Carmit Lubanov

Passover 2023 – What has changed this night of all other nights?

Tonight, millions of the Jewish people, in Israel and in the Diaspora, have gathered  around the festive holiday table and asked the question “What has changed this night of all other nights”, reading of the Passover Haggadah that has been shaped over the generations.

In Israel, it seems that this year, the answer to the question “What has changed?” is an easy task. A lot has changed. In a very short time, civil society has become a leading and influential political force, extra-parliamentary, with the hundreds of thousands of citizens who take to the streets every Saturday night, for 13 consecutive weeks, a gathering in Tel Aviv and in many locations throughout the country, especially many young people, who have decided to do all in their power, In the way of civil peaceful protest, go out and call the cry of “No to dictatorship”, “Yes to democracy”.

It seems that only a particularly alert minister of history could have arranged for the awakening of the spirit of the people to take place at a timing that precedes the two dates in the Israeli calendar associated with the founding of Israel, the historical and the new one. The Passover holiday, also known as the holiday of freedom, marking the fact that the people of Israel came out of slavery to freedom in the land of Goshen (biblical Egypt), about 3500 years ago, and the Independence Day of the new Israel. There are many who compare the current preparation of the protest by the reservists, and the graduates of the various military units, as being ready for the second war of independence, 75 years after the first that led to founding the state of new Israel.

Even if it is still too early to predict how this stage in the history of the state of Israel will end, I am among those who believe that the protest will tip the balance in favor of a Jewish and democratic Israel, renewed, without messianic or far right extremists, which eventually will be forced to choose to deal with the questions of occupation and the separation from the territories, for political materializing the two-state solution.

But the traditional “four questions” that are being asked each year at the Passover Seder, in view of the historical processes that are occurring here and now, enable us to address additional questions, of national priorities, and to draw attention to the fact that regional cooperation on environmental, climate and energy issues can produce a “climate of hope” “If not a “climate of peace”. ‘Climate justice’, a project I initiated with colleagues part of the Environmental Justice Association about a decade and a half ago, as one of the first research groups in the world, aimed to evaluate, empirically, the climate inequality – is not only the question of the responsibility of the polluter in state level, or the effect of consumption on GHG emissions, by each of us, But it also requires looking towards the weakened places, which are far away geographically from us, but are influenced by our regions and dynamically influence on Middle east, the Mediterranean and Europe.

Areas that have already been hit by the effects of climate change on the African continent, especially in the Sahel region and Lake Chad, and the issue of refugees, herders and poor farmers who made their living from agriculture, who are forced to migrate due to crisis loss of livelihood and food security, just as the Israelites came down to Egypt, following the severe drought in Canaan land, and became shepherds, before they became slaves, on the outskirts of the Egyptian desert.

In era of climate change, the tradition of “4 questions” in Passover 2023, should addressing the following issues:

  1.  What can be learned from history and contemporary processes that meet at the political crossroads?
  2.  How can be achieved sustainable solution in our region, when concerning climate change?
  3. What role has the climate crisis when considering the migration crisis?
  4. How one of the world civilization oldest moral orders, should be applied widely today?

About 5 years ago, together with colleagues from Africa and South Europe, who were working in the Lake of Chad region that devastatingly has been impacted by climate change, we initiated a long process aimed to raise the subject of climate-migration, on regional context of Euro-Med. We thought there is no better time to bring the issue of climate migration to be officially part of global Migration accord, signed at the end of 2018.   Unlike my colleagues, as an Israeli and as advocate for climate justice, I was motivated also by the disappointment by the Israel government decision not sign on this historical accord of global compact.  In the global arena, unfortunately, our group was failed to convince the heads of the Global Compact of the importance of raising the climate migration to be integral part of the official agreement, but the story of climate migration already began to be shaped, politically.

Spring of 2023 is already witnesses in changing in the discourse. In the past year, together with my colleague, Dr. Mark Causon we established a new Center in the heart of Europe, Belgium,  “Tahadhari Center for Climate and Migration in the Euro-Med”. ‘Tahadhari’ means “Alert” in the Swahili language, the most spoken language in the Sahara region, is aimed to put attention (and resources) to the 2 mega crisis – of Climate change and of climate migration, as the history repeated itself in the South Mediterranean region and Africa.

The UNFCCC recent reports warn on the irreversibility of the Climate warming. The number of forced displaced persons today is double in a decade, reach more than 40 million. The efforts should be devoted to solutions.  ‘Sustainable Solutions, for all sides’.

When considering such ‘sustainable solution’, ‘Climate’ here is not only in the ‘active role’ of inducing migration – but also, should play major role to drive solutions to the forced migration crisis – with understanding that solution for migration should be within the framework of European climate adaptation strategies for the long term, in broad geo-political perspective including Europe-Mediterranean- Middle East and The Saharan Africa.

And as the days of Passover commend us to remember, and tell the story of the exodus from Egypt of the people of Israel, it is worth to think on the biblical order, which turned to be throughout the generations a universal message to governments, in our region and around the world, especially when a mass migration happening in LIVE, in recent years. Leviticus 19:33-34: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”.  Today more than ever.

About the Author
Co-Founder of Tahadhari Center for Climate and Migration in Euro-Med (TCCMEM, 2022) focusing on regional perspective of global processes. Founder and been executive director of Association of Environmental Justice in Israel (AEJI). Carmit has expertise on climate governance, climate and environmental justice , as well as long engaged on economically oriented field projects among weak links of the society, including cross-border Israel-Palestine. Among focuses of her work are policy advocacy, mobilizing processes for long term change in multi-threat space, politicaly, socially and economically.