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Israel:Blog Action Day for the Environment

This post is part of Global Voices Online's contribution to Blog Action Day for Climate Change 2009.

As bloggers around the world geared up for October 15 to write about climate change and the environment, the Israeli blogosphere focused on a different date. This year, environmental organizations, activists, and perhaps bloggers as well, will mark October 24 as a day of climate change protest across the Middle East.

Events are being organized under the auspices of Friends of the Earth Middle East and 350.org. Activists in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria are all expected to participate. 350.org provides lists of regional protests, including one for Israel, while the Green Prophet blog supplies an additional list for all known Middle Eastern activity.

The name “350” sources from the idea that:

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

Our current count is 387.

Blog Action Day

A number of Israeli blogs have chosen to use Blog Action Day to bring the issue of climate change to the forefront, advocating for continued attention to the issue beyond the designated day.

JGooders promotes the Jewish Climate Change Campaign, urging readers to get involved with Jewish Social Action Month (JSAM), which begins on the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, starting October 19. JSAM, JGooders explains, will be commemorated by social action events in Jewish communities throughout the world.

While communities and environmental activists seek to raise awareness in the global community, what better way to get their ideas across than through images, videos in particular?

Alison Avigayil Ramer of Your Virtual Community Organizer posts “Top 10 Climate Change Videos for Change.org's Blog Action Day.” Among these is a video called “Flat,” by Israeli filmmaker Nitsana Bellehesen, which portrays the world in 2050. The video shows boys and their fathers visiting an exhibit dedicated to the female breast– which no longer exists due to the cancer induced by environmental and atmospheric toxins.

At one point, a boy points to a photograph in the gallery and says, “Look at that one. That baby is eating her breast.” The father responds, “Well, that's actually how babies used to be fed.”

While viewing of this powerful film is highly recommended, you should be warned that there is explicit nudity.

Ramer encountered the film, which was shown at the Breast Fest 2009: A Film Festival that Targets Breast Cancer, at the hub for social entrepreneurs where she works in Tel Aviv. She writes:

Web video can be an extremely effective way to raise consciousness about a sustainable business or cause. Video is a great interlude to all the text online and is relatively inexpensive to make, share and watch. The moving images and music can captivate an audience and convey thousands of words in just a few minutes. Especially today, now that we have numerous ways to share video on social networks and blogs, video has great potential to become viral and carry your business, non-profit organization or cause to thousands or even millions of viewers.

Note that while thinking about climate change can be disturbing, that feeling of discontent should lead to action, not apathy. At Judaism and the Environment in the Talmud, Carmi Wisemon, executive director of Sviva Israel, a prominent environmental organization, writes about the role of reflection in Jewish practice.

Israel and the Jewish world have just celebrated the holiday of Sukkot, in which they build huts where they eat meals with their families, spend quiet meditative time, and sometimes even sleep under the stars. Like Shabbat (the Sabbath), as well as many other Jewish holidays, Sukkot provides the opportunity to cease all action and think about our place in the universe.

Wisemon writes:

So this Sukkot [holiday], as we relax in our sukkot [huts], and admire the natural splendor of our lulavs and etrogs, think about the deeper meaning of the holiday. We can all do our bit to prevent climate change, and that includes a 2,000 year-old tradition of praying for rain to fall– neither too little nor too much– in Israel, but also in the Philippines, Indonesia and even Atlanta.

On my own blog, The New Jew, which focuses on philanthropy and social innovation, I published a post on “Caring About the Environment, Jewishly.” There I share a speech by environmental activists who urge us to think about how the practices of traditional Judaism connect us to the natural world.

Shabbat– is an ecological treasure! A day to rest from shopping, manufacturing, driving!

Kashrut (keeping Kosher)– the idea that what we eat matters, that it’s upon us to minimize suffering of animals! We need to update this to take responsibility for the full impacts of what we eat, the stuff we buy, and what we put into landfills. We vote with our dollars and with our forks for the full story of our food and our stuff.

Brachot (the blessings over our food)- invite mindfulness of where our food comes from. To bless food we have to figure out whether it grew from the ground or a tree; from there it’s a short step to thinking of how it was raised, whether the people involved in getting it to us were paid a fair wage, whether its story helped or hurt our environment.

In keeping with the natural theme, Elisha at O'Sprinkles profers beauty through photography and reminds us what our fight is really about: growth and renewal in the natural world.


As you finish up October 15th, urge yourself to use Blog Action Day as part of a continuum. How can you reduce your carbon footprint, improve the way you use natural resources, and reassess your consumption patterns?

The Jewish Climate Campaign leaves you with some suggestions.

10 comments

  • Thanks so much for sharing Nitsana and I’s work with your community. I love the Jewish tone of your work and the way you look at Shabbat! Shabbat really is one day a week that I unplug and boy, what a difference it makes ecologically and psychologically.

    I look forward to reading more of your work at global voices and on your home blog. Feel free to link!

    – Alison

    • Hi Alison,

      Looks like we need to form a mutual admiration society.

      I was really moved by Nitsana’s video. It was so powerful and something– although I couldn’t identify specifically what– seemed inherently Israeli about it. (I’ll have to keep reading Eshkol Nevo and Etgar Keret to say what that thing was. Do you have any insight?)

      The speech excerpted from The New Jew was written by Karin Fleisch, Vivian Lehrer, Anthony Rogers-Wright, and others for a presentation at this summer’s ROI 120 Summit for young Jewish innovators. Links and fuller info can be found on the original The New Jew entry.

      Look forward to connecting with you further. Tried to read you on SababiGirl, but the link wasn’t working for me.

      All the best and Shabbat Shalom. I’ll be reading.

      ~ Maya

  • MERC

    Yes, time to clean up the environment in Palestine. Time to remove the occupation boot print from its ravaged and degraded geography. There’s the colonies, official and unofficial, that litter the place. There’s the Wall which violates the integrity of the natural and human environment (not to mention international law). There’s those blots on the landscape called checkpoints. There’s the healing of the land after the olive trees have been burnt or uprooted. Yallah, let’s get started!

    • MERC,

      As usual your comment has no relevance to my post. I write about Israel, you knee jerk to post an anti-Israel comment.

      Climate change and the environment are critical topics for us to discuss as a global community. If Palestine and its people are so important to you, collect some relevant environmental links about Palestine and post them here. I would like to read them.

      ~ Maya

  • MERC

    That’s funny, the Israeli government and most Israelis seem to subscribe to the idea that there’s no Green Line – it’s all Eretz Israel from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. But even if you are one who still persists in the illusion that there’s an Israel and a mini Palestine, you still can’t not factor in Israel’s carbon footprint in the so-called Palestine bit, yes? And seeing you’ve asked, why not look into all that unsustainable water use in Israel’s West Bank colonies, not to mention the flow of waste water containing the colonizers’ wees and woos flowing downhill onto Palestinian land. Oh, yeah, and the environmental impact of Israel’s bombing of Lebanon’s oil refinery in 2006 on the eastern Med. coastline. Now we’re getting global. Then there’s the threatened use of Israeli nukes on Iran. Anyone with a global awareness would be screaming ‘No’ to that from the rooftops, wouldn’t they?

    • MERC,

      With the disbanding of the Israeli settlements in Gaza in 2005, your statement is simply inaccurate.

      With regard to the environmental impact of war, this statement of President Eisenhower resonates with me:

      “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.”

      ~ Maya

  • MERC

    Seeing I never mentioned Gaza, which “statement” of mine is “inaccurate”? (Not of course that Gaza isn’t as occupied by the Israeli Offence Forces as the rest of Palestine, what with Israel in complete control of its entry points, airspace and coastline.) Re Eisenhower, true, but, as a citizen of a country having the world’s 4th largest military carbon bootprint, how about dealing with the specifics I raised in my last post.

  • […] Note: For previous Global Voices posts, kindly see these links. – Reading the world on Blog Action Day – Israel: Blog Action Day for the Environment […]

  • Loved this post. For what it’s worth, I shared it on my Facebook (Fan) Page (OK, I’m still working on the Fan part!).
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maskil/143824138112

  • […] #11: Lebanon This week’s assignment was to go onto Global Voices Online and pick a country. I chose Lebanon, and read different […]

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