2009 Israel 15 Conference

  • June 19th, 2009 by Martin

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2009 Israel 15 Conference

2009 Israel 15 Conference2009 Israel 15 ConferenceMy Group at the Israel 15 Conference – June 8, 2009

The Israel 15 project is a product of the Re’ut Institute, arguably Israel’s most incisive and forward-looking think tank.  The project looks for ways in which the country can leapfrog technologically and socially to make it one of the world’s top 15 countries in terms of quality of life.  Quality of life is a subjective measure, and while many “objective” metrics are available, (UN, OECD, EU etc.), true quality of life can only be measured by the reporting of people asked about their own within the society they inhabit.

I’m considered something of an environmental expert in Israel, which is a bit strange.  Strange because most of my thinking and speaking is highly critical of environmentalism as we think of it.  So it’s probably more accurate to say that I’m an environmentalism critic.

My niche is my claim that the Green Movement has taken us about as far as it can, and that until environmentalism has meaning for social conservatives, it won’t be able to go much further.  We all understand how high the stakes are, but no major portal exists for the conservative and less-educated segments of society.

For this reason, I have posited that the military must and must be seen to be playing a central role in environmental issues, both in Israel and in the United States.  Only military involvement can prove that the environment is critical to all citizens, not just to those guided by their intellect and conscience.  The issue must become visceral in order to gain universal acceptance.

And so I formed an informal panel composed of Gila Kliffi, an Israeli Brigadier General responsible for military infrastructure, and Limor Alouf, Israel’s number one authority on all things environmental.

I began the session presenting the notion described above:  That universal adoption could not occur until the military was visibly involved in environmental issues.

Ms. Alouf began her remarks by saying that only a change of mindset could re-start the environmental movement, and that only when Greens changed their missions from confrontation to collaboration would things start flowing again.  She maintains, and I concur, that the confrontation model has run its course and that if Greens continued to focus on that one track, they would soon come to be seen as not much more than obstructionists.

General Kliffi’s point was that the Israeli Army was already doing much to further environmental health in Israel, but was not making the lion’s share of that work public, saying that the army is very good at doing, but not very good at communicating with the public.  It would be hard for me to agree more.

In addition to what the army may or may not be doing, I had proposed 3 strong and visible additions to its activities:

  • The foundation of an “e-corps” for those young Israelis who, for one reason or another, did not join the army.  The e-corps would be involved in clean-up efforts of lands and waterways, and in the education of the population at large about the critical path for Israel to join the family of clean global economies.
  • The foundation of a military think tank, a kind of e-DARPA, to consider optimal energy, water and transportation use.
  • A group to cull those already-extant environmental technologies currently confined to the military for civilian use.

The ensuing Q&A was very lively, with some doing the usual conference self-promotion schtick, but with most engaged in what for them was a novel approach to strengthening the fight against waste and global warming.

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