Sierra Club reinstates Israel tours slammed for greenwashing apartheid

Sierra Club reinstates Israel tours slammed for greenwashing apartheid
Progressive groups had hoped the Sierra Club Foundation would acknowledge Palestinians in their nature tours to Israel, but their trips have been reinstated while continuing to not mention Palestinians.
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
18 March, 2022
A view of the Golan Heights, an occupied part of Israel not mentioned in the Sierra Club Foundation's descriptions of its tours to Israel. (Getty)

The Sierra Club Foundation has announced that it will be reinstating their nature tours to the country, just days after saying it would suspend its upcoming guided nature tours to Israel following criticism led by pro-Palestinian progressive groups.

The foundation now described their recent decision to postpone two trips to Israel as a "hastily-made decision" reached without consulting their stakeholders.

"The process that led to this was done in ways that created confusion, anger, and frustration," said the foundation’s acting director Dan Chu, in an online statement.

The decision to postpone - or indefinitely cancel, as they removed the two tours from the website - came just 36 hours after Sierra Club  met on Monday with the Adalah Justice Project, a progressive pro-Palestinian group.

The meeting was immediately followed by objections from prominent pro-Israeli groups, such as the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, to the postponed trips.

Adalah Justice Project's executive director, Sandra Tamari, told The New Arab that the representatives she initially spoke with from the Sierra Club Foundation appeared to be open to Adalah’s concerns.

"The committee was very respectful. We recommended to the executive director that these trips be postponed, to engage in a wider conversation about what it meant to go on these trips," she said.

"Our coalition told the Sierra Club we were willing to consult and work with them about a trip that would be ethical and responsible," she said.

"What we mean by ethical travel is you have to be invited by the indigenous people, and not walk in and pretend like the land has no connection to the indigenous people. They claim in their statements that’s their commitment."

In the Sierra Club Foundation’s letter announcing its decision to reinstate the trips to Israel, they emphasise justice and respect, though they make no reference to Palestinians.

"Justice is at the core of our work at the Sierra Club and what it requires is that we treat all individuals and communities with fairness, honesty, respect, and equity," the statement read.

"As we plan new outings to Israel later this year, we will do so with input from a wide range of partners to create an itinerary that educates and deepens an understanding and appreciation for the region, just as we will seek to do with all outings."

Although the trips were reinstated, Tamari still sees the development as a step toward raising awareness of what hers and other progressive Palestinian groups refer to as Israel’s greenwashing, promoting its environmentalism to distract from its politics.