Only In Israel

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Green Line

That's what the common name for the 1967 borders is. Most media outlets use that name, and its common in every political discussion about Israel.
Have you ever wondered why it's called the Green Line? Here's why:



See the forest? That's Israel. See where it ends and desert begins? That's the West Bank.
And that's what they mean when they say "Jews made the desert bloom".
Not many people are aware of it, but the world's largest reforestation effort is made in Israel. Israel is probably the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a gain of trees. The Jewish National Fund is responsible for that. It constantly plants new trees and creates new forests every year, making Israel greener and greener.
The situation on the other side is naturally, much much worse. The few natural reserves that the Brits left on the other side were left destroyed and unprotected by Jordan. Rivers are polluted. And here's the worst of it: there is no efficient garbage handling in the Palestinan side. Their way of getting rid of trash is taking it a mile away from their villages and burning it. Which not only badly pollutes the environment, but leaves a constant stench in the outskirts of their villages. Sometimes it's so bad, that driving in a few miles radius from such a site without throwing up becomes a challenge.
Sewage? Since the Israeli built treatment plant in Gaza went out of order in the 90s, Palestinians just let the sewer flow into the sea.
Don't get me wrong, I realize that Palestinians have much bigger problems than their environment to handle. But so did young Israel in the 50s, where every home had a JNF collection tin to plant as many trees possible. It seems to me that the environmental issue is left untouched in the Palestinian authority, and that efforts to clean the environment and make it greener are kept on our side of the Green line.


A satellite photo of Israel. The "Green Line" is obvious even from space

Anyway, I know it's a lot after "Tu Bi-Shvat" (A Jewish holiday, in which it is a custom to plant trees), but you can still plant a tree in Israel, even from your own couch: The Jewish National Fund lets you plant your own tree by donating online.
The next time some Israel-hater starts whining about the "Green Line", remind him what it means.

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