Blog Action Day: Environment

The 15th of October is the annual "Blog Action Day". This year's theme is the environment. A very important, yet largely ignored theme here in Palestine. The responsibility of the damage that is being caused to the environment in Palestine is shared between Palestinians and, as with all bad things, Israelis.
On the Palestinian side, it is both unawareness and lack of interest that are contributing to the problem. For a country that is under occupation, coming up with a call for saving the environment seems to many as a luxury, an effort better spent elsewhere. Many argue that we have other national priorities which are more urgent, referring to dealing with/resisting the occupation. We have a tendency to postpone looking into all things important: Democracy, freedoms, poverty, environment, law and order.... until our main problem is resolved. But it doesn't seem to be going in that direction. The occupation is there, and fighting against it (in any form), does not necessarily mean that we should not think of improving other aspects of our life. Otherwise, and it seems we are going in that direction, poverty will spread even further, we will face more restrictions on our freedoms, we will end up living in a largely unhealthy environment and in a potentially larger chaos and lack of personal security. So while maintaining that occupation is evil and we should work on ending it, we should also, try to help ourselves in having better lives by working on other questions.
The notion that environmental activism is a western luxury is prevalent in this place. That's why it lies at the bottom of everyone's agenda. What we fail to notice is that it is not a luxury, but rather a need. We also fail to recognise how we can lead more environmentally friendly lives with little or even no drop in convenience. The internet is full of resources and suggestions on how you can do this. A car with smaller engine, turn off lights you don't need, reduce, reuse& recycle, less detergents, organic food.... very easy things, and in fact these really enhance your standard of living. Someone should take up the issue!
Israelis on the other hand, hold the greater share of the damage. Air pollution and water degradation, and loss of land and other natural resources are just an example. Israelis continue to view the oPt as a free source of everything they need and, as with all free things, they do not value it. They continue to treat this country as just another place which can be trashed at no cost. We babble a lot about the Israelis' lack of regard to Palestinian environment, yet we do nothing about it. Neither as a leadership nor as a people have we ever been so passive in our lives. We watch, feel pain, and then we move on.
With such attitudes, this place will quickly cease to be inhabitable. Then we can only feel sorry about the times when we could have changed it and stood there doing nothing.


Sheema said...

Hi Ned,

Have you considered getting involved with the Palestine Wildlife Society (PWLS)? I believe their HQ is in Beit Sahour, but not sure what they're up to these days.

I have a Palestinian friend from East Jerusalem who used to work for them...he's now researching the links between natural heritage and cultural heritage in Palestine, with specific reference to traditional olive terraces.

Palestine has such amazingly beautiful nature AND culture - I do hope more people get involved in helping to preserve them!

Ned said...

Hi Sheema,
Thanks for the tip. I have heard of the PWLS and usually follow their website. Never worked with them though.
The marvelous thing about Palestine in my opinion is how diverse it is, from mountains, desert, coast and Jordan river basin. To me its as if the world was concentrated here.