Citizens for the Environment in Action – 2017

Citizens for the Environment (CFE) is changing the environmental arena in Israel through a singular model of joint Arab-Jewish partnership. We support Israeli citizens in their pursuit of a healthy and robust environment, and use cooperation between Jews and Arabs to foster environmental leadership in local communities. While our work is long-term, and environmental advancements are incremental by nature, this report sets out to detail our efforts and achievements in 2017.

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A Broad Spectrum

2017 saw us pressing forward with a large number of carefully curated activities, all of which were geared to protect natural resources, advance a public-health agenda, and impact the environmental code of conduct adopted by factories and industrial plants; we advocated for new legislation and for the implementation of environmental laws, and worked to promote public awareness of pressing environmental issues.

Internal changes were also afoot. In June, CFE elected a new board of directors, welcoming two new members. CFE’s current Board members are: Dr. Jeannette Michael, Baruch Ktalav, Habib Khoury, Liad Ortar, and Gonen Rozner.

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Following a thorough evaluation process,CFE’s Midot Effectiveness Score was renewed in the summer, providing additional proof of our effectiveness, our ability to create social value and bring about a change for the better.

 

 And, this chock-full year concluded on a festive note:

CFE was awarded the Knesset Speaker’s Quality of Life Prize for 2017.  

 

 

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Zooming in on 2017

In mid-2017 we completed one of our most ambitious efforts in recent years: focusing on the polluting industries in the Haifa Bay, one of the largest, most complex struggles in Israel’s history of environmental battles (during which we created a comprehensive database on Haifa industries). Though this issue is no longer a focus, we are still deeply committed to it and remain involved.

We did, however, launch a project addressing the acute problem of illegal waste incineration in several locales in the Galilee and the southern Triangle. Our goal was to help local residents implement a long-term solution for these illegal waste sites.

To identify the main obstacles and plan ahead, we met with senior professionals and elected officials in the relevant local authorities, and with national environmental officials. Then, to introduce the issue on as wide a scale as possible, we increased our presence in both digital and traditional (mainly Arab) media. We also established a national citizens’ forum on waste disposal issues, so that through them we could disseminate information, provide updates, and coordinate nation-wide processes. Planned, launched and due to continue well into 2018, are:

~A community action plan for the town of Kabul (jointly with several local organizations and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel).

~A Southern Triangle local activists group to work with local authorities and to conduct ongoing dialogue with residents and elected officials in the Jewish towns of the Sharon.

~A geographic mapping of fire hazards (in collaboration with students from Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geography).

~Taking legal action (in cooperation with the Environmental Justice Clinic at Tel Aviv University).

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CHANGING PUBLIC POLICY

Following the December 2016 oil refineries fire, CFE launched an investigation, discovering a series of major failures both before and during the incident. CFE also petitioned the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority to publicly release its
own findings, and engaged in diverse media activity to secure wide coverage of this issue. annual-sum-20175.png
Our ongoing efforts to close the ammonia tank in Haifa included national campaigns, both online and offline, and dozens of appearances on various media outlets. In additional to The Haifa Bay Struggle: Lessons for the Future symposium
(see additional details below), CFE published a series of articles in The Seventh Eye magazine and circulated professional data on the various uses of ammonia in Israel.
In June, we participated in the Israeli’s Knesset’s Environment Day activities, taking part in discussions annual-sum-20176.png
on air pollution, waste fires, the importance of transparency, and the ammonia tank.
And together with other social-change and environmental organizations,
we lobbied hard against the Justice Minister's initiative to impose  exorbitant fees on class actions.
 

 

 

 

IMPROVING CIVIL ENFORCEMENT

Improving enforcement in all matters relating to the environment is one of CFE’s flagship endeavors. This year, too, our efforts to assist residents in local environmental struggles included conducting legal proceedings to implement the pollutant principle and to increase environmental law enforcement.

The ruling in the class action filed by CFE against the Alcon plant finally concluded this year with a compromise calling for the plant to donate NIS 100,000 towards a community health-promotion project in Haifa Bay.

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We continued vigorously advancing the action filed by us against the Israel Railways Corporation in the aftermath of the bromine leak incident in southern Israel.

Throughout the year, CFE assisted and supported several residents groups in their individual struggles. Among these were:

~Shefa-ʻAmr (Shfaram): Filed an administrative petition who suffer from severe pollution caused by the municipal slaughterhouse. 

~Beit Jann: Helped the local action committee contest illegal antennas vis a vis both the installing companies and the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

~Arara: Filed an administrative petition against the Arara Local Council on the grounds of illegal management of a waste transit station that causes odor and pollution hazards in the neighborhood (in cooperation with the Clinic for Environmental Regulation at Bar-Ilan University).

~Kibbutz Evron: Continued to support the residents through the implementation of a 2016 Haifa District Court decision, which approved their petition and ordered the Asher and Mazra'a municipalities to eliminate waste fires in their jurisdiction.

~Peki'in: Continued to assist the local action committee oversee the implementation of the ruling calling for the closure of an illegal waste disposal transit station, and requiring the municipality to deal with village waste. We also supported another action committee that, for years, has been fighting odor hazards emanating from the Tevapost plant.

~The Sharon region: Following requests from residents in Netanya, the Sharon settlements and the southern Triangle, Jadida Makar, Shefa-‘Amr, and Kabul, CFE conducted patrols targeting waste and fire hazards.

In addition to all these, CFE sits on the committee established to facilitate dialogue between the Hod Assaf Industries steel plant and local residents. The committee’s proceedings, on which an external expert, senior Ministry of Environmental Protection representatives, and members of the Association of Towns also sit, meets to discuss claims against the plant, and has already led to stricter requirements and new work-stoppage procedures being imposed. Discussions continue.

 

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BOOSTING MEDIA PRESENCE

Change cannot happen without raising awareness, a process that must be ongoing and long-term.

Consequently, this year CFE contributed the following to the national debate:

*January 1, 2017: Mako website, an article by Furat Nassar on the Industrial Peace report.

*January 2017: Ma’ariv, an article entitled “Eventually, miracles run out” (following the refineries fire).

*February 16, 2017: Educational Televisiondiscussed emptying the ammonia tank on the Tik Tikshoret show.

*February 20, 2017: Kolbo newspaper, an article on the aftermath of the judicial decision to empty the Haifa Bay ammonia tank.

*February 23, 2017: Haaretzan op-ed by Adv. Avigdor Feldman on the contribution of environmental organizations to the ammonia tank decision.

*The Seventh Eye magazine: Ammonia for the Masses”, a series of articles published throughout the year on the ammonia tank debate.

*February 21, 2017: “The Hottest Place in Hell” websitea response to a The Marker op-ed questioning the role of industry in the Haifa Bay situation.

*March 8, 2017: Eco 99fm radio station, an International Women’s Day interview with CFE’s Co-Director.

*March 19, 2017: Tzafon 1 newspaper, an interview with CFE Co-Directors, Jameela Hardal Wakeem and Liora Amitai.

*March 26, 2017: “The Hottest Place in Hell” website, an article on the Haifa Bay campaign.

*The CFE website: marking Earth Day 2017 with a special article on the damage caused by waste dumps, both in Israel and elsewhere.

*April 30, 2017: “The Hottest Place in Hell” websitean article decrying the initiative to turn the petrochemical complex in Haifa Bay into an independent industrial council.

*September 12, 2017: Ha'aretz, an article and an on the Israel Nature and Parks Authority’s disregard for the Arabic language.

*November 21, 2017: Channel 10, an interview with CFE Co-Director Jameela Hardal Wakeem on CFE and its achievements.

 

REPORTS, SEMINARS, and LECTURES

~Our latest Industrial Peace report was published in January, and included a summary of the data collected between 2012 and 2016 on Haifa Bay’s largest plants. It unequivocally exposed: Unacceptable levels of pollutants; Zero reduction in hazardous material emissions; The occurrence of dozens of hazardous materials events

~Unlike the petrochemical complex in Haifa Bay, little attention had been given to the South Acre area to its north. As a result, there is a dearth of information on the source of its pollution. In 2016, we began collecting data, analyzing samples given to us by the authorities, and mapping the findings, completing the report in 2017. This entire process was funded by the Assaf Shani Research Fund via the Hod Industries steel plant, following the contempt procedure initiated by us in 2015.

Our rising public profile on environmental issues is bearing fruit: CFE was invited to lecture at the 4th Annual Conference on Community 

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Health, held by the Center for Health Leadership. We also conducted a joint seminar on “The Haifa Bay Struggle: Lessons for the Future” with Prof. Alon Tal, Chair of the Department of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University (participants included the Technion’s

Prof. Ehud Keinan and Nobel laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman), And published “Harnessing the Precautionary Principle in Environmental Battles” in the journal of the Israeli Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.

 

   …And What’s Next

The last months of 2017 saw CFE begin an internal discussion on its future direction, including the preparation of a new three-year strategic plan. A summary of both the process and the plan will be presented at the next general meeting and then published on the CFE website.

Our work is not over. There is a great deal yet to be done, but we are proud not only of our efforts and accomplishments of the past year, but also enormously grateful and thankful to the ever-growing community of volunteers, partners, funders, supporters and friends who understand the importance and urgency of environmental enforcement, and the effect it will have on thousands of Israelis. This is our opportunity to thank them for their dedication and support throughout the past year.

Our mission, after all, is a joint one: to create a healthy and sustainable Jewish-Arab shared environment

in Israel and, through it, a healthier and better future for the next generation.

 

 

 

 

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אתם כאן: דף הבית English Annual Report 2017