Green Zionist Alliance
|Status||501(c)(3) nonprofit NGO|
|Main Office||New York City|
|Slogan||The Grassroots Campaign for a Sustainable Israel|
|Fields||Sustainability, Nature, Conservation, Water, Energy, Biodiversity, Ecology, Climate Change, Judaism and Israel|
|Methods||Education, Advocacy and Public-Policy Formation|
|Website||Green Zionist Alliance|
The Green Zionist Alliance (GZA) is a New York-based secular and pluralistic Jewish environmental organization that is a U.S.-registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity. A grassroots all-volunteer organization, the Green Zionist Alliance is active throughout the United States, Canada and Israel. The GZA is a member of the American Zionist Movement, and has worked in partnership with Mercaz/Masorti (the Conservative Movement), Ameinu, Hazon, the Jewish National Fund, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) and more.
The organization has the following mission:
The Green Zionist Alliance, a North America-based 501(c)3 nonprofit, offers a place for all people — regardless of political or religious affiliation — who care about humanity's responsibility to preserve the Earth and the special responsibility of the Jewish people to preserve the ecology of Israel. We work to educate and mobilize people around the world for Israel's environment; to protect Israel's environment and support its environmental movement; to improve environmental practices within the World Zionist Organization and its constituent agencies; and to inspire people to work for positive change. By focusing on the environment while working from a pluralistic and multicultural base, the Green Zionist Alliance seeks to bridge the differences between and within religions and people — helping to build a peaceful and sustainable future for Israel and the Middle East.
The Green Zionist Alliance was founded in 2001 by Dr. Alon Tal, Dr. Eilon Schwartz and Rabbi Michael Cohen, along with a large team of other volunteers, including Adam Werbach, Dr. Devra Davis and current GZA leadership. In 2002 it became the first environmental party at the World Zionist Congress, where it has had elected representation since. Through this process, the organization succeeded in the appointment of environmental leaders, including Tal and Schwartz, to the board of the Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael (KKL / Jewish National Fund in Israel). Today the GZA representation includes Tal and Dr. Orr Karassin.
In 2006 the GZA incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
The Green Zionist Alliance has had many prominent Jewish leaders serve on its slate for the World Zionist Congress, including Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Dr. Susannah Heschel, Nigel Savage and Dr. Richard Schwartz.
The GZA advisory board includes Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur and Dr. Daniel Orenstein, a faculty member at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.
Since its founding, the Green Zionist Alliance has been a key factor in the greening of Israeli policy, both internally and in its interactions with other countries. The GZA's accomplishments include:
- Quadrupling funding for afforestation;
- Building new bicycle lanes in Israel;
- Developing an environmental program for villagers in Rwanda;
- Saving the unique ecosystem of the Samar sand dunes in the Arava Valley from destruction;
- A successful effort to increase the public share of profits from Israel's offshore natural-gas fields;
- The installation of rooftop energy-generating solar panels and indoor energy-efficient lighting;
- The planned transition of vehicles in the fleets of quasi-governmental organizations, such as Jewish National Fund, to high fuel-efficiency and alternative-fuel models;
- The inclusion of environmental education for new immigrants to Israel;
- The development of community gardens at immigrant-housing centers;
- Increased support for in-country carbon-mitigating projects;
- Increased support for local organic agriculture.
Activist and Educational Campaigns
The Green Zionist Alliance is actively engaged in several campaigns to both protect and educate about Israel's environment, including:
- An effort to stop hydrofracking of oil shale in Israel's Elah Valley;
- An effort to prevent further demolition of the Bedouin village of Al Arakib in Israel's Negev region;
- Publication of the Jewish Energy Guide, a 50-article resource on energy issues from a Jewish perspective produced in partnership with the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life;
- Development of an Ethic of the Seas in partnership with the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care;
- Support for a cross-country Jewish environmental-education campaign;
- An effort to support Israel's forests in the wake of the worst forest fire in the country's history;
- An effort to improve the Farm Bill from an environmental and social-justice perspective;
- An effort to develop an interconnected network of individuals, organizations and communities working to create a healthier and more sustainable world rooted in the values of the Shmita cycle;
- Partnering with 160 other groups, including primary organizers the Sierra Club, 350.org and the Hip Hop Caucus, on the "Forward on Climate" initiative;
- Partnering with musician Natalie Merchant, actor Mark Ruffalo and more than 200 other groups — including MoveOn, Friends of the Earth and the Indigenous Environmental Network — in the Food & Water Watch-organized New Yorkers Against Fracking coalition;
- Partnering with 14 other Jewish organizations — including Hazon, COEJL and the Religious Action Center — in founding the Green Hevra, a network of Jewish-environmental organizations;
- Endorsing a Jewish community-wide transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy;
- And an effort to green the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
The Green Zionist Alliance runs programs including:
- GZA Bikkurim Volunteers, a program that places volunteers with environmental organizations in Israel for free;
- An internship program;
- A job board;
- The Green Israel Summit (GIS), an environmental Shabbaton for young leaders;
- GZA Community Partners, a program for congregations, JCCs and other community organizations wishing to connect with and show support for Israel's environment;
- An events calendar that lists events of interest to Jews around the world;
- An English-language compilation of educational materials, research papers, academic papers, news articles, videos and books about Israel's environment;
- And student chapters, including "Yovel: The Green Zionist Alliance at NYU."
The GZA has been criticized for its stance against hydrofracking, with the New York Post labeling the GZA as "running against the tide of technology." The organization also has been criticized for its participation in a process that largely favors Israel's political status quo. Politically centrist individuals have criticized the GZA for its promotion of community gardens, charging that making community gardens more widely available is patronizing to the public. Others see Zionism's mission as finished with the establishment of the modern state of Israel and they question the relevance of the entire system of legacy Zionist organizations formed by the World Zionist Organization and its constituent agencies.
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- Jerusalem Post: How many Zionists does it take to change a light bulb?
- Jerusalem Post: WZO to boost environmental practices
- The Jewish Daily Forward: Enter the Green Zionists
- J. Weekly: Eco-Israel retreat reaches out to 'green' Jews
- Tikkun Magazine: The Green Zionist Alliance: The Acorn That Acted Like a Tree
- Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Green suffuses Zionist congress
- The Jewish Daily Forward: Keeping the Land of Milk and Honey Pollution-free
- Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Environmental slate tries to prove it's easy to be both green and Zionist
- The Jewish Daily Forward: A Green Cure for Zionism's Blues
- Jerusalem Post: Greens represented at Zionist Congress
- Jerusalem Post: The greening of Zionism