Jewish Voice for Peace is an organization committed to justice for the Palestinian people. So why are we joining the March to End Fossil Fuels?
Of course, environmental catastrophe threatens the very existence of life on Earth, and thus everyone needs to be deeply concerned about addressing climate change. Beyond this general commitment that we all ought to have to combatting fossil fuels, supporters of Palestinian rights have further reasons for being here, relating to the geopolitical role of oil and environmental oppression by Israel.
Much of U.S. foreign policy since the end of World War II has been driven by the overriding goal of securing and controlling Middle East oil—what U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson deemed “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history”. This was one reason for the U.S. allying itself with Israel—to help put down radical forces in the Arab world that threatened the pro-U.S. oil kingdoms. For example, Israel joined with Saudi Arabia in the 1960s to support the royalists in Yemen. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it in 2017, Israel was “a mighty aircraft carrier” for the United States.
However, it’s not just been about oil. Israel has played a direct role in destroying the environment of the Palestinian people. It has stolen their land and their resources. It drove hundreds of thousands from their homes in 1948 and continues to dispossess Palestinians today. Under the guise of “making the desert bloom”, it gave diaspora Jews a stake in the land by planting a tree in their name and creating national forests. In doing so, Israel has destroyed Palestinian villages and has covered up their previous existence.
The Israeli government has been identified as an “apartheid” regime by leading human rights organizations (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, and B’Tselem, among others). Numerous discriminatory government policies promote and perpetuate Jewish supremacy throughout Palestine. Case in point: Israeli control and management of water resources that enable Israelis to consume, per capita, 3 times as much water as Palestinians in the West Bank. This disparity permits Israelis to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle even as Palestinians suffer chronic water shortages. These policies will only continue to get worse with climate warming.
For years, Israel has imposed an unrelenting blockade of Gaza that has increasingly rendered the territory uninhabitable. As Friends of the Earth International recently warned, half of Gaza’s two mil-
lion people now live in poverty, 80% depend on some form of humanitarian aid, and 69% of its youth are unemployed. Only 4% of water in Gaza is fit for human use, and up to 35% of its agricultural land and as much as 85% of its fishing waters have been restricted by Israel at various points.
Israel must be held accountable for its contribution to human suffering. And its “greening” policies must be revealed for what they truly are: implementation of their repressive and discriminatory policies targeted at expelling Palestinians from their homeland.