We know that it’s big in Scandinavia but it’s pretty boring there too. Lots of blondes, cold all year round and ABBA broke up a long time ago. In Israel there are different problems. Moddy Bar-On once said: “In Israel protecting the environment is not the problem, it’s not having enough environment to begin with.” We have Arabs, new immigrants and settlers.We have terror, the Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War and so who cares if the declining decline is becoming extinct. Let them put it in the Museum of Nature and we’ll bring the kids to see it. Or not.
Maybe that is the reason that I expected to be totally bored when President Shimon Peres invited me to take part in a discussion on the environment. On the other hand, you don’t say ‘no’ to the president. (I know, there is at least one Katzav joke in there but let’s leave it alone for now.)
On a particularly hot Thursday I went to Jerusalem. I sat in the president’s office together with Gil Schweid of Checkpoint, Shai Agassi formerly of SAP, Chemi Peres, Nir Barkat and a few other really smart people that usually dodge these kinds of meetings. Peres opened the discussion. He said the right things (global warming, new world trends, a lot of economics), and then unexpectedly he fell silent. That was always his trick, he invites quality people to join him, rocks the boat a bit and then sits back and waits to see what happens.
Limor Aluf spoke first. She’s a journalist and environmental activist. She launched into a lengthy monologue about pollutants in the ground. Limor is a brilliant and committed woman so it’s hard to admit that I got kind of lost. I am just like you – if there are pollutants in the ground, I’ll wear shoes. Environmental activists are certainly right regarding the dangers, but after this last summer global warming has taken up residence in my brain, I have no patience for all the details. Afterwards we tried to figure out how to work as a group. The answer was no one had a clue, but President Peres did not give up on us so easily demanding that each one take on a task. Naturally everyone assumed that I would take on how to use the media to sell environment protection to the Israeli public.
Initially I planned to sell myself an immediate holiday. Why should I bother the Israeli public with something that even I think is boring? Then I thought about it a little more and a little more and after two weeks I had an answer. I am a little reluctant here because honestly it’s not politically correct. The only way to sell environmental protection to the Israeli public is to explain the one advantage:
It’s a way of screwing the Arabs.
I want to make it clear I am not including in this, God forbid, those peace-loving Arabs who believe in coexistence with the State of Israel. I am talking about the other billion and a half or so for whom the whole issue of environmental protection was created in order to screw them. The only reason this has not been presented to you before is that most of the people who deal with Green activism are well meaning lefties and people who wear round glasses who have no desire to screw anyone. They prefer a quiet clean world where everyone wears white and listens to folk music. That’s very nice but it will never work in Israel. We’re not programmed that way. If we can’t screw someone then we are not interested.
But it is possible because in the larger context, environmental protection includes a subject no less important called "alternative sources of energy". Green activists will be happy to explain the details to you, but the bottom line is that burning oil releases soot and heat, contributes to the melting of the icebergs in Antarctica and sends pollution into the atmosphere of this wonderful planet of ours.
Crap, I fell asleep again.
For example, I would create a much more original environmental start up. I would carve up the Antarctica into shot-glass size ice cubes. The real reason we need to find alternative sources of energy is not the troubled environment but the fact that it's Arabs who sell most of the oil to the rest of the world. The sad outcome of this is that they have lot of money and we know where this money goes: To Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbullah, to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as well as to the funding of terror worldwide much of which is directed at us.
It’s aggravating to think that every time we get into the car we are giving money to Hamas, and that is something we Israelis needs to seriously think about. Sixty percent of the country’s oil consumption goes to our vehicles. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were the first to use cars which don’t run on petrol. (The technology exists. It just keeps getting stonewalled by the big oil and automotive interests.) We have everything going for us: We’re smart, technologically savvy and when money is involved we’re pretty industrious. Besides, we are small enough for trials that could be carried out by the entire population and we are big enough to export the technology to the entire world. The Jewish intellect has changed the world in the past and there is no reason it can’t do it again in the future.
It is true by the way that this has been tried before but the lobby of oil-producing countries has made sure to block those efforts. One guess who those countries are? And one guess which country is the only one in the world that not only doesn’t pay any attention to them but also subjects them to strip searches at the airport?
For a long time Israel has been searching for an objective. We’ve become a country without an agenda and that makes us weak and fragmented, floundering. We are forced into a situation where the Arabs dictate how we conduct war. Zionism and the establishment of the Jewish state were at the time ideas that excited the whole world. Today the only thing they know about us is that we’re the guys who slap around suffering grandmothers waiting at the army checkpoints. It is time we did something original, something big that we can all commit to and will make us proud.
If Finland – a country much smaller than us – was able to correctly identify the fact that cell phones would conquer the world, establishing Nokia company and becoming one of the richest economies in Europe, there is no reason we can’t invest our collective will in alternative energy. It will make us richer, cleaner and more committed. Besides it’s always fun to screw the Arabs.