center stage in the public discourse. It is as if we live on another planet. What the government and the opposition share is a stubborn adherence to a path that results in a dead end for humanity. On the political level, Israel completely ignores the lives of the 5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.
In Israel, the issue of climate change ebbs in the face of the imaginary existential wave that Netanyahu is riding – the Iranian threat. Moreover, the discovery of gas deposits only reinforces the feeling here that energy independence is around the corner. The gas rig adjacent to Dor Beach demonstrates even better the fact that Israel lives on another planet, one where Yitzhak Tshuva and Noble Energy profit at the expense of all.
The struggle of the green movement in Israel together with movements that support sustainability and cooperation is undoubtedly complicated and challenging. This is not just due to the influence of tycoons and their proximity to power, but also because Israeli society is awash with populism, racism, and hate. In the United States and Europe, the green movement is accompanied by a social platform that seeks equality, eradicating poverty, supporting refugees, and resisting war. The green movement in Israel tends to separate from the Left, remain in the consensus, and sometimes even work with the Right. The perception that Israel can be both Jewish and democratic, as well as green, is an illusion. Concern for the fate of the planet, while ignoring the fate of millions of Palestinians who are living without clean water, electricity, and rights, cries out to the heavens.
The political party Da’am (Organization for Democratic Action) has adopted the green agenda, not as an election gimmick or because it is in fashion. Da’am operates out of the understanding that society must commit itself to renewable energy, basing itself on economic sustainability, cooperation, local initiatives, and international solidarity. This is the only answer to Trump’s nationalism, to Netanyahu’s racism, and to the neoliberal economy, which is undermining democratic regimes and furthering fascism.
The fourth industrial revolution builds on the Internet, artificial intelligence, robotics, and social platforms that are changing society. It provides us with new challenges related to the way we consume, create, and work. What will be the face of a country whose citizens succeed in leading these changes? The deep crisis in European and American democracies has created a broad debate and a search for new economic and social models. These will address not only the fate of the planet, but also the fate of millions who work hard at jobs that no longer keep them alive, if they haven’t already become unemployable.
However, an economic solution cannot be realized without a political solution. Therefore, from a holistic perspective, we call for a one-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. It is obvious that such a state cannot be founded on the existing socioeconomic system. A new green economic order must be created that mobilizes existing Israeli technological expertise to change the way of life. Priority must be given to ideological, social and political spheres.
Yet no new approach can work if it does not include the Palestinians. They will need to shake off the Occupation, freeing themselves from the dictatorial regimes of Abu Mazen and Hamas, as well as from national and religious ideologies. Then they will be able to adopt a democratic program and an economic platform based on technological progress and renewable energy.
Those who believe that the current situation will continue indefinitely are mistaken. The Arab world is in a state of turmoil. Like the millions who have upended the regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen,and Syria, Palestinians will never accept autonomy overseen by a military regime that combines repression with poverty and backwardness. Even before the earth reaches the boiling point, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will stand up for civil rights, electricity, clean drinking water, clean air, decent schools and hospitals. They will demand adequate housing and work together with freedom of movement and expression. Da’am’s green program includes all this. We join other movements and parties under the slogan “Another World is Possible.”
– Translated from the Hebrew by Robert Goldman