For many years environmentalist groups have promoted planting trees as a way to help clean the air and (more recently) to combat human-induced climate change. Yet, oddly enough, the University of Pennsylvania’s green group Fossil Free Penn recently hosted a talk on environmental racism.
The lecture was conducted by two anonymous speakers from two other Leftist groups: Students for Justice in Palestine and the United Minorities Council. The UPenn campus periodical The Statesman details the content of the event:
In discussing environmental racism, the speakers highlighted the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Jewish National Fund, an organization that plants trees in Israel, was a major subject of discussion. After asserting that the organization acted unjustly by purchasing land from Palestinians in the early 1900s in deals from which the Palestinians did not profit, the presenters looked into the symbolism of “making the desert bloom,” a phrase the students argued connected the forest environment to whiteness, evoked the notion of “a vacuum that the European savior can come nourish,” and ultimately incentivized “artificially making these areas look more like Europe.”
The students found a particular problem in the planting of pine trees in Israel and the West Bank, drawing a “connection between pine trees, forestation, and the way they further the colonialist agenda through capitalistic (sic) means of timber production.”
While pine trees are an invasive species and can be bad for certain environments, the solution is not merely to plant native trees like the olive tree.
“If we are talking about environmental justice, we have to consider intersectionality,” one of the presenters said. “We have to consider the way that different environmental agendas are being used in order to romanticize and support things that may be in violation of human rights and ancestry rights.” Additionally, the students urged the audience to “look for the complexity in the way that issues are whitewashed.”
Fossil Free Penn hosted an event to single out an Israeli group’s tree planting efforts in order to make the case to not only indirectly condemn Israel but also condemn Jews. In essence, the green group decided to host a forum to not only condemn Israel but also promote anti-Semitism.
University of Pennsylvania and Fossil Free Penn have now earned the reputation as being the outlets that teaches students that Jews need not apply when it comes to planting trees.
PHOTO CREDIT: Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Rev. Jesse Jackson when Jackson ran for President in 1988. Jackson is a notorious anti-Semite who once called New York City hymietown.