Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) are renowned for reaching across political borders to address environmental concerns that know no borders. For years, in spite of the political aura, Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians have worked together to monitor and protect the imperiled Jordan River, Jordan Valley, and Dead Sea. Without their tireless campaigns and distinctly apolitical cooperation, these shared resources would be in even greater dire straits.
In order to draw attention to these environmental concerns, FoEME arranged a bicycle tour with the Israel Bicycle Association to coincide with 350.org’s 10-10 Global Work Party event. But Jordanian “anti-normalisation” efforts have politicized the initiative, putting pressure on Jordan’s FoEME representatives to cancel it.
The ride was scheduled to be a 3-day event, starting in Jordan on 8/10, going on into Israel, and finishing in the Palestinian Territories at the Dead Sea on the day of the Global Work Party, 10/10.
However, skeptics see this event not as an environmental initiative but as an effort to infiltrate Jordanian society.
“This campaign is being organised while the Zionist enemy continues constructing settlements on Arab Palestinian lands, and coincides with the challenges that face our country’s security and stability,” said a statement released by the opposition-backed Move campaign, a copy of which was sent to The Jordan Times.
Badi Rafayah, president of the Professional Associations Council Anti-Normalisation Committee, believes that such events aim to “divert young people’s attention away from the Israeli threat to Jordan.”
He also claimed that it is impossible to cooperate with people who burn crops in the Jordan Valley, pump water from the Dead Sea (FoEME reports show that Israel pumps 46.47% of the water from the Dead Sea compared to Jordan’s 23.24%), and “chop down trees.”
FoEME’s Jordanian representative counters this argument by claiming that Israeli peace activists do not condone tree-cutting.
“The issue was totally environmental but it ended up being politicised,”he told the Jordan Times. He added that “around 40 Jordanians who are scheduled to take part in the tour will stop before the borders and not meet the Israelis because it is difficult to obtain visas.”
Elsewhere in the world, corrupt politicians and greedy industrial interests interfere with the climate change movement. In the Middle East, where we have a bit of that too, a long history of cultural and political suspicion threatens valuable efforts to avert a series of ecological crises.
:: Jordan Times
More Global Work Party News:
image via Futurilla