Israel is widely seen as a world leader in innovative pro-environment policies and in sharing its expertise with developing nations.
But Israel isn’t green enough for the Green Party of the US.
On Nov 21, the group betrayed its own mission to support environment-friendly nations and joined the anti-Israel campaign. It passed a resolution calling for divestment and boycotts of Israel “until such time as the full individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people are realized.”
Like other divestment tracts, the Green Party position is rife with factual and historical distortions. Israel offered the Palestinians “full individual and collective rights” over a decade ago.
It is not surprising that the Greens are misinformed. Like other divestment resolutions, the Green Party vote was railroaded through by a small, but vocal and radical faction of the party’s leadership, led by Palestinian-American activist Mohammed Abed from the party’s Wisconsin chapter. Abed is a tireless activist and propagandist who is at the forefront of the vehemently anti-Israel Al-Awda Palestinian Right to Return Coalition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and of the university’s student-run Divest From Israel Campaign.
For the past few years, pro-Palestinian factions have used this strategy to try to get divestment resolutions accepted in other American organizations and institutions. Their efforts on prestigious US campuses failed when anti-divestment petitions received over ten times as many signatures as divestment petitions. When a small coterie of activists in Britain’s Association of University Teachers (AUT) engineered passage of a divestment resolution in April 2005, it provoked an international storm of protest. Within a month, AUT revoked it as much because of the coterie’s surreptitious tactics as because of the resolution’s prejudice and distortions. A Palestinian Christian group, the Jerusalem-based Sabeel Center, and a small group of activists persuaded the Presbyterian Church USA to call for divestment in the summer of 2004. It, too, caused an uproar and divided the church both because of the tactics used and because of anti-Semitic and pro-terrorism bias in the resolution. As a result, the Presbyterians are likely to overturn the resolution at their next General Assembly meeting in June 2006.
Now the Green Party has also been yanked aboard the divestment train and the same results are likely. Veterans in the Green Party are already condemning the decision because they are keenly aware of its bias and its implicit endorsement of both Palestinian and Islamist terrorism. Veteran Green Party member Laurna Salzman said the organization’s new anti-Israel stance, “provides cover not only for anti-Semites but for radical Islamists and Palestine apologists and makes a mockery of the (Green Party’s) own professed nonviolence position.” In Salzman’s view, the Greens should not be exploiting their activist network for a specific, narrow and partisan political agenda.
The moral and factual distortions of the divestment resolution are not the only reason it is a damning position for the Greens to take. It is also paradoxical because Israel is a model of the kind of environmental and humanitarian issues the Greens support.
Consider just one representative example: Israeli agriculture professor Dov Pasternak, a desert agriculture specialist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev who has been dedicated to solving environmental problems beyond his country’s borders;
In June 2000, Pasternak began a two-year assignment in West Africa’s desert-dominated Niger to help small farmers in Africa’s desert regions grow better crops of dates and figs. The Vatican embraced Pasternak’s “African Market Garden” program and spread word of it to West African leaders. Before reaching out to Africa, Pasternak had spent 15 years on Israeli-Egyptian agricultural cooperation.
Pasternak is not an isolated example. From its earliest days, when it was still a young nation struggling to develop, Israel set up programs to bring its innovations and expertise to developing countries. Its Center for International Cooperation, MASHAV, conducts nearly 300 courses annually to offer emerging nations its knowledge and development experience. Israel has trained almost 200,000 participants – in over 130 countries from Albania to Zimbabwe – in desert agriculture, water management, desertification prevention, early childhood education, community development, emergency and disaster medicine and refugee absorption.
These efforts are emblematic of Israel’s desire to reach out to the world in friendship and to achieve a lasting, responsible peace with the Palestinians. The Green Party should be praising and encouraging Israel for its remarkable humanitarian and environmental efforts. Instead, the Greens allowed themselves to be hijacked by propagandists. It is a pity for those who support peace and progressive ideals.
Some groups have already mobilized, urging the Greens to rescind their misguided resolution. The international group that I work for, StandWithUs, has an online petition that already has thousands of signatures from people around the world.
Hopefully, the Greens will take heed, come to their senses and revoke this resolution which makes a mockery of every value they claim to represent.
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