The battle of the "true believers": Environmentalism in Israeli party politics

Orr Karassin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


ENVIRONMENTALISM HAS BEEN a very latecomer to Israeli politics, and it is arguable whether it has arrived at all. While other Western nations were already experiencing heated environmental political debate in the 1970s (Dry-zek 1997, 203-6), not so in Israel: the terms "environmentalism" and "ecology" were relatively unknown to Israeli politicians at the time, nor were they cognizant of the grand ideas that stood behind them. In 1965, Israel's Minister of Finance and one of Israel's most influential politicians for two decades, Pinchas Sapir, conveyed the spirit of the times when he asked the then member of the Israeli Parliament Yosef Tamir, "what is that ecology shmecology you are constantly talking about?" (Eldar 2009; Greenpeter 2008). His rhetorical question not only reflected ignorance but also a disdain and alienation from environmental impulses. Sapir's sentiment was neither unique nor exceptional. It mirrored the predominant "development" ethos that had governed Zionist-Israeli society and politics since the 1930s (Tal 2002, 24; De-Shalit 1995).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBetween Ruin and Restoration
Subtitle of host publicationAn Environmental History of Israel
PublisherUniversity of Pittsburgh Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780822978114
ISBN (Print)9780822962229
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2013, University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved.

RAMBI publications

  • Environmental policy -- Israel
  • Environmentalism -- Political aspects -- Israel
  • Political parties -- Israel


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