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What’s Next for Jews Mobilizing to Stop Climate Change

We won a huge victory in New York State when fracking was banned in New York State in December, 2014.  Since then we have continued our efforts to mobilize the Jewish community to work for a world safe from climate change.

In July, 2016, we participated in the March for Clean Energy in Philadelphia.

Shortly after the March we affiliated with Jewish Climate Action Network.  Our NYC chapter meets monthly and is currently supporting two important campaigns:

First, the campaign against the Pilgrim Pipelines, which are proposed to bring North Dakota fracked oil from Albany, NY, to Linden, NJ.

And second, the campaign in support of bringing off-shore wind generation to New York.

JCAN NYC is also a member of the NYRenews Coalition fighting for good jobs and climate justice with 100% renewable energy for NYS.

Please join us!  Find us on facebook  or by contacting jewsforcleanenergy@gmail.com

 

Frack a Cookie!

JAH Rachel and Sarah at Shmita Art Fest August 2015

 

Lots of people stopped by our table at the Shmita Arts Fest on Governor’s Island.  They were attracted by the beautiful sign created by Rachel and Sarah that advertised, “Frack a Cookie!”  Our volunteers handed out toothpicks and challenged all comers to try to extract the chocolate chip cookies without destroying the cookie.  It was impossible…and it made our point.  Getting fossil fuels out of the ground is terribly destructive.  We need to stop fracking and switch to renewable energy as quickly as possible.  After destroying (and eating) a cookie, our visitors were invited to sign a petition for a ban on fracking on public lands.  We collected 65 signatures.  Our public lands are precious and irreplaceable.  Please sign the petition now.

May I Have Your Vote for Green Israel?

Vote Green Israel

Over the past few weeks I’ve learned that politics is a tough business. As a candidate for the Green Israel slate, running for the World Zionist Congress, I’ve gained a lot of respect for anyone willing to put themselves out there on the campaign trail.  My potential voters are asking a lot of hard questions.  Fortunately, I have the answers.  Here are the 5 questions I get most often.  I hope the answers are compelling enough to get you to click and vote for Green Israel.

What is the World Zionist Congress?  What can it possibly do?

The World Zionist Congress exists to give Jews in the diaspora a voice in Israeli affairs.  Before 1948, the World Zionist Congress was the prestate parliament of what would become Israel.  After Israel was established, most of its powers were taken over by the Knesset (Israel’s parliament).   Since all Jews have a stake in what happens in Israel, the WZC was retained to give diaspora Jews a voice.

The WZC retains considerable influence over several important institutions.  These include the Jewish Agency (which is involved in immigration,) and most important for our purpose, the Jewish National Fund.  The JNF, which most people know as the organization that plants trees in Israel, owns 13% of the land in Israel.

With so much control over land, the environmental policies of the JNF have tremendous influence in Israel.  The composition of the WZC determines the makeup of the board of the JNF.  Today, through the WZC, the Green Israel slate — supported by Aytzim and its projects, the Green Zionist Alliance, Jewcology, and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth — has named two of Israel’s leading environmentalists to the JNF board.   Alon Tal and Orr Karassin have pushed JNF to take the lead on a number of environmental issues, including taking stands for the protection of open space and against fracking.  The Green Israel slate must be reelected to continue to influence the JNF.

I’m not a Zionist, so why would I vote?

When I agreed to join the Green Israel slate, I anticipated that potential voters would assume that the WZC was an antiquated and irrelevant institution.  Somehow I didn’t realize how many Jews are uncomfortable with the terms Zionist and Zionism themselves.  My answer is simple.  Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish People.  It achieved its initial aim when Israel was established.  But no country is perfect.  Fortunately, there are ways we can help to make it better.  Voting in the WZC elections is one way.

I’m not so comfortable with the JNF either, so why should I support it? 

The JNF is a large, politicized, bureaucratic organization that is part of Israel’s establishment.  I don’t agree with everything that the JNF does.  That’s exactly why I’m on the Green Israel slate.  Because people voted for the Green Israel slate in past elections, there have been major improvements in how the JNF does business.  It has adopted significantly better policies on forestry, stream restoration, and soil reclamation.  JNF is taking the lead on green infrastructure such as bike lanes, solar energy, and wastewater reclamation.  Now JNF’s Sustainable Development Committee, chaired by Alon Tal, has established a program to prioritize quality of life improvements in Arab communities that have long been neglected by the JNF.  The JNF has power, and we can leverage that power by voting.

Why do I have to pay to vote?

The American Zionist Movement has contracted with an independent company to run the online election.  This is to insure that the election is fair.  The registration fee is being used exclusively to pay for the election.  It is not a donation to the WZO.  I wish there was no fee, but it is a small price to pay to make a real difference in the future of Israel.

In the last few weeks I have asked hundreds of people to vote for me.  In the last election, it only took 500 seats to get a seat at the WZC.  That means that every single vote matters.  Please vote right now at worldzionistcongress.org.

 

Fracking Isn’t Kosher!

Hat protest against fracking
Governor Cuomo is visiting Manhattan frequently these days to raise money for his re-election campaign.  On Monday we joined hundreds of people outside the Grand Hyatt on 42nd Street to let the Governor know that we are still opposed to fracking.  We spotted this protester with a Jewish message at the rally: Fracking isn’t kosher, it ruins our water!

The New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, delivered New Yorkers a big victory this week.  The court ruled that the  towns of Dryden and Middlefield can use local zoning laws to ban fracking within their municipal borders.  This decision provides a resounding victory to all towns that have already banned fracking. 170 municipalities in New Yorkhave banned fracking so far.

Latest News on Fracking

Latest News on Fracking

Gas industry lobbyists are using the Ukraine crisis to push Congress to speed permits for facilities to export natural gas.   This certainly won’t help Ukraine now, since the facilities are not yet built.  So the US is offering to help Ukraine with expertise on fracking.   

A recent report linked earthquakes in Ohio to fracking.  At a recent talk I heard a speaker say that “fracking does not cause earthquakes, those are caused by wastewater wells.”  That may be mostly accurate – but nowadays a lot of that wastewater is from fracking.  Read Fracking’s Latest Scandal?  Earthquake Swarms.

Mining for sand used in fracking is destroying sand bluffs in Iowa.  This fine-grained sand, spread during mining and during fracking operations, can cause silicosis and lead to lung cancer.  Thank you to Bruce Rosen for sending us this article.  

What You Can Do Now

We’re looking for Reform Jews to participate in the Social Action Training Day and Advocacy Seminar sponsored by the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC, on May 18-20.  If you are thinking of attending, please let us know.  We’d like to encourage the RAC to address fracking at this program.

Do you know any Jews who have been personally impacted by fracking?  A reporter is interested in speaking to them.  Please email mirele@markergoldsmith.com if you know of someone.

Rally at the New York State Democratic Convention on Thursday, May 22 from 10am-12noon,  Hilton Long Island/Huntington Hotel, Melville.  Buses from many locations in NYS.  For more information contact Eric Weltman, Food & Water Watch, eweltman@fwwatch.org

Comment on the New York State Energy Plan.  Tell Governor Cuomo you want a plan to ramp up renewable energy capacity, not entrench fossil fuels.  Read more in today’s New York Times.

Save the Date

The People’s Climate March will take place in New York City on September 20-21, 2014 during the UN General Assembly and Ban Ki Moon’s recently announced climate summit.