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If it was a religion...

16 Oct 2019 | OP ED Watch

Like psychoanalysing your opponents, accusing them of espousing a pseudo-religion as Gerard Baker did in the Wall Street Journal can be unhelpful. On the other hand, it’s revealing that people at climate rallies do carry icons of Greta Thunberg with a halo. And now Sue Surkes in the Times of Israel offers as “Yom Kippur food for thought” that “We have sinned against Israel’s land, water and air.” She also offers an updated “Al cheit” liturgy for those minded to repent. These sorts of signs tell you something could be a religion.

If Surkes’ god is angry he, she or it may not be very angry. Among the sins she offers up for breast-beating or perhaps even garment-rending are “We have sinned by weakening the authority of the Environmental Protection Ministry.” You don’t get turned into a pillar of salt for that one. Though for “We have sinned through our almost total dependence on desalination to guarantee our drinking water into the future” you might perhaps get turned into a pillar of lack of salt. But what about not using the brain God gave you?

Israelis famously made the desert bloom. They turned swamps and marshes and arid patches of nothing into farms and gardens and cities. In the process they made mistakes, of course. Including coming close to killing the Dead Sea, no mean feat (and one she does point out; it recedes about 1.2 metres per year because of diverting water from the Jordan River and it’s a really bad idea). More needs to be done, more intelligently even than it has been. But to portray the inhabitants of Israel as callously unconcerned with the environment is not stiff-necked, it’s bone-headed. Especially when you compare it to its neighbours.

Also, wouldn’t worshipping a solar panel seem kind of risky to those who take the Torah seriously?

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