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Enduring Technological Optimism: Zionism’s Environmental Ethic and its Influence on Israel’s Environmental History

By Dr. Alon Tal


ABSTRACT

 

When Zionism emerged in Europe as the Jewish people's national movement at the advent of the 20th century, its political leaders and ideological visionaries were concerned about defining an appropriate relationship between Jewish settlement in Palestine and the Land of Israel. Just as it sported a rich variety of political camps and philosophies, Zionism did not embrace a monolithic environmental ethic. The perceptions and attitudes toward the natural world and the role of human intervention in the reclaiming of Jewish people's ancient homeland evolved dramatically as the pioneering community became more familiar with the country's physical realties and the agrarian economy became more industrialized. Yet, the initial technological optimism that informed the European founders' strategy for settlement in the Middle East persisted and influences responses to growing environmental challenges in Israel today.

 

 

 

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Eco-Quote

"Pioneers frequently perceived the natural world as challenging, hostile wilderness to be tamed through diligent Jewish settlement. Songs extolling production, the beauty of concrete, and the importance of construction became part of a nationalistic liturgy. While Israeli Zionists were certainly not unaware of the splendor of the land of Israel, the task of nation building dominated their senses."

- Dr. Alon Tal

Did You Know?

Although Israel only has the 97th largest population on earth, the country is among the world's most densely populated. Israel has more people per square mile than India and Japan.

Mideast Green News



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