From Rosh Machaneh to Chaver Knesset?

Alon Tal, the father of Israel's environmental movement and an alumnus of Camp Judaea, Tel Yehudah and Year Course, is a founder of the new Israel Green Movement which will be running in the next Israeli Knesset Elections. The founder of Teva V’din–Israel Union for Environmental Defense and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura, was also the Rosh Machaneh at TY (the first summer that current director, David Weinstein, was a merakez at TY.)   According to

“Three years ago, we reached the glass ceiling in terms of environmental progress,”  Tal said recently during a wide-ranging interview at a downtown San Francisco café. “All the environmental indicators are negative — the conservation of land, climate change, greenhouse gas. We have a minister of the environment [Gilad Erdan] who is intelligent and progressive and hardworking, and we’re still losing, because he doesn’t have a party behind him.”

So even though Tal might be more at home in academia, he’s thrown his hat into the political ring. He predicts that in the next Knesset, his party will win three seats, one of which he would occupy. Never mind that in the last national elections in 2009, the movement couldn’t muster enough votes to pass the threshold for even one seat.

Things are different, he says, since last summer’s tent protests galvanized a new generation of Israelis fed up with the country’s high cost of living and ever-increasing social ills.

“I think this kind of party could capture” people’s imaginations, he says with confidence. “I’ve seen the disenchantment. A shocking percentage of young Israelis don’t vote. But I think once we’re in the Knesset, they’ll see what we can do.”

The party’s agenda is as tied to social reform as it is to environmental protection and preservation. Affordable housing, better jobs, public education, an end to hunger (“A country with this high a level of food insecurity is not a Jewish country”) — they’re all on the table.

“The hyperprivatization has to be reined in,” Tal says.

But “this is not a socialist agenda,” he emphasizes. “These are traditional Zionist values.” He also insists that Israel’s green party is a Zionist party. That’s something he made sure of at its founding three years ago. For example, the movement supports Shabbat closures — not public transportation or cultural events, but enough to demonstrate that a Jewish state has a Jewish day of rest. “That’s part of embracing the nonconsumerist heritage of the Jewish people,” he explains.   Read the full article here.

Alon once said of Tel Yehudah, "...the simple harmony of camp life with the lovely and gentle environment of the Deleware Rover and the apple trees in the New York mountains surely constituted an ideal that continues to resonate - and set a standard for harmony that we need to reestablish between the Jewish people and their homeland."  We are proud that Tel Yehudah has been inspiration in Alon's environmental work.

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