Can you be pro-Israel if you don’t care about the environment?
Some Israel supporters and Israelis would describe US President Donald Trump as “pro-Israel.” After all, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by agreeing to transfer the US embassy there from Tel Aviv; he withheld $65 million to the U.N. Relief and Welfare Agency (UNWRA), which has been accused of misusing humanitarian aid for Palestinian refugees; and he threatened to halt all American aid to Palestinians unless they begin negotiating peace in good faith.
But this Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish celebration of trees and ecology that falls on the last day of January in 2018, we should ponder an important point: a person can’t be considered “pro-Israel” if s/he isn’t pro-Earth, because Israel’s fortune as a country is inextricably intertwined with the future of our ailing planet.
And Trump, unfortunately, has shown over and over again that not only is environmental preservation not a priority for him, but that he doesn’t understand (and/or just doesn’t care about) the dire situation facing humanity. In Trump’s first year in office, he withdrew America from the Paris climate accord, nominated a leader of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who has worked to shrink the agency and limit its reach, and pushed for more fossil fuel drilling on land and at sea.
Trump also recently claimed that ice caps are “setting records,” when in fact a great deal of the world’s ice is melting.
Captain Mark Kelly, a retired U.S. Navy combat veteran and former NASA astronaut, summarized Trump’s effect on our ecosystem to CNN:
This year has been an unequivocal disaster for the future of the planet. President Donald Trump has managed to take a wrecking ball to years’ worth of hard work and painstaking negotiations. If not undone, our retreat from the Paris Climate Accords and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan alone mean our planet’s temperature will rise at a greater rate and our citizen’s health will degrade. Other changes in environmental regulations on drilling and auto and appliance efficiency will only make matters worse.
Our planet is in trouble. 2017 was the second hottest year on record and a major international city is soon expected to run out of water. Sound familiar? Ha’aretz recently published a worrisome article about Israel’s water shortage:
Even if 2018 proves sufficiently rainy to avoid the declaration of a fifth straight drought year, Israel will remain in crisis mode. Water levels will not return to what they were a decade ago when Lake Kinneret, Israel’s biggest water source, and underground aquifers were full, officials warned Sunday.
“The Kinneret will never go back to what it was, and in 20 years it won’t be there at all, it’ll be a swamp” said a figure close to the planning process who asked not to be named.
Religious Jews are tempted to console ourselves with the knowledge that G-d has the power to save us, but we are forbidden to rely on miracles, especially in a situation where we humans are knowingly doing so much damage.
One way we can begin helping ourselves, and this planet, is by being clear that Donald Trump (and every other politician and person) CANNOT truly be considered pro-Israel until he begins caring about the planet where Israeli resides and starts taking serious steps to slow environmental decline.