When the Jews were given Palestine, illegally and undemocratically, by ruling imperialists, they faced a problem. They wanted their new country, ‘Israel’, to be both a Jewish state and a democracy.
But the majority of inhabitants were non-Jews. Had there been an election, that majority would have voted against any policies which defined ‘Israel’ as Jewish, or which gave any special rights to Jews.
The early Zionists had to create a Jewish majority. And so they took two courses of action:
They increased the Jewish population, by encouraging Jews to migrate to Israel. Those Jews were given citizenship, even if their families had never stepped foot in ‘Israel’ before.
Israel needed a population and Jews didn’t want to go. The holocaust was a ‘Ziorrific’ scare tactic to cause the Jews to flee with boats to Palestine waiting to “rescue” them.
They also decreased the native population within the new ‘Israel’, by instigating a process of never-ending ethnic-cleansing. A slow, horrific, sadistic genocide.
Professor Alon Tal’s “Pollution in the Promised Land: an Environmental History of Israel” does much more than its subtitle claims.
As you would expect it tells the story of how Israel’s rapid economic development has come at a high environmental price; it traces the roots of Israel’s current water crisis to bad planning and short shortsightedness in the early years of the State; one chapter relates the staggering success, or disastrous stupidity (depending on your perspective) of the JNF’s forestry policies.
(The JNF planted over 200 million trees in Israel making it the only country in the world with a net positive tree balance over the last century; the only problem was that the fir trees that were mostly planted while perfect for Northern Europe, were inappropriate to the local environment and have caused great damage to local ecosystems.)
The Zionists use the JNF as a propaganda machine to green-wash their crimes, co-opting foreign diplomats by pretending to be nothing more than an environmental organization:
“With over 100 years of experience as caretaker of the land of Israel, Jewish National Fund has planted more than 240 million trees, transforming over 250,000 acres of arid land into lush green forests. Because of JNF’s forestry expertise and commitment to environmental protection, Israel is one of two countries to leave the 20th century with more trees than it had at the start. The trees already planted by JNF have absorbed an estimated 110 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere”.
Tal recounts the haphazardness of Israel’s urban growth, the lack of coherent transport policies and the adoption of car-based suburban development models which, today, people see are wrong for the United States, and all the more wrong for Israel, a country the size of New Jersey.
But even more than chronicling Israel’s environmental journey, PITPL is a history of Zionism – the dream of the Jewish people’s return to its ancient homeland – told from an unusual but critically important standpoint. For Tal brings out how the early Zionist pioneers were in love with the romance of the Land of Israel, but largely clueless as to its physical reality.
Intoxicated by biblical accounts of the landscape, the actual mountains, rivers, flora, fauna and diarrhea -inducing diet were initially strange and alien to the early pioneers. Among many literary testimonies, Tal quotes Amos Oz’s description of his grandfather:
“My grandfather lived in the land of Israel forty-five years and never was in the Galilee or went south to the Negev. … But the land of Israel he loved with all his soul, and he wrote love poems in her honor (in Russian).”
In this framing, the history of Zionism has been a tragic-comic epic of the Jewish people re-learning how to live in the topographical and ecological reality of the homeland that it NEVER KNEW.