Activists condemn US environmentalist group's tours to Israel, Palestinian territories

Activists condemn US environmentalist group's tours to Israel, Palestinian territories
Palestinian activists say planned trips to Israel and the Palestinian territories by the Sierra Club, a major US environmentalist group, are an example of greenwashing.
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
19 August, 2022
A Palestinian tends to olive trees [Getty]

Activists are condemning an upcoming guided trip by the Sierra Club to Israel and Palestine saying that the group is not living up to claimed commitments to anti-racism and environmental justice.  

“We condemn Sierra Club’s upcoming trips to apartheid Israel that green light Israeli colonialism and harm indigenous Palestinians,” a joint statement by the Adalah Justice Project and NDN Collective said.  

“To live up to its professed commitments to anti-racism and environmental justice, Sierra Club must cancel these apartheid tours,” the statement continued. 

The Sierra Club is an American organisation associated with the progressive movement which promotes environmentalism, sustainable tourism and outdoor activities. Its trip to Israel is due to take place next week.

In February, Palestinian activists demanded that the Sierra Club cancel its trips to Israel, which they argued was a greenwashing of Israel’s harmful policies against Palestinians and their land.

The Sierra Club initially canceled its trips, but then backtracked following pressure from pro-Israel groups, despite offers from Palestinian groups to advise them on their trips. A Sierra Club blog post appears to show they are working to meet their stated commitment to equality. 

“I think the trips could be salvaged in a very simple way: be invited by the Palestinians. Then you’d be dealing with the political realities,” Sandra Tamari, Adalah Justice Project’s executive director, told The New Arab. “Unfortunately, the Sierra Club has turned its back on Palestinians.” 

The Sierra Club’s new trips will include a Palestinian guide in Bethlehem, according to the blog post.

However, Adalah Justice Project and NDN Collective describe this measure as tokenism, given Israel’s recent assault on Gaza which killed 49 people. They said that in addition to killing and injuring scores of Palestinians, Israel's assaults on Gaza have a devastating impact on the environment. 

The activists have suggested contacting the Sierra Club by social media to publicly condemn their decision to host trips to Israel. Over the past week, dozens of people have denounced on Twitter and Instagram the Sierra Club’s trip to Israel.  

The New Arab’s attempts to reach the Sierra Club for comment were unsuccessful.