Israel & the Plastic Quagmire, Colltalers
In the 1960s, it seemed like a good idea: plastic bags to carry stuff. And to pack, ship, roll into a straw, and wrap food and drinks. It was hygienic, versatile, and eternal. A brave new world miracle. Now it’s what it’s stuffing to death the stomachs of whales.
The global right wing wave hijacking democracies, and promoting a populism of oppression, has a major date tomorrow, with the Israeli elections. A win by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu may dash for good the Palestinians’ dream of a homeland.
Reversing the impact of our toxic lifestyle on the environment, and preventing the expansion of authoritarian regimes, are in fact related issues. For it’s unlikely that a government used to annex territories by force, would also protect its people from pollution and climate change. Netanyahu, who’s played masterfully the ‘fear-your-neighbor’ trump card, has no time for such ‘distractions.’
The demise of the long fought-for two-state solution, sabotaged by everyone but the almost two million living in Gaza strip, has opened the doors for an exceptionally bleak time for Israeli-Palestinian relations. If before, peace negotiations stalled on minutia, but were still on, now, bullets aimed at the protesters’ limbs, and the occasional bomb from beyond the walls, are doing the talk.
For a time, a young, urban generation of Israelis, and their stated foes, Iranians, fed up with the fear of terrorism and external aggression, had represented the world’s biggest hope to a less militarized, more commonwealth-like Middle East. That, and the international pressure for peace in the region. After all, citizens of both nations have been equally victimized by the status quo.
Those hopes began to fade by a spectacular string of bad decisions taken in the past 20 years by the U.S. and its allies, starting by the invasion and destruction on false premises of Iraq. Rhetoric by George W. Bush and his war-mongering cabinet have
helped usher a new crop of leaders with an authoritarian streak, like Netanyahu, who like others, waited in the wings to seize power.
Not coincidentally, it was around the same time that Turkey’s Recep Erdogan and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad rose to ruling their nations, along the entry into politics of infamous Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, just a few years later.
All three represent hurdles to a peaceful solution for the complex socio-political issues in the region. An unlikely defeat by the Likud Party’s chairman could mean a badly needed de-escalation of hostilities, restart of the dialogue between the two sides, and the eventual birth of a new sovereign state. But for now, Israel has the upper hand and is wrong on turning its back to peace.
A word about the recent fake controversy over the Trump administration’s support to Jerusalem, and the misleading charge that those against it are anti-Semites. For it shouldn’t be hard to separate the inalienable right to exist of the Jewish people and State of Israel, from the cruelty of its autocratic regime. To deny it, or pretend it’s beyond reproach, is to back an idea dictators love.
For ‘dear leaders’ everywhere, even those who submit to the electoral game while it favors them, their word is unquestionable. Period. Above all, besides changing hands, Israelis and Palestinians need to recognize their right to mutual, pacific, coexistence.
For some time, we all knew of the dangers of plastic being present in almost everything we touch, use, or dispose of, without a set of regulations to have its producers be part of its recycling. In less than 40 years, plastic reached every corner of the world.
The second dead whale to wash ashore with the stomach stuffed with tons of plastic, though, showed us that the situation is already out of control. Even if the world would stop consuming plastic today, that wouldn’t make any discernible difference to the state of oceans and marine life: after the fish, birds, and entire coral reefs, it’s only natural that whales are now also victims.
Large extensions of the seas have become traps for stray plastics, objects and utensils we’ve tossed with abandon, without much thought about where they’d wind up. At uninhabited islands, faraway shores, and coastlines on both poles, that’s where. And we lack the political will and the technology to effectively remove it from there; even recycling of cities’ garbage is in crisis lately.
The hardest part is that there are no practical alternatives. All too powerful tech goddess still has no mass solution to our crisis. So most likely, we’ll continue tossing single-use plastic forks and knives, bags and cup lids, water bottles, straws and Styrofoam containers, and damned straws, as if there’s no tomorrow, which is probably what will happen if something is not done soon.
It’s a good thing then that it’s National Volunteer Week, your chance to become part of the solution. Social inequality punishes those who least contribute to it, while letting the powerful off the hook. Yes, pollution and climate change affect us all, but those at the bottom get hit the hardest. There must be something we can do against the incoming ‘Plasticalypse.’ Any ideas? Cheers WC