Resource-blogger Angelo Braam has returned to the Netherlands after an exchange in Jerusalem, on which he kept us updated from September. Now it is time to look back. ‘What are we waiting for Netherlands? Condemn Trump’s deal and take the first step towards real negotiations.’
© Sven Menschel
Missiles raining down, a full year in the absence of a functioning government and a deal of the century that has resulted in a resurgence of tension. This is just a taste of my experiences in Jerusalem last semester, supporting other news reaching Europe from Israel that there are no pleasant and sustainable initiatives. A month of volunteering for the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) puts me in a position to put forward a different sound.
When biologist Mazin Qumsiyeh (68) and his wife Jessie founded PIBS in 2014, he hoped to fulfil his childhood dream of supporting the Palestinian situation by mapping the existing flora and fauna, doing conservation work and, especially, raise awareness for nature and sustainability. Many thought him crazy, for what madman would travel a country where people lack basic necessities, to study snails, spiders and scorpions. He was ridiculed, but he appeared far from alone in his mission.
Six years later, his project has developed into a full-fledged research institute and museum of natural history with a wide variety of activities. Youth are invited to teach about sustainability (no, your trash is not removed by the wind), local farming communities are supported in advancing organic farming and scientists study the effect of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian nature. Such Wageningen topics, who would have expected to find this in Palestine?
Research shows that the construction of walls and settlements wreaks havoc on indigenous forests and that Israeli industry in the occupied areas is not obliged to conform to the stringent sustainability regulations Israel itself imposes. These and other findings prove: Israeli occupation is disastrous to flora and fauna.
There is still a long way to go in divulging the above conclusions. But this situation is not unique to Palestine. Mazín’s story reaches tens of thousands through a mailing list, and he visits universities and research institutes across the globe to tell his story. His public interest increasing and the fact that the institute channels young students’ passion for the environment, is one of the stories of hope in the Holy Land. And there are more such stories; however, most are well hidden.
The fact that terminating the Israeli occupation will not only result in the liberation of people, but also of flora and fauna, gives us, the international community, and incentive to denounce the occupation of Palestinian territories. What are we waiting for Netherlands? Condemn Trump’s deal and take the first step towards real negotiations. If humanity is not sufficient cause, let’s jump on the sustainability bandwagon.