Green Globe awards given to Arab-Israeli schools
Environmentalists stress link between green issues and social justice.
green globe Photo: Courtesy
For the Alzahraa School in Kafr Kasim, winning a Green Globe award is more than
just a tribute to the hard work of the students and teachers in transforming the
school into an environmental oasis.
“The award that I received today is
not just an award for the school but for the community of Kafr Kasim as a
whole,” headmaster Safwat Tahah told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
possible to lead changes in the community by means of schools, and in our case,
changes in environmental awareness and in lifestyle.”
The ninth annual
Green Globe awards were held in the courtyard of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on
Sunday evening, organized by Life and Environment, the umbrella body for the
country’s environmental organizations and green groups. Nine winners received
Green Globes for their positive environmental work in the community and one
offender received a Black Globe, all held in the presence of Environmental
Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai.
there’s something we learned from protests last year it’s that social justice
goes with environmental justice,” said Naor Yerushalmi, Environment and Life’s
The Alzahraa School in Kafr Kasim won a Green Globe
in the “Environmental Education” category alongside a school with the same name
in Kalansuwa, at the opposite, northern end of the Triangle of Arab towns
located in the country’s central region.
Kafr Kasim, some 25 kilometers
northeast of Tel Aviv, has about 55 teachers and 850 students, many of whom hail
from Beduin families who emigrated from the South. In the past few years, the
school has trained 18 of its teachers in environmental education and launched
numerous programs – such as an ecological garden, a petting zoo and a solar
“Most of my pride is on the shared projects with the community
of Kafr Kasim and the parents of the school in their shared learning with the
students of the school,” Tahah told the Post.
One such project has school
mothers coming to study sustainable gardening with the students, and then bring
the techniques they learn back home.
Another involved girls at the school
studying traditional embroidery and weaving from women in the village, as well
as the students and teachers discussing green consumerism.
learned at school are now repeated at homes in Kafr Kasim, such as recycling
paper, according to Tahah. He was particularly pleased with the results of
environmental dialogue programs that his school has conducted with Jewish
schools in Ramat Gan and Gadera.
At the other winning Alzahraa School, in
Kalansuwa – located about 35 km. north of Kafr Kasim and 16 km. east of Netanya
– 398 students and 31 staff members have been involved in an environmental
education program that was launched four years ago. Since 2008, the school has
been adding environmental activities to its curriculum, such as ecological
gardening, recycling, rainwater collection, restoration of an ancient well and
“Alzahraa School sees environmental education as an
important means to achieving its educational objectives,” a report from the
“The school strives to nurture and preserve the school and
community’s surroundings through the students.”
The students and their
teachers have together built wastesorting stations in classrooms and in the
school yard, which include separate bins for large bottles, small bottles,
paper, cardboard and fried olive oil leftovers.
The school has added a
Globe Station to its grounds – a meteorological research hut that is part of the
international GLOBE program, a US government initiative in which more than 1.5
million students across the world investigate their environments and engage
through a central Internet platform.
These Green Globes, according to
Tahah, are testaments to the improvement in the attitude of Arab-Israeli society
in general toward the environment.
“There are other leaders in the sector
who have chosen environmental education as a central axis and there is much room
for additional partners,” Tahah told the Post. “It is important to provide them
with support and guidance and to direct them to act in a scope that includes the
local community. The Arab population has been improving in recent years its
awareness, and schools can without a doubt play an important role in the
Carmit Lubanov, general director of the Association of
Environmental Justice in Israel, agreed that “the language of discourse has
begun to change, but there is a very big gap” between talking and implementing
environmental change among leaders in the Arab-Israeli sector. Involvement in
green behaviors must be channeled beyond the schools and deeper into the
communities, she said.
Another leader in the sector, Dr. Hussein
Tarabeih, is executive director of an organization that also won a Green Globe
award on Sunday – the general Green Globe. His organization, the Sakhnin Center,
located at the Agan Beit Natufa Towns Association for Environmental Quality, has
been working for about 18 years in the Arab- Israeli sector in the
“[Receiving the award] is a recognition of the importance of our
work in dealing with environmental issues in Israel,” Tarabeih told the Post
last week. “Until we were established there was nothing in the Arab sector and
it was the first organization dealing with environmental issues.”
Sakhnin Center is in the process of establishing an information hub to focus on
environmental science – with a goal of bringing together Jewish and Arab
families as well as scientists to promote coexistence and eco-peace. For the
next five to 10 years, the center will also be working on integrating energy
conservation ideals into school curriculums and community values, Tarabeih
Other Green Globe winners included the city of Tel Aviv- Jaffa for
its Tel-O-Fun bicycle project, which has more than 16,000 annual subscribers,
according to Life and Environment.
Individuals and organizations
protecting the nation’s coasts – much of which is endangered by construction –
also collectively received a Green Globe.
Avihai Sheli of Netivot, the
first blind man to complete the licensing exams to manage investment portfolios,
won a Volunteer Activist Green Globe for his work with the Green Course
organization to promote public transportation in the Negev. Meanwhile, in the
Business Sector category, the Kibbutz Horshim-owned Termokir company won an
award for years of promoting sustainability and social
The Israel Bio-Organic Agriculture Association, which
focuses on promoting the development of a human-, animal- and environmentally
friendly food industry, won a Green Globe in the Sustainable Food category. For
Environmental Life Work, Dr. Martin Weill, the CEO of the Beracha Foundation,
won a prize for his efforts to convert the Hiriya landfill into the Ariel Sharon
Park green oasis.
A final Green Globe went to MK Dov Henin (Hadash) in
the “Public Figure” category for his constant work to pass environmental
legislation and protect nature and open spaces.
“Public support is vital
in dealing with environmental challenges,” Henin said, stressing the correlation
between social and environmental justice.
“I see great importance in the
continuation of the public mobilization on environmental- social issues. Despite
many achievements, we face significant challenges and we must not rest on our
While nine Green Globes were awarded, a Black Globe condemned
the proposed Planning and Building Reform, which Life and Environment labeled as
“anti-social justice” and “the most destructive law.”
the organization argued, would smash the hierarchy of the existing planning
system, do away with governmental checks and balances and weaken the authority
of the Environmental Protection Ministry.
“There is no doubt that there
is room for streamlining the planning system, but the proposed reform is not
built on democratic principles, but mainly on the desire to benefit the powers
of the state and increase the politicization of the planning system,” the