Israel and the Environment – a meeting that should not happen

I hope you won’t mind my writing to ask if you would be willing to sign the
attached open letter. It asks David Bellamy to withdraw from participation
in a forthcoming event aimed to ‘showcase’ Israel’s environmentalist
credentials, and the contributions of its environmental scientists.

Israel has actually been responsible for environmental degradation on a
massive scale in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as the letter to
Bellamy specifies.

I am writing to you as a signatory to the letter, signed by close to 400
people, objecting to the Israel Science Days held in March last year at the
Science Museum in London and its sister museum in Manchester. So great was
the opposition in 2009 that this time round the organisers, the Zionist
Federation, are keeping the location secret!

This letter has been drafted by BRICUP, the British Committee for the
Universities of Palestine. Our intention will be to gain as much media
publicity for it as we can. This time we are looking for signatures only
from those who are or have been teachers and/or researchers at UK
universities, and from public figures. We hope that you will sign. Also your
help in gaining additional signatures will be much appreciated. Names of
people willing to sign, preferably with their institutions/titles should
reach me at

j.rosenhead[at]lse.ac.uk

no later than Wednesday February 3rd.

Yours,

Jonathan Rosenhead
Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics

****************
Dear David Bellamy:

We are writing you this open letter to ask you not to take part in the Zionist Federation’s event Israel: Blue, White and Green, scheduled to take place on the evening of February 9th.

As you will know this is part of a whole day of activities, of which the first part (called Israel and the Environment 2010) is aimed specifically at 6th form pupils. This is the follow-on from last year’s ‘Israel Science Days’ held at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, and at the Science Museum in London.

We note, as you must have done, that the outrage at the Israel Science Days has caused the Zionist Federation to treat the location of this year’s events as a closely guarded secret. All they will say is that they will be at a ‘Central London Venue’. That secrecy alone should give you some pause for thought.

We are outraged, and think you ought to be too, at the prospect of Israel presenting itself (especially to relatively unformed minds) as a champion of environmentalist virtues. Their university scientists, as elsewhere, have made some useful contributions. These events, however, will try to use these to ‘greenwash’ the whole state of Israel. Consider the contrasting reality on the ground:
• over-pumping by Israel to supply its illegal settlements has drastically reduced the level of the water table in the Occupied Territories
• military attacks on Gaza’s waste treatment facilities has caused large sewage lakes to develop
• West Bank settlements are dumping untreated sewage and waste water into the valleys, polluting Palestinian water sources and agriculture
• Israeli companies have for years been dumping hazardous and solid waste in the West Bank
• the assault on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009 wantonly laid waste to large areas of fertile agriculture, and left a heritage of long-lasting poisonous residues in Gaza City
• industries which are seen as toxic or undesirable in Israel have been set up in the West Bank where they can operate without tiresome restrictions
• many of Israel’s Nature Reserves and National Parks have been sited to obliterate the memory of destroyed Palestinian villages
• during the Occupation Israel has up-rooted or otherwise destroyed over 1½ million trees, mostly olive trees
• Israel drives out Palestinians from their land by demolishing water cisterns, destroying irrigation systems, smashing solar panels, declaring water facilities “closed military areas” etc.

This is what Amnesty International in its 2009 report (Troubled Waters – Palestinians denied fair access to water: Israel-Occupied Palestinian Territories, 2009) has to say:

“during more than four decades of occupation of the Palestinian territories Israel has over-exploited Palestinian water resources, neglected the water and sanitation infrastructure in the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories), and used the OPT as a dumping ground for its waste – causing damage to the groundwater resources and the environment…..Israel has[established] dumpsites throughout the OPT without lining them, leaving dangerous substances, including hazardous industrial waste, to permeate through the soil and pollute the aquifer”

This is the reality of Israel’s environmental ‘credentials’. No environmental scientist of integrity should collaborate in this public relations exercise for a noxious regime, or in the attempted indoctrination of a swathe of Britain’s school students.

[signed]

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I'm a teacher, writer, and activist based in Bangalore. I am dedicated to various issues including #BDS and Palestine, living a Zero Waste life, and putting the carbon back into the soil through composting!

Posted in Boycott, British Academia, British Organizing, Take Action, Why Boycott?!
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