2024-07-23 10:56

And now the plague stains the environmental movement


A wrong step by the Friends of the Earth International causes the pacifists of the FoE Middle East to remain isolated.

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The Friends of the Earth Italy have been proud for a long time to be part of an international federation that had chosen, in the mid-90s, to be represented in the Middle East by a single group, Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoE Middle East), an association of pacifist culture, formed by Israelian, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists to work together despite the dramatic difficulties that a such an effort           could encounter in de facto war zones. And not only in war zones, unfortunately, but also in parts of the environmental movement affected by a deleterious conformism.

In fact, in addition to many difficulties, FoE Middle East has bee strongly opposed by an organization called PENGON (Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network), which exhibits little resemblance to an environmental organization but appears a sort of bureaucratic articulation of Palestinian Authority officials aimed to control the situation and to prevent the development of structures that do not respond blindly to the Authority.

Since the beginning of the new millennium, PENGON turned to the Friends of the Earth International Federation (FOE International) to convince its members and its governing bodies to disregard FOE Middle East as a group member, questioning the legitimacy of the decision to considerer this pacifist group as a unified representation for of three "enemy" nations.

It has been a long arm twisting exercise PENGON conducted thanks to the support, inside of FoE International, of some groups, mainly Latin Americans, engaged in each Friends of the Earth World Congress in voting indignant motions against Israel, whatever it would be its policy over the years. Thus, PENGON obtained gradually, from FoE International, as a first action the downgrading of FoE Middle East from member group to affiliated group (a minor association form, non-voting) and is asking now to be recognized as a group member for the "Palestinian nation", the only group member left in the region. This choice in favor of PENGON was justified on based of the technicality that the international Friends of the Earth federal system provides for the recognition of only one group member for each state. In essence, the choice corresponds to the emergence in the 2000s, in some areas of ecology, of a conformist majority on many issues typical of the anti-globalization movement, including the issue of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Currently, there is an ongoing attempt to expel definitively from the international network FoE Middle East, the association with Israeli- Jordanian- Palestinian members. PENGON uses the classic accusation (particularly aimed to the Middle East FOE Palestinian activists) of "collaboration with the enemy”  for having participated in a hearing at the Israeli parliament on issues of water management. PENGON is even trying to intimidate with the fact some activists that, for security reasons, have decided to not disclose their names and their pictures, should do so.

FOE Middle East has therefore decided to appeal to all groups members of the Friends of the Earth Federation into the world to seek solidarity on a global scale to resist against the liquidating attempts. This request for help, at the moment, it remained unanswered, except for the clear position taken by Friends of the Earth Italy, set out in a letter circulated among the members of the International Federation. If this silence will continue, the situation would become untenable. We are concerned, among other things, that in the agenda of the next annual general meeting (AGM) of Friends of the Earth Europe, there is the umpteenth program of a "solidarity trip to Palestine and other initiatives," prepared exclusively with PENGON.

All this is happening just when, paradoxically, Abu Mazen, perhaps to cultivate Western public opinion, has recognized the Shoah, an essential step to resume peace negotiations for peace, evoked by the papal of a meeting in Rome for a common prayer and negotiation.

Friends of the Earth Italy supports FoE Middle East and appreciates their courage and perseverance. Peace, one day, will come and will be the peace built by people like them, capable to work together for the environment in an area where energy, water, waste, biodiversity, nature, and cultural heritage are not easily separable into nationalist enclaves.

 "Quiet acceptance, at times, becomes an unwitting slide toward neutrality. Neutrality in front of injustice becomes some kind of complicity." (Desmond Tutu, quoted by Barbara Stefanelli on " Corriere della Sera" , May 17th, 2014 ).

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