Zionism in Service of Fossil Fuel Extraction

Palestinian children play in a polluted stream contaminated by wastewater from Ariel settlement, Bruqin, West Bank. (Photo: EWASH-OPT)

By Dan Fischer

With Israel branding itself as a model of environmental sustainability, many overlook the Zionist lobby’s support for extreme fossil fuel extraction in North America, from fracking to offshore drilling.

Historically, Israel has helped the US secure the flow of oil from the Middle East. In 1958, the US National Security Council stated, “if we choose to combat radical Arab nationalism and to hold Persian Gulf oil by force if necessary, a logical corollary would be to support Israel as the only strong pro-West power left in the Near East.” Now, pro-Israel organizations defend North America’s own energy flows.

Zionist leaders have gone so far as to form an alliance with oil and gas drillers. Named the Council for a Secure America, it has been hailed as potentially “one of the most significant coalitions in our industry” by the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association.

“Increasing Domestic Production”

With a board of directors including Samuel Eizenstat, a former vice-president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Malcolm Hoenlein, vice-chairperson of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the group claims that “increasing domestic production of oil and natural gas” can succeed in “reducing the leverage” of oil-producing countries and “strengthening our ally Israel.” The group’s website endorses the United States-Israel Energy Collaboration Enhancement Bill to promote collaboration between the US and Israel on natural gas extraction.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee also supports increased extraction. Their 2013 energy policy memo approvingly notes, “As natural gas continues to grow in prominence in the global economy, the United States and Israel are positioned to play a leading role”.

While tens of thousands of people gathered at the White House in February to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline—designed to bring highly polluting tar sands oil from Canada into the US—the American Jewish Committee was busy lobbying for the project’s approval. In an April press release, the Committee’s director David Harris argued the pipeline was “important for U.S. energy security” and it was “time to say ‘yes’ to the project”.

The American Jewish Committee also campaigns for “on and offshore drilling,” “hydraulic fracturing,” “clean coal and nuclear energy” and “free trade agreements” that undo environmental regulations.

“Environmental Extremists”

When they’re not advocating fossil fuel extraction, Zionist groups sometimes take aim directly at environmental activists. For example, the Anti-Defamation League, which claims to combat “anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry,” also spends some of its time monitoring peaceful environmental groups.

Its “Extremism in America” database lists several environmental groups including Earth First! and Earth Liberation Front. Despite trying to smear these groups, the database acknowledged, “no one has yet been injured” by America’s environmental movement. The ADL trained the New York Police Department in 2008 on how to respond to “environmental extremists, anarchists, and anti-globalization extremists.”

With the help of the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security has monitored peaceful anti-fracking activists. The Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletin for August 2010, written by ITRR, labelled anti-fracking activists as “extremists” and documented their intention to attend public hearings and screen a documentary.

According to its website, the ITRR’s “Israeli and American experts provide counter-terrorism training seminars … Israeli training techniques have been field tested and proven and our instructors have employed them successfully in some of the most tactically active units in Israel.”

 “Throw a Gelignite Bomb”

When America’s pro-Israel groups rally support for fossil fuel interests, there is no conspiracy at work. These groups simply follow the philosophy of political Zionism’s founder Theodore Herzl, who advocated domination of nature and subservience to Western imperial powers. It is no surprise that an equally subservient media and political culture welcome Herzl’s message.

In his 1896 book The Jewish State, Herzl indicated a clear willingness to subjugate Palestine’s environment. “Supposing, for example, we were obliged to clear a country of wild beasts … we would organize a large and active hunting party, drive the animals together, and throw a gelignite bomb in their midst,” he wrote.

Palestinians today face a disproportionate share of environmental hazards, from Israeli industrial zones near West Bank villages to raw sewage flooding Gaza’s streets. Within Israel, Palestinians comprise the vast majority of households not connected to any sewage system, and the untreated sewage sometimes flows into people’s streets or pollutes streams.

In the same book, Herzl famously described his planned state as “a portion of a rampart of Europe against Asia,” foreshadowing Israel’s role in policing energy flows for Western interests. US Senator Henry Jackson stated in 1973 that Israel “served to inhibit and contain those irresponsible and radical elements in certain Arab states, who, were they free to do so, would pose a grave threat indeed to our principal sources of petroleum in the Persian Gulf.”

Since 1967, Israel repeatedly reinforced Washington’s control over Middle Eastern oil. In the 1967 War, Israel crushed Egypt’s subversive Nasser regime, which advocated “Arab Oil for Arab People” and hosted the First Arab Petroleum Congress. In 1970, Israel helped produce Syria’s withdrawal from Jordan, accelerating Arab nationalism’s decline.

In the 1980s, Israel acted as a US proxy and sold weapons to Iran. Israeli Ambassador Moshe Arens explained the goal was to establish contact with the Iranian military and try to eventually overthrow the Khomeini regime, which had nationalized Iran’s oil industry. In the Gulf War, Israel provided the US with bombs and desert boots, helping contain a situation where Iraq could threaten Saudi Arabia’s oil fields.

“All Elements of Our Power”

Speaking before the UN this past September, President Obama reiterated Washington’s willingness to “use all elements of our power, including military force” to secure “core interests” in the Middle East. Specifically, he promised to “ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world.”

Obama and the business class also accelerate the exploitation of North America’s resource colonies, plundering Black Mesa and central Appalachia’s coal, the Marcellus Shale’s natural gas, Alberta’s tar sands and the Rocky Mountains’ oil shale.

With the global grow-or-die economy depleting fuel reserves and destabilizing the climate, military planners expect increased conflict and warfare in coming years. Many governments and corporations already look to Israel for weapons, technology and counterinsurgency trainings. After all, Israel has developed an expertise in repressing populations. It will be increasingly crucial for social movements to take a principled stand against oppression and colonialism, including Zionism.

– Dan Fischer is a math tutor and community organizer living in Connecticut. He is a member of Capitalism vs. the Climate and the Middle East Crisis Committee. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

1 Comment

  1. When America is independent from Mideast oil, they won’t need to spend billions on their land based aircraft carrier USS Tel Aviv.
    A carbon based energy argument with Israel needs to be taken. A concrete issue is Zionist occupation of gas fields off Palestine’s coast.
    Worry not about Black Helicopters and dissident control. There are to many anti-frackers in Vermont alone for them to start mass violation of civil rights.

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