Amir Hetsroni

The impossibility of rural life in Israel

One loser is obvious in these elections even before the ballots are counted – the environment. While nearly any Western country has a strong parliamentary representation of a Green Party that often acts as a political kingmaker, Israel’s Green Party never came close to crossing the threshold and obtaining parliamentary seats. In recent campaigns the Green Party fell short of even securing one-percent of the vote – a figure that would provide public funding that could sustain its existence. A sister party, Green-Leaf, whose portfolio mixes green ideas with drugs legalization causes, performs only slightly better and remains far as well from securing the minimal 3.25% of the votes that are needed to enter The Knesset.

Why are Israelis so adverse to environment politics? The answer is that they are not set against environment-friendly ideals per-se but remain reluctant to embrace environment-focused parties. Nearly any major party – from the ultra Orthodox Agudat-Yisrael to the extremely secular Meretz – tends to include words of support of environment preservation in the portfolio. Yet, this support is always marginal in its significance compared to the championing of economic development. In other words – Israeli Political parties from right and left prefer additional apartment blocks to more expansive national parks. This is not surprising given the fact that Israel’s population is increasing at the pace of a third world nation. The population here doubles every twenty to twenty-give years. Additional people need additional residential space. In Europe, in contrast, the population is decreasing and so countries there have find it easy to keep existing expand parks intact and even add to them.

The contradiction between overly-populated country with little open space and a sparsely inhabited land with vast open landscape is – to an extent – the dichotomy between higher standard of living and higher quality of life. The standard of living in Manhattan is by far higher than in Boulder Colorado, but if we had the possibility wouldn’t some of us prefer earn a bit less but reside in the serenity of Boulder?
At present Israel does not offer any viable opportunity to those who would prefer peaceful life and modest earning to blood-pressure raising lifestyle and higher paycheck. Israel has three metropolitan cores (Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem) and vast suburbs but no actual countryside. Any person who dreams of living in a farm or a forest or even a prairie far from the madding crowd needs to immigrate, if s/he wants to fulfill the dream. This fact is not about to change as a result of the current elections because we insist on maintaining large families in a small territory. Some people are OK with human density. They enjoy living Tel-Aviv just like they would enjoy residing in New-York City or Boston. However, folks like me who prefer Boulder Colorado or rural Texas remain frustrated in Israel.

About the Author
Amir Hetsroni was a faculty member at Ariel University in the West Bank. He is emigrating from Israel in order to miss the next war, earn higher wages, enjoy cooler summers, and obtain a living package that is cost-effective. He has three passports and does not feel particularly worried about anti-Semitism.
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