Between Ruin and Restoration

Between Ruin and Restoration: An Environmental History of Israel

Daniel E. Orenstein
Alon Tal
Char Miller
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 416
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wrd0b
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    Between Ruin and Restoration
    Book Description:

    The environmental history of Israel is as intriguing and complex as the nation itself. Situated on a mere 8,630 square miles, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf, varying from desert to forest, Israel's natural environment presents innumerable challenges to its growing population. The country's conflicted past and present, diverse religions, and multitude of cultural influences powerfully affect the way Israelis imagine, question, and shape their environment. Zionism, from the late nineteenth onward, has tempered nearly every aspect of human existence. Scarcities of usable land and water coupled with border conflicts and regional hostilities have steeled Israeli's survival instincts. As this volume demonstrates, these powerful dialectics continue to undergird environmental policy and practice in Israel today.Between Ruin and Restorationassembles leading experts in policy, history, and activism to address Israel's continuing environmental transformation from the biblical era to the present and beyond, with a particular focus on the past one hundred and fifty years. The chapters also reflect passionate public debates over meeting the needs of Israel's population and preserving its natural resources.The chapters detail the occupations of the Ottoman Empire and British colonialists in eighteenth and nineteenth century Palestine, as well as Fellaheen and pastoralist Bedouin tribes, and how they shaped much of the terrain that greeted early Zionist settlers. Following the rise of the Zionist movement, the rapid influx of immigrants and ensuing population growth put new demands on water supplies, pollution controls, sanitation, animal populations, rangelands and biodiversity, forestry, marine policy, and desertification. Additional chapters view environmental politics nationally and internationally, the environmental impact of Israel's military, and considerations for present and future sustainability.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7811-4
    Subjects: History, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    The December 2010 Mt. Carmel forest fire caught Israel off guard. The speed with which the flames moved, their ferocity and destructive force, was stunning: 44 people were killed and more than 17,000 had to be evacuated as the blaze swept into a nearby kibbutz and residential neighborhoods, destroying or damaging nearly 250 structures. The firestorm also damaged famed Hai-Bar Nature Preserve: some of its 600 hectares were among the 2,200 that were charred, constituting one-third of the forest cover along the Carmel range. The aftermath was stark, theJerusalem Postobserved: “Entire mountainsides that were once green are now...

  5. CHAPTER ONE THE ENVIRONMENT IN PALESTINE IN THE LATE OTTOMAN PERIOD, 1798–1918
    (pp. 1-28)
    Ruth Kark and Noam Levin

    This chapter considers stages in the process of environmental and spatial change in the landscape of Palestine in the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century and the determinants and catalysts. During this period, which began with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, Palestine, and the Levant, Palestine was transformed from a neglected backwater of the Ottoman Empire to a focal point of world attention. Consideration is given to changes in the natural landscape of forests, wetlands, and other habitats, resulting from spatial change, including changes in land use, that were a consequence of political and legal reforms as well...

  6. CHAPTER TWO THE ENVIRONMENTAL LEGACY OF THE FELLAHEEN AND THE BEDOUIN IN PALESTINE
    (pp. 29-52)
    No’am G. Seligman

    Human communities leave their imprint on the environment by erecting structures, changing topography, clearing forests or harvesting forest products, cultivating land, collecting desirable plants, hunting animals, and by the grazing of their domestic livestock. Over the past ten thousand years, agriculture has enabled the human population on our planet to grow but has also modified, damaged, or destroyed the ecosystems on which it is practiced. Even though the environment is at the receiving end of human actions, it is not a passive recipient of their impact. It is a dynamic system that interacts with the activities of people and with...

  7. CHAPTER THREE HUMAN IMPACT ON WILDLIFE IN ISRAEL SINCE THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    (pp. 53-81)
    Yoram Yom-Tov

    During the nineteenth century Palestine was a neglected part of the Ottoman Empire. Its human population had been decimated by wars and disease, and much of its area was deserted and uninhabited. Mark Twain visited the country during the mid-1880s, and was dismayed: “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. . . . The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode at anchor . . . was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR ZIONIST AND ISRAELI PERSPECTIVES ON POPULATION GROWTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT IN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL
    (pp. 82-105)
    Daniel E. Orenstein

    Demography has a profound impact on politics (Bookman 2002; Teitelbaum 2005). This is all the more so in a country like Israel: a political hotspot where population statistics are wielded as weapons to prop up one’s ideology, to justify a proposed policy or to support a historical theory. From scholarly debate on the biblical period to contemporary election campaign speeches, demography colors political discourse. It is imperative, then, to study population-environment (P-E) interactions in not only an ecological context, but in a sociohistorical context as well.

    Intuitively, Israel should be a good laboratory for studying the impact of population growth...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE COMBATING DESERTIFICATION: Evolving Perceptions and Strategies
    (pp. 106-128)
    Alon Tal

    When David Ben-Gurion stunned the nation in 1953 and moved to Sede Boqer, a newly formed, remote southern kibbutz, it was a radical statement from a radical leader reflecting the depth of his personal commitment to conquering the Negev desert. Ben-Gurion was obsessed with what he perceived to be the neglected state of Israel’s southlands—an area that included some 60 percent of the country’s area, but only a tiny fraction of its people. After leading his nation through a war of independence, it was as if he had decided to personally wage war against his country’s hot and desolate...

  10. CHAPTER SIX THE AGRICULTURAL ROOTS OF ISRAEL’S WATER CRISIS
    (pp. 129-146)
    Hillel Shuval

    Between 2006 and 2009 Israel faced one of the most severe droughts in the preceding eighty years. Rainfall was 15–20 percent less than the average, resulting in severe cutbacks in water allocations to agriculture, which for some farmers resulted in cuts of up to 40–50 percent or more to their annual allocations. There was a national wave of concern and anxiety about the implications of the water crisis, which was exacerbated by the media and to a great extent by the farmers and the agricultural lobby. Aside from the lower amounts of precipitation, however, the water crisis is...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN OPEN SPACE IN AN URBAN SOCIETY
    (pp. 146-167)
    Iris Han

    Land resources and open space in Israel are of greatest importance: these resources are finite and hardly can be reproduced. As one of the most densely populated and most rapidly growing countries in the developed world—scarcity of open space in Israel is much more severe than in other countries around the globe, and the effort to protect them is much more challenging (Kaplan and Dayan 1996; Tal 2008).

    Despite its small area, only 22,000 square kilometers, Israel is blessed with a variety of landscapes, unique natural assets, a rich diversity of species, historic and cultural landscapes, and sacred sites...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT THE BATTLE OF THE “TRUE BELIEVERS”: Environmentalism in Israeli Party Politics
    (pp. 168-189)
    Orr Karassin

    Environmentalism has been a very latecomer to Israeli politics, and it is arguable whether it has arrived at all. While other Western nations were already experiencing heated environmental political debate in the 1970s (Dryzek 1997, 203–6), not so in Israel: the terms “environmentalism” and “ecology” were relatively unknown to Israeli politicians at the time, nor were they cognizant of the grand ideas that stood behind them. In 1965, Israel’s Minister of Finance and one of Israel’s most influential politicians for two decades, Pinchas Sapir, conveyed the spirit of the times when he asked the then member of the Israeli...

  13. CHAPTER NINE ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES FACING ARAB SOCIETY IN ISRAEL
    (pp. 190-208)
    Hussein Tarabeih

    Arab society in israel is exposed to a unique array of environmental challenges that are due to the sector’s political and economic status as minorities in the state. Before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Arabs owned approximately 95 percent of the private land in Palestine (excluding what is now the Occupied Palestinian Territory or the West Bank and Gaza) (Khalidi 1992). Today, Arab society in Israel constitutes approximately 18 percent of the total population (2008 Report of the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics), but it owns less than 4 percent of the total land area.¹ As...

  14. CHAPTER TEN A PROLONGED RECESSIONAL: The Continuing Influence of British Rule on Israeli Environmental Law
    (pp. 209-228)
    David Schorr

    Israel’s environmental law, despite its lack of salience in public consciousness (as well as in that of the professional lawyer class), has a long and rich history. It has dealt, with varying measures of success, with the full spectrum of environmental issues. These range from traditional ones, like water pollution and nature conservation, to relatively new issues, such as depletion of the ozone layer and cellular-phone radiation.

    This chapter’s aim is not to present a full account of environmental law’s development in Israel; Professor Tal’s book has already done so with masterful depth as well as breadth (Tal 2002). Nor...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN MARINE-POLLUTION ABATEMENT ON ISRAEL’S MEDITERRANEAN COAST: A Story of Policy Success
    (pp. 229-241)
    Dorit Kerret

    In 2009 Israeli Mediterranean beaches were closed for 109 days due to severe marine pollution (Zalul 2009). This would come as a harsh blow to the scores of Israelis who love their beach. In such a small, crowded, cement-based country, the coast offers the ultimate escape from the hectic lives most Israelis live. In any weather, rain or shine, on weekdays and even at night there are always people at the beach and in the water. This special affection for the coastal environment tends to make Israelis unforgiving when it comes to polluting their primary and beloved natural resource, and...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE OLIVE GREEN: Environment, Militarism, and the Israel Defense Forces
    (pp. 242-261)
    Uri Gordon

    Militaristic societies are ones in which the armed forces enjoy a privileged material and cultural status, and where military priorities and frames of thinking play a key role in policy making and political culture (Vagts 1981; Newnham 1998). Militarism is not limited to direct governance by uniformed personnel (“praetorianism”), but may instead coexist with substantive democratic institutions (Ben-Eliezer 1997). Thus, contemporary societies described as militaristic are as politically diverse as Switzerland and Burma, North and South Korea, Jordan and Israel.

    This chapter explores the interface between environmental and military issues in Israel, placing it within the context of the changing...

  17. CHAPTER THIRTEEN “GOING BEYOND ISRAEL”: Epistemic Communities, Global Interests, and International Environmental Agreements
    (pp. 262-284)
    Rachelle Adam

    The international community, recognizing the need for multistate cooperation to stop global environmental devastation, has adopted multilateral agreements as frameworks for action. Israel is among those joining these agreements, but to what end? Given the degree to which the Arab-Israeli conflict has historically shaped its identity, can Israel rebrand itself through a global environmental role? Can its strategic participation in several environmental agreements overcome political obstacles? Will its environmental diplomacy, in short, create a new identity for Israel?

    Israel’s small territorial dimensions—22,072 square kilometers—allegedly attest to the limits of its physical impact on the global environment (Statistical Abstract...

  18. CHAPTER FOURTEEN TOWARD SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Mainstreaming Environment in Israel
    (pp. 285-308)
    Valerie Brachya

    The state of a country’s environment is not determined by its environmentalists but by its developers. Of this, Israel is an extreme case: its rapid rate of population growth and economic development has been the crucial driving force determining the level of protection its environmental resources have received. The essential issue has been and remains “to what extent can environmental considerations be effectively integrated into the decision-making processes which governed the location of housing, the alignment of roads, the generation of electricity and the type of industry?” “Mainstreaming” the environment into investment and development activities was a key element in...

  19. CHAPTER FIFTEEN ANTHROPOGENIC CLIMATE CHANGE IN ISRAEL
    (pp. 309-333)
    Lucy Michaels and Pinhas Alpert

    Climate and archaeological records from the last ten thousand years show that there has always been significant climate variability in the East Mediterranean (Issar and Zohar 2004). As we enter the twenty-first century, however, Israel’s climate is entering a new period of uncertainty. Over the last forty years, the unexpected ways in which humans influence the climate have become increasingly evident. This chapter surveys how researchers have come to understand Israel’s climate, with a focus on the significant science and policy challenge posed by global warming.

    While we now have a fairly clear picture of the likely effects of global...

  20. CHAPTER SIXTEEN NATURE KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES? Notes Toward a Future History of Regional Environmentalism
    (pp. 334-356)
    Stuart Schoenfeld

    Work toward arab-israeli peace in the 1990s involved activities at dual levels. While there were formal negotiations, there was also work to build popular support for peace through projects that would show the benefits of cooperative rather than hostile relations. Formal negotiations led to agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), and to the Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan. Work to build cooperative projects with mutual benefits took a variety of forms, including building links between civil society groups and creating new settings to bring Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and others together. Environmental issues—water, energy, pollution, biodiversity, and...

  21. CHAPTER SEVENTEEN THE FUTURE OF THE ISRAELI ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT: Is a Major Paradigm Shift Under Way?
    (pp. 357-382)
    Daniel E. Orenstein and Emily Silverman

    The goals and methods of the environmental organizations in Israel have changed profoundly over the sixty years since the founding of the state. Israeli scholars have pointed to a broad paradigm shift from an early romantic, nature-centered approach to a more pragmatic, public-health emphasis, relying on tools of science, law, and land-use planning (de-Shalit 1995; Tal 2002; Schwartz 2009). At a global scale, paradigm shifts within the environmental movement have also been suggested, representing periods of extreme change with regard to priority environmental issues and policy prescriptions (Carter 2007). Citing the continuing global environmental crisis, some advocate for a new...

  22. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 383-384)
    Daniel E. Orenstein, Alon Tal and Char Miller

    Two contrasting symbols are offered in the title of this edited volume, which was conceived only after we finished reading all of the chapters: ruin and restoration. Taken as a whole, the book indeed displays a somewhat split personality, with several chapters painting a rather optimistic picture of Israel’s environmental state and others describing quite the opposite. Note, for example, the development of an environmental bureaucracy that has continued to evolve and improve in its ability to implement effective environmental management and policy, details of which emerge in Tal’s chapter on desertification, in Brachya’s on government planning, and Kerret’s on...

  23. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 385-388)
  24. INDEX
    (pp. 389-400)