"While Israel is widely credited with being at the cutting edge of thrifty water use techniques, such as drip irrigation and wastewater treatment and reuse, and with having 'miraculously' greened the desert, less widely acknowledged is the fact that they destroyed the lower Jordan river system, the Dead Sea and the Coastal Aquifer while they were doing it."~ Professor Alice Gray.
|Postcard with photograph of a JNF "Land Donation" certificate, designed by Ranzenhofer. With a Jewish New Year greeting in Hebrew and German, and a short explanation of donations for land acquisition. Printed in 1912, sent from Vienna in 1914.|
Tal recounts the haphazardness of Zionist Israel’s urban growth, the lack of coherent transport policies and the adoption of car-based suburban development models which, today, people see are wrong for the United States, and all the more wrong for Israel, a country the size of New Jersey.
|“The ‘green lungs’ of Israel have been created as part of the colonization of the country and the dispossession of the Palestinian people — and not out of care for ecology and nature.”|
But even more than chronicling Israel’s environmental journey, PIAPL is a history of Zionism – the fantasy of the Jewish people’s return to its " ancient homeland" – told from an unusual but critically important standpoint. For Tal brings out how the early Zionist pioneers were in love with the romance of the Land of Israel, but largely clueless as to its physical reality.
Intoxicated by biblical accounts of the landscape, the actual mountains, rivers, flora, fauna and diarrhoea -inducing diet were initially strange and alien to the early pioneers. Among many literary testimonies, Tal quotes Amos Oz’s description of his grandfather:
My grandfather lived in the land of Israel forty-five years and never was in the Galilee or went south to the Negev. … But the land of Israel he loved with all his soul, and he wrote love poems in her honor (in Russian).”In this framing, the history of Zionism has been a tragic-comic epic of the Jewish people learning how to live in the topographical and ecological reality of the "homeland" that it never knew.
|“The people are asleep; when they die they will wake up...”|