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US green group reschedules Israel trips it canceled amid pro-Palestinian pressure

17 4 9

J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA — Five months after canceling its planned trips to Israel, and then — following outrage from Jewish organizations — apologizing days later and saying the trips would be reinstated, the Sierra Club has quietly posted a new excursion to Israel for next year.

Called “Natural and Historical Highlights of Israel,” the two-week trip in March 2023 will include many of the same activities the Sierra Club offered before activists convinced the environmental nonprofit to cancel two Israel outings. The trip will feature snorkeling, bird watching, nights on a kibbutz and a visit to Tel Aviv.

Participants will also meet with Palestinians working on conservation to hear “first-hand about their daily and ongoing challenges,” according to the itinerary that was posted Friday. The itinerary also lists a visit to the Arava Institute, which brings Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and students from around the world together for environmental studies and research, and whose motto is “Nature knows no political borders.”

The planned Sierra Club trip is the latest development in a saga that saw one of the country’s oldest and most influential environmental groups, which traditionally avoids politics in favor of a big-tent approach to environmental conservation, embroiled in a public controversy that drew ire from large Jewish organizations and prompted intervention by California politicians.

Jesse Gabriel, a California Assembly member who chairs the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, joined a virtual meeting with Sierra Club Executive Director Dan Chu along with other members of the caucus after J. broke the story March 11 that the Sierra Club had indefinitely postponed its trips to Israel at the urging of groups who claimed Sierra Club was “greenwashing” the conflict. The Sierra Club is headquartered in Oakland.

“It immediately caught my attention, as it did for a number of my colleagues in the [caucus],” Gabriel said. “A lot of us do work in the environmental space and have good relationships with the Sierra Club. People were obviously very upset by that, and very disturbed by it.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt........

© The Times of Israel

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