USACBI Statement and Announcement of Webinar on Climate Justice for Palestine

During this time of climate crisis, which is an existential threat to the entire biosphere of the planet, participation in the BDS campaign remains a necessary and urgent endeavor, one that supports both a free Palestine and the global movement for climate justice.

For Palestinians, environmental injustice is a key component of the ongoing Nakba. The list of Israel’s ecological violations and crimes is long and gruesome. It includes the systematic destruction of Palestine’s trees and fragile ecosystems, extensive toxic dumping, land grabbing, widespread flows of untreated sewage from West Bank settlements, outsourcing of dirty industries across the Green Line, uncontrolled pollution of air and surface water, and ethnic cleansing of populations from their ancient, sustainable habitats. All evidence suggests that Israel’s maintenance of political apartheid is everywhere reinforced by a pattern of practices best described as eco-apartheid.

The history of greenwashing these crimes originates in settler mythologies about “making the desert bloom.” This history continued with the Jewish National Fund programs of planting non-native forests to cover over the Nakba’s destroyed villages. Today it takes its toll on Palestinian Bedouins through the Israeli campaign to “green the Negev.”

Ecological debts accumulated from these injustices should rightly be added to the roster of reparations owed to Palestinians for losses from the Nakba onwards. In the context of the climate crisis, additional debts are due from Israel’s comprehensive denial and deliberate sabotaging of Palestinian access to solar and other renewable energy technologies.

The conditions of the Occupation have made it all but impossible for Palestinians to pursue the kinds of sustainable or resilient lifestyles and industrial practices required to respond to the climate crisis. Climate justice demands that beneficiaries of carbon-driven development, like Israel, address their unmet obligations to populations that were exploited and underdeveloped as a result. In addition to making reparations for the ongoing colonial record of harms, they should transfer sustainable technologies to these communities and fully fund their need to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Israel won’t take any of these steps without sustained external pressure. Campaigns for fossil fuel divestment can and should be combined with BDS campaigns for divestment in companies and institutions that profit from the illegal occupation of Palestine. The names are often the same, and the campaign goals are compatible.

USACBI urges the effort to coordinate these initiatives. In this time of climate crisis, BDS is not a separate or “side” issue. Israel’s practices of settler colonialism, occupation, and apartheid double as human rights violations, and as participation in the colonial and capitalist enterprises that are at the very center of our current climate emergency. In other words, to support a free Palestine is also to support climate justice.

To promote public education on these issues, USACBI will host a webinar on September 9, 2020 from 2-3 pm EST, 9-10 pm in Palestine. “BDS, Capitalism, Colonialism, and the Climate Crisis: Connecting the Dots” will feature Max Ajl (researcher at Wageningen University and author of A People’s Green Deal, forthcoming from Pluto Press), Mazin Qumsiyeh (Palestinian scientist, author, director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History), and Kalaniopua Young (Board member of KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance and the Ho‘opae Pono Peace Project, looking at ancestral knowledge resilience and contemporary grassroots organizing around climate change).

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