Post-War Environmental Sustainability In Israel

The Heschel Center based in Tel Aviv has a hand on just about every NGO in Israel; the group's founder has been featured in online environmental magazine Grist here. And when it comes to talking about post-war clean-up in the Middle East, the people at Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership are sticking to their old message of sustainability. Two Fridays ago, the center hosted a conference in the North (it was supposed to happen earlier but was postponed due to the war) called Galilee Maof. Here's what Heschel's David Paran says about the meet: "In the aftermath of the 2nd Lebanon War," Paran writes, "as the Israeli government makes noise and takes stock of the vaguely defined 'problems' in the North of the country, 20 social and environmental change NGOs met to carve out a common agenda and to form a coalition for a sustainable Galilee."The conference, says Paran, was organized by the Heschel Center to explore the underlying causes of environmental degradation in Israel's rich and delicate landscape. "We want to examine the major challenges and to try to formulate a program for change.

"In contrast with its reputation as a picturesque tourist destination," Paran continues, "the North is replete with garbage dumps, polluted rivers, industrial development, sprawl, building in open spaces and more. One important aspect of these problems which the conference dealt with is the correlation between environmental problems and discrimination of Arab towns and villages in the area."

The organizations will try to establish Jewish-Arab cooperation as a key feature of their vision of a sustainable Galilee, says Paran.

The two-day conference took place on 13-14 September at Kibbutz Ginossar near the Kineret Lake (Sea of Galilee), and is part of the Heschel Center's Local Sustainability Support Center, established in 2006 through a 3-year grant from the EC's Life Third countries program. To contact David Paran, email here. Read more about Heschel's Environmental Fellows Program. ::Yedioth Aharonot (In Hebrew)