Greenwashing is a term that is used to promote the perception that a company’s policies or products are environmentally friendly when the company is engaged in work that is actually destructive to the environment. A well-known example would be British Petroleum which re-branded itself with a shorter name, BP, which they said now meant “beyond petroleum”. They adopted a sun-like green and pale yellow logo as well to signify their new, eco-friendly brand and policies.. But BP was still an oil company and was responsible for the biggest oil spill x,y,z.
In the case of Israel, Greenwashing describes the way Israel tries to cultivate an image of being environmentally responsible in order to deflect attention from the daily realities of discrimination and restricted freedoms among Palestinians, including the degradation of natural resources that by right belong to Palestinians. In some cases, programs or Israeli government bodies appropriate the language of environmentalists to justify actions that violate the rights of Palestinian and Bedouin communities. In other cases, the environmental interests of Palestinian and Bedouin communities are actually x,y,z
Examples of Greenwashing:
Jewish National Fund–Water
Jewish National Fund–Forestry and Ecology
Jewish National Fund claims to be at the forefront of environmental issues such as water, forestry, and ecology; however, JNF is responsible for replacing Palestinian villages with forests including the demolition of Bedouin villages inside of Israel.
Jewish National Fund re-branded itself as a Green organization:
Better Place is a company that is going to start selling electric cars in Israel. While the site claims to be green and in support of electric cars, the cars in the West bank are only available to West Bank settlers on Israeli-Jewish roads, and is in violation of international law. James D. Wolfensohn, the former World Bank President, is one of the investors.
Mekorot is one of the world’s most technologically advanced water companies in Israel.
Most villages in the Jordan Valley used to have their own water supply as there are plenty of natural springs and wells in the area. But over the years, Mekorot dug deeper wells to facilitate the industrialized settlement business and the natural resources dried up. Palestinians are now forced to buy back their water from Mekorot at inflated prices, while the settlers’ water supply is subsidised by the Israeli state.
Israel’s largest fresh produce exporter. By its own admission the company, which is half owned by the State of Israel, exports 70% of the produce grown in illegal West Bank settlements. Europe is by far its biggest market, though its produce arrives as far as North America and the Far East. Agrexco promotes itself as a green company, with a focus eco-friendly packaging and organic produce on “green ships” used to bring fresh produce to Europe named Bio-Top and EcoFresh.
The Ahava website sells its products by marketing them as coming from the Dead Sea, “a natural geological wonder formed throughout the millennia and located at the bottom of the world.” Ahava’s products are actually made in Mitzpe Shalem which is in the Occupied West Bank. Israeli Jews who live in the settlements of Mitzpe Shalem and nearby Kalia own 44% of Ahava.
“Veolia is a multinational French company operating in the fields of water, waste management, energy and transport services. Through its subsidiary Veolia Environmental Services Israel (which has bought T.M.M. Integrated Recycling Services), it owns and operates the Tovlan Landfill in the occupied Jordan Valley. The Waste transferred to Landfill originates from recycle factories from within Israel and from settlements in the West Bank. The company uses captured Palestinian land and natural resources for the needs of Israeli settlements from both side of the green line.”
BlueStar is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering the next generation of Israel advocates and leaders. The site has free downloadable posters for campuses and community activists.
There are many Palestinian NGOs focusing on the environment that we do not hear about in the mainstream media. Here are a few:
- Wadi Fukim
- Friends of the Earth International
- Palestinian Ecological and Agricultural Organizations
- Palestine Wildlife Society
Groups Working Against Greenwashing:
Green Prophet–a sustainable voice for green news on the Middle East region–on Greenwashing
The Palestine Telegraph, “Stop Greenwashing Apartheid Makes a Breakthrough”
Corporate Watch on Greenwashing