The heat in Israel reached an all-time high. I stood at the Beit Rimon Junction in the middle of the day, waiting for the air-conditioned bus to save me from dehydration. My thoughts drifted to my 12-year-old granddaughter, located a few miles away at a summer camp in the Tzipori National Park. – But don’t worry about us, everything worked out fine. I returned home safely, my granddaughter drank lots of raspberry juice, took two showers daily with her friends and enjoyed the camping experience. Yet all over the country, from north to south, things were very different, fires rages and houses burned. The interesting thing is that this time there was no need to blame an “arson terrorist”. Suddenly it was obvious that the greatest terrorist causing the previous and current wave of fires is climate change—and those responsible for it.
This does not prevent the Israeli government, as well as its great friend in the White House, from living in denial and ignoring what is happening around them. The main issue in the Israeli news at the moment is Ehud Barak, who in a very popular video clip posted on Twitter suggested that Bibi Netanyahu drink water and relax as the party has only just begun. Indeed, the election campaign has become one big party. Its two main protagonists are Barak and Netanyahu, whose friendship goes back to an elite military unit but has been sundered now and then by political black cats.
All attention is today focused on Barak’s celebrations at Jeffrey Epstein’s home, on Epstein’s parties at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate some 20 years ago, on Bill Clinton and his more than 20 flights in Epstein’s plane and even on Epstein’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who is also suspected of enjoying Epstein’s parties. Yet Dershowitz, who obtained a plea bargain for Epstein in his previous trial for paedophilia and trafficking in young girls, also stands up for Bibi, publicly backing him in three corruption cases. It turns out that Netanyahu, who attacks Barak for his business partnership with Epstein and attendance at his parties, did not himself shy away from the parties and honours bestowed on him by billionaire James Packer. Nor did Bibi refuse the donations of billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who founded for him a freebie newspaper. Bibi also hung out with French Jewish billionaire Arnaud Mimran, whom a French court sentenced to eight years in prison for a huge scam.
Let no one have any doubts. Barak and Netanyahu are made from the same material. For his part, General Benny Gantz began his private career in a failed high-tech enterprise that was supposed to catapult him into the same glittering circle, one that included Shin Bet and Mossad agents and billionaires of all types. They all believe the world belongs to them and that everything is permitted them because folks love generals and billionaires, even if caught with pants down.
In such a situation, the attempt to talk about global warming and a climate emergency is futile. In Israel’s current political climate there is no one to talk to, especially since the programmatic differences between the political parties are negligible. These differences are reduced to nuances and to which clique of millionaires the contenders belong. At the core they love money and are hungry for power, not because the good of the people is a burning issue for them, but to guarantee the best interests of their millionaire associates, who will reward them when they leave politics.
Therefore, the two main issues that determine the fate and future of Israeli society, economic and political, have been swallowed up by the black hole of greed. The discussions within the parties focus on how not to lose support and how to improve their performances. On the Left the leaders were replaced – now it’s Amir Peretz instead of Avi Gabay in Labour, Nitzan Horowitz instead of Tamar Zandberg in Meretz, but the one who steals the show is undoubtedly Ehud Barak, with his campaign clips and the scandals he’s embroiled in. So far these leaders have cast their shadows over the other candidates. Meretz made a U-turn, horrified by the 40,000 votes of Arabs who saved it from annihilation in the April elections. Horowitz was supposed to bury Meretz deep within the Labour Party, bringing it back to the days of Mapai and Mapam. However, Amir Peretz has recently merged with the right-wing Gesher, led by Orly Levy Abukassis, leaving Meretz in limbo. As the saying goes, with friends like this who needs enemies?
The Arab Joint List is falling apart. The fewer the seats it can win, the greater the fighting between its various factions. Arab voters loathe the disgraceful scenes before them. The eternal victim, the National Democratic Alliance (“Balad”), is contemplating suicide, whether by running amok and thus below the minimum voting threshold, or by giving up the pleasure entirely and not running at all, which is the course urged by the associates of Azmi Bishara and Basel Ghattas. Regardless which of the left-wing or Arab parties cross the electoral threshold, the result will be a national unity government, as I stated in my previous article. The next government will continue to ignore the climate crisis while drilling-rigs carry on pumping gas to pollute the shores and enrich Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva, along with the American company Noble Energy. The mortality rate in the Haifa Bay will continue to rise and the Ministry of Environmental Protection will keep assisting the industrial polluters.
Needless to say, the health hazards and pollution in Arab communities will continue unabated. The lack of environmental awareness and the utter disregard for helping these communities out of the mess has not been addressed by any political party, Arab or other. As for the West Bank Palestinians, enclosed behind Israel’s separation barrier, they are threatened even more by air pollution, raw sewage flowing directly into river beds, open garbage dumps and non-investment in vital infrastructure.
Resolution of these burning (in every sense) problems requires close cooperation between all Arab and Jewish citizens inside Israel, and between the Palestinian and Israeli citizens on both sides of the accursed separation barrier. Israel built a wall, roadblocks and bypass roads, and it manages to impose its sovereignty with the generous help of the Palestinian Authority and the firm support of the White House. However, the pollution of air, soil and water sources cannot be blocked by a wall, no matter how high.
The climate crisis unites the fates of Palestinians and Israelis. Even while pollution crosses the wall, thousands of Palestinian workers commute illegally across the border in search of livelihood to escape the poverty and hunger imposed by Israeli governments. The alternatives to existing economic and environmental policies are crucial for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The green economy, built on renewable energy—with technology accessible to all—will form the basis for any future peace agreement.
The Da’am Party, which appears as the Knesset list “Green Economy – One State,” has decided to run again in the elections, not to improve its performance or gain a place for itself on one of the existing platforms. We run in order to broadcast our message that both Israeli and Palestinian societies must adopt the foundations of a green economy as a social and economic platform that will underpin any political solution. We call upon Arab and Jewish voters to unite behind a common political and environmental message. We see joint action for the promotion of solar energy, the transition to clean and shared transportation, recycling and waste reduction, and the removal of sanitary hazards and industrial pollution as the basis for a democratic, egalitarian and just society.
Faced with the Basic Law called “Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People,” faced as well with nationalist incitement, and also with policies that prefer the rich over the needs of society, we present a message of environmental and political solidarity. This is a joint struggle to save the planet from global warming and to save Israeli society from deterioration into apartheid. What is needed is the integration of Israelis and Palestinians for a common future, based on one political framework, one constitution, one parliament and the right of every citizen both to vote and to be elected. Those who want to save the environment must save Israeli society from its fascist trends and the Palestinian people from occupation. Whoever separates the environmental from the political struggle harms both democracy and the planet.