Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, Israel Electric Corporation
chairman Yiftah Ran-Tal and “Miss Israel” Yityish Titi Aynaw piled their hands
together on Monday night as if preparing for a sports huddle – counting down
from 10 and then jointly slamming down a giant yellow button.
And for a
few moments, the top of dump-turned-oasis Ariel Sharon Park – where Earth Day
celebrations were occurring – went entirely black.
The darkness signaled
Israel’s official celebration of Earth Hour, during which 26 cities around the
country encouraged their citizens to shut off the lights and conserve energy
from 8 to 9 p.m. While it was certainly not completely dark, the Tel Aviv
skyline grew visibly dimmer as the clock struck 8.
Atop the garbage
mountain, after the few moments of complete darkness, celebrations continued
there with a dimmer stage.
“Every new kilowatt that is produced is
cleaner than a previous one,” said Ran-Tal, of Israel’s gradually greening
Aynaw, who noted that the environment is a key
element in almost every aspect of daily life, stressed the importance of
imparting these ideals to future generations.
“For someone who comes from
Ethiopia, I can say that it is certainly possible to consume much less
electricity,” she said.
After the spell of complete darkness, a singer
began performing Arik Einstein’s “You and I Will Change the World.”
Jerusalem, Mayor Nir Barkat turned off the lights illuminating the Old City at
the onset of Earth Hour.
Barkat was joined in his effort by Jorgen
Nilsson, a Swedish pilgrim and Brother of the Military and Hospitaller Order of
St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, who arrived in Jerusalem on Sunday at the end of his
5,000 kilometer pilgrimage from Sweden on foot.
Prior to the Jerusalem
lights-out, solar pioneer Yosef Abramowitz launched the Cool Globes exhibit, of
18 enormous globes decorating the capital with educational designs about climate
Preceding Israel’s Earth Hour celebration at Ariel Sharon Park was the 10th annual Green Globe award
ceremony, which has been recognizing the work of outstanding Israeli
environmentalists for the past decade. Hosted by Israel’s umbrella group for all
of its 130 green organizations – Life and Environment – the ceremony awards
seven green globes prizes, and presents one “black globe” to an environmental
The main green globe – the environmental “Oscar” – went to a
collective group of organizations and individuals who have successfully fought
against a controversial planning reform, which environmentalists felt would
render local authorities and the public powerless. In the green city category,
the winner was the Environment Committee of the Union for Local Authorities for
its work implementing waste projects and other green policies in the country’s
Members of Kiryat Shmona’s Nature and Natural Wonders
Preservation Society, headed by Yohanna Nazari, won a local environmental action
green globe for their work to restore a dwindling stream in their
In the volunteer environmental service category, the victor was Dan
Morgenstern, for his years of work promoting the deposit law for beverage
containers, while the public figure category winner was radio host and actor
Dalik Volonitz. The business sector green globe victor, meanwhile, was the
company Shikun V’Binui, for its ever-increasingly sustainable practices and
encouragement of widespread green building.
Lastly, the winner in the
environmental education category was the Ecology & Environment: Journal for
Science and Environmental Policy, which has made environmental knowledge
increasingly accessible, according to the judges.
organizations presented the black globe to Transportation Minister Israel Katz
for his work encouraging the construction of the railway to Eilat. Across the
board, green groups have deemed the railway unnecessarily expensive and harmful
to local biodiversity.
Addressing the award winners and the audience,
Life and Environment CEO Naor Yerushalmi called upon the government to adopt a
far-reaching environmental vision that aims to protect open spaces, care for
nature and improve public transportation.
While significant achievements
have already occurred, he stressed that there is still a lot of work ahead for
Israel’s green activists.
“We know that environmental justice is equal to
social justice,” Yerushalmi said, echoing a slogan of new minister
In his own speech that followed, Peretz emphasized the enormous
responsibility that he and his ministry have going forward to ensure that all
companies and organizations that “paint” themselves green are actually acting
“This mountain proves to us how much man can be a danger,” he
said, noting that at the same time, the mountain is proof that man is capable of
correcting his mistakes.