Guest essay by Eric Worrall
[UPDATE: Edited from Penn State to University of Pennsylvania 8:43 am Pacific Time ~ ctm]
h/t Nick – If there was one Israeli initiative you would think radical greens would support, that would be Israeli efforts to restore ancient forests and improve national CO2 sequestration with a massive tree planting programme.
But no – according to
Penn State University of Pennsylvania Student organisation “Fossil Free Penn”, the tree planting initiative is environmental racism.
Penn Students Hold Presentation on Environmental Racism
The student group Fossil Free Penn held a discussion on environmental racism as part of its weeklong engagement project called “Divestfest” Wednesday afternoon.
In discussing environmental racism, the speakers highlighted the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Jewish National Fund, an organization that plants trees in Israel, was a major subject of discussion. After asserting that the organization acted unjustly by purchasing land from Palestinians in the early 1900s in deals from which the Palestinians did not profit, the presenters looked into the symbolism of “making the desert bloom,” a phrase the students argued connected the forest environment to whiteness, evoked the notion of “a vacuum that the European savior can come nourish,” and ultimately incentivized “artificially making these areas look more like Europe.”
The students found a particular problem in the planting of pine trees in Israel and the West Bank, drawing a “connection between pine trees, forestation, and the way they further the colonialist agenda through capitalistic (sic) means of timber production.”
While pine trees are an invasive species and can be bad for certain environments, the solution is not merely to plant native trees like the olive tree.
“If we are talking about environmental justice, we have to consider intersectionality,” one of the presenters said. “We have to consider the way that different environmental agendas are being used in order to romanticize and support things that may be in violation of human rights and ancestry rights.” Additionally, the students urged the audience to “look for the complexity in the way that issues are whitewashed.”
Penn State University of Pennsylvania , the place where your kids can learn from greens that planting trees is wrong, unless they are planted by people with a politically acceptable pedigree.