באפריל 2012 יצאנו למסע מיוחד לירדן בו השתתפו סטודנטים ופעילים לסביבה מאוניברסיטת תל אביב ומהרשות הפלסטינית במטרה להיפגש עם אנשי סביבה ירדנים וללמוד על הבעיות המשותפות לאזור כולו. להלן דוח ותגובות המשתתפים, שהיו נלהבות במיוחד. אור קטן בחשכת השלום המתרחק.
Students for Environment and Regional Sustainability:
An Israeli-Palestinian project by Van Leer and HPS
Report on the Jordan Study Tour and Seminar, April 2012
Following a year long work of a joint group of young Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists they expressed their wish to expand their knowledge and understanding of "regional sustainability" by conducting an environmental study tour to Jordan. Fortunately, we were able to connect with the Jordanian NGO Masar which promotes environmental activity under their unit "Green Echo", and they organized a wonderful study tour for us, which included meetings with local environmentalist, an academic seminar and visits to different sites.
The tour took place between April 27 – April 30, 2012 with the participation of 16 Israelis, most of them students of Tel Aviv University Porter School for Environmental Studies, and 8 Palestinians – all academics in the field and some are government officials who deal with the environment. In addition to the rich knowledge and information they acquired during the trip, the participants, who knew each other from previous activities, had a chance to deepen their acquaintance and spend together 4 intensive days and 3 evenings, long drives, joint meals and endless conversations. The integration was above expectations and the bonds they created are, in our view, very significant in the long term and go beyond this trip.
In the seminar we met about 15 Jordanian environmentalists – from the academia and the civil society, and learnt a lot about the severe problem Jordan is facing with lack of water and their efforts to develop green energy. We also heard about a civil struggle against the intention of the Jordanian authorities to build a nuclear reactor. Here too – the interaction between the people was really smooth and the conversations were held in much respect and mutual listening.
In the lectures and discussions – all 3 groups raised ideas for cooperation in this field and stressed their belief that the environment can be a great tool to overcome political obstacles through working together around common interests which are basic human needs. Some of the participants intend to further develop these ideas and submit them to decision makers in their respective countries. One immediate result of the seminar was the creation of joint facebook page for the entire group, in which they already started corresponding and developing their ideas for cooperation. Another outcome would be several "policy papers" which the participants want to write together and publish. Some of the Israeli students will write seminar papers on various problems they met during the trip, as part of their academic assignments. All in all we feel that this was an exceptional group and a unique tour. The combination of professional and attentive people, high level of lectures and discussions, great hospitality by the Jordanian hosts and common interest of all the group members in environmental issues + the interesting sites we had visited – both environmental and touristic – and the social activities we organized in the evenings – all this contributed a lot to the success of this project.
Following you will find a collection of some of the participants' feedbacks:
Abdel Ghani: "It's unforgettable time which we spent in Jordan, in that amazing journey, with wonderful group. In fact we enjoyed, and get many useful things, most important of them that we introduced ourselves to good people, and defined the human side in each other. For me, I became more convinced that the Peace is possible to be in this Land, so we need to work on it, maybe the face book page is a useful tool to discuss and raise new ideas".
Muhammad: "I will never forget the beautiful days that we stay together with all groups in Jordan. I was really very happy in this trip, and this trip allowed me to talk with all the groups explaining our situation and living and education too". We spent beautiful days in Jordan, I hope that we will pass another trip together develop our environment research and PEACE together.
Batool: "This trip is one of the important stations in my life, not only because it is my first time to visit Jordan. All of my life I didn't like politics, even I don't like to read the newspaper, I dream to live in peace, not only political peace, but also green peace, always thinking how can I make a change to protect and re-preserve our environment, but unfortunately always I felt that I am alone, But after this trip I saw that I am not alone, there are other Palestinians and Israelis and also Jordanians who want the whole region to live in this green environmental peace, which gives me energy to go on and raise my head and say: I want to help our environment to live in peace and bring justice".
Nasser: It’s a great pleasure to be part of the group, and I thank you much for the effort you made to bring it to life I had a great time in Jordan, and I felt that I was between friends whom I knew for years. I hope we can maintain our friendship which we laid the foundation for during our trip in Jordan, and be able to tackle our environmental problems and bypass the political restrictions to achieve our goals. Jordan trip was a good foundation for future relations, that we can build on it, and expand the group in terms our ambition for peace
Ibrahim: I extend my sincere thanks for both Sarah and Nidal for the efforts they are doing in order to achieve the environmental peace, which has become an important hub in the issues of contemporary societies. Environmental Peace can be the basis of the political agreement and the coexistence of peoples. I think there should be more scientific work and visits to countries which have practical experience in environmental projects connected to peace.
Yasser: "I enjoyed so much this great environmental trip specially meeting all of you there…joining foods and drinks with you , laughing and dancing. I felt that I have known all of you for many years, looking forward to improve our environment in terms of sustainable development and protect our environmental elements regardless of current political situation for the present and future generations…looking for love, safety, freedom, and beautiful life.. just because we are human beings.
Carmel: The tour and seminar in Jordan contributed greatly to my understanding of the local Jordanian environmental problems and the relations with Israel within this context. It provided me with a broader picture of their local issues, current social activism and the level of public awareness to environmental issues. It also made me realize that if environmental matters are becoming more of an issue in Jordan, there is a basis to think about joint initiatives and common action, and to develop a dialogue around the matter. I would definitely recommend continuing to integrate the program and tours in the curriculum of The Porter School of Environmental Studies since there is nothing like viewing the problems with your own eyes.
Ran: The meeting helped me understand the environmental problems from different perspective and point of view. I also realized that we have much in common – especially that there (like here) there are always things that seem more important and urgent to deal with, so the environmental considerations are pushed back and the environmental problems remain a relatively neglected area. I see great importance in continuing to meet with our Palestinian and Jordanian counterparts, with and without regard to our common environmental goals.
Keren: The tour contributed to understanding of the most serious environmental problem in Jordan – the water crisis. The immediate solutions undertaken by our governments, which lack a long-term environmental outlook, are an excellent example of the way we – western culture, see the environment today. Traveling with the Palestinian environmentalists greatly contributed to the tour in my eyes, mainly because of the relations created in the group. This experience gave me confidence in them, as well as hope that we can cooperate.
Reut: The tours and seminar helped me understand the environmental challenges facing Jordan, such as the construction of a nuclear energy production facility, the issue of waste management and the limitations of the authorities in this matter. It was encouraging to see local organizations that are determined to fight for the environment, and see the potential for cooperation. Also about the common challenges – I realized that the subject of the Dead Sea and Jordan River are more complicated than I thought and here too I expanded my knowledge. I would devote resources and efforts to continue these tours and seminars. I believe that meeting with environmentalists – Jordanians and Palestinians – is very important.
Jackie: I learned that environmentalists face the same challenges no matter their nationality – We all face a lack of funding, the fact that the national governments (no matter how rich or poor) are more concerned with increasing the GDP and development than they are with solving environmental issues. Going to Jordan with a group of native Israelis and Palestinians was an incredible experience. It was nice to travel with people involved in environmental professions in one way or another. Their experience in the field brought insight that went beyond the academic setting. Despite the fact that the age range of the group was between twenty three through the late fifties we all got along wonderfully and meshed really well.
Monica (student of the International MA Program): The bonds that formed as friendships came to fruition guided us through four days of sensitive material. It was this foundation of trust and friendship that allowed the trip to turn into an opportunity. Through mutual respect, an opening was developed in order to address environmental issues on a regional scale instead of through political boundaries. By drawing attention to the willingness of three nationalities to work together, the empowerment process had begun. The four days were spent learning, traveling and witnessing the interplay between the respective countries. It was also spent building diplomacy that would lead toward mutual cooperation on future environmental projects that can resolve serious environmental deficiencies.