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Israeli Green Colonialism and the Path to Environmental Justice

Authors: Ghada Sasa*, McMaster University
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Environment, Middle East
Keywords: "anthropocentric environmentalism", "green colonialism", "indigenous rights", "national parks", "nature reserves", Israel, Palestinian
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper consists of two major parts. The first explores how Israel appropriates environmentalism to advance its colonial objectives. More specifically, I explore how Israel builds nature reserves and national parks to facilitate its colonization of Palestinian and Syrian land. I accomplish this goal by mapping out these protected areas, noting how they are strategically concentrated in Jeusalem, the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the West Bank, the North of Historic Palestine, and the Naqab. Simultaneously, I recover Palestinian and Syrian histories Israel attempts to hide. In addition, I situate Israel's appropriation in a historical and global context, highlighting the danger Western environmentalism poses to humanity and the environment. In the second part of my thesis, I outline how we should adopt anthropocentric environmentalism, as it understands the intrinsic link between human and environmental well-being, while prioritizing the former. Informed by social green thought, radical environmentalism, Palestinian and other marginalized indigenous ontologies and epistemologies, and science, I argue we can only achieve human security when we achieve environmental security and vice versa. I present ways to decolonize environmentalism, which include: (1) education on green colonialism and retraining of environmentalists, (2) acknowledgment among environmentalists of indigenous people’s rights to their lands, and (3) appreciation of indigenous knowledge and natives’ roles as environmentalists. If more environmentalists appreciate the importance of centering human rights, they may not fall into the category of oppressive environmentalists, such as climate capitalists, eco-fascists, and bioenvironmentalists.

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