Save all the beaches? Starting with Palmachim beach?

by Maskil on 28 Mar 2008

It is generally accepted that the green movement (in the broadest sense) in Israel is less mature than in other western countries, and that this is mainly due to Israel’s longstanding security concerns (in our blacker moments, her struggle for survival). While the safety and security of Israel and its citizens is far from being a “done deal”, Israeli’s have started allowing themselves the “luxury” of focusing on other issues, including the environment and social justice in general.

One trend that I find quite interesting is that the initiative is now frequently being taken by young, informal, local activist groups, often concerned with a single, specific issue. These groups have tended to make use of both activity on the ground (e.g. camping out at Palmachim beach) and innovative use of social networking tools such as Facebook and YouTube to further the cause. Venerable conservation bodies are then left floundering to explain why they have not acted, or in same cases signed off on some plundering of the common wealth by rapacious developers.

I have the highest regard for Israel’s esteemed conservation bodies, such as the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), who carried the torch of the environment during long decades of official and public neglect. For a variety of reasons (mainly centered around budgets and resources), they are unable to tackle every single environmental ill; they are forced to choose, and in some cases compromise. Where other groups do take the initiative, however, it is important for the established bodies to lend support (even if only moral), or risk becoming irrelevant. Formal and informal/issue-specific bodies should form a “tag-team”, each using their strengths to compensate for the other’s weaknesses.

Those involved in conservation tend to have (or develop) one of three mindsets:

  • Save everything!
  • We can’t save everything (we need to pick our fights)
  • They’re destroying OUR beach/park/river/trees!

We each need to decide which of these approaches suits us best and adopt an organisation that mirrors our approach. There is much wisdom in the time-honoured conservationist saying “Think Globally, Act Locally”. We would like to save the planet (eventually), but for now maybe we could “just” save all the beaches? One at a time? Starting with Palmachim beach? Even if we end up losing that fight, hopefully we’ll learn lessons we can apply to the next one. And there will always be a next one…

A few examples of these local initiatives:

Timna Valley:

Pave paradise and put up a hotel complex | Jerusalem Post

Altneuland: King Solomon’s Mines. No, really…

Kokhav Ya’ir (initiative to protect a forest from encroachment by a shopping mall):

YouTube – Kokhav Ya’ir (Israel) – save the forest support video

Palmahim Beach:

Facebook | help us save palmchim

Battle for the beach | Jerusalem Post

Who stole my beach? – Haaretz – Israel News

Other users of social networking:

Facebook | Israel, Judaism and the Environment

Facebook | Zalul Environmental Association for Israel

One I haven’t seen any opposition to yet:

US-Israeli developer brings golf to Israel’s historic Mount Arbel – ISRAEL21c

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