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September 25, 1992 - Image 177

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-09-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

A floral clock in front of the Knesset.

Cleaning Up

Israel has become a leader
in the international
environmental movement.

USAN SOLOMON

pecial to the Jewish News

hen it comes to
"The 10 Command-
ments of En-
ironmental Consciousness"
Israel is again the chosen peo-
ple, having recently received
Tewsweek magazine's award
for the country with the top
environmental standards
among the 30 examined.
But Uri Marinow, director
general of the Ministry of the
Environment, isn't sure these
,c ommandments have been
obeyed. "Rapid population
growth has intensified
pressure to exploit resources
without properly safeguar-
'ding the environment," said
Marinov at the recent UN
Conference on Environment
and Development in Rio de
Janeiro.
"Environmentally sound
development can be achieved,
environmental degradation
can be arrested, damaged

areas can be restored, but
good intentions are not good
enough. What we lack is an
international organization
which can implement plans
for environmental action."
Nonetheless, according to
Shoshana Gabbay, editor of
a
Israel Environment,
quarterly publication produc-
ed by the Ministry of En-
vironmental Affairs, Israel
has "grown up" environmen-
tally since the inception of
the ministry in 1988. "In the
last few years alone," she says,
"we've attracted 27,000
volunteers to aid in the en-
forcement of cleanliness
laws."
Instituted in the 1980s, the
laws include a provision to
care for the environment, us-
ing the common citizen as a
trustee. For example, enrolled
trustees have the right to
record the license number of
someone they see throwing
trash out their car window. A
fine is sent through the mail
and the litterbug must either

pay or dispute in court. About
1,000 tickets have been
issued monthly since the
law's inception.
Dalia Magnet, director of
the recently inaugurated
Center for Environmental
Studies, headquartered in
Jerusalem, agrees with Gab-
bay's assessment of Israel's
latest achievements. "In the
first years of statehood, the
country was busy with its ex-
istence," says Ms. Magnet.
"Later, it earned the luxury
of going into the quality of its
existence."
The Council for a Beautiful
Israel operates the new CBI
Center for Environmental
Studies, to improve en-
vironmental awareness and
commitment in Israel. Ac-
tivities include classes rang-
ing from landscape gardening
to instructing teachers in col-
or and aesthetics. "These
elements are sure to con-
tribute to a more attractive
environment," says Ms.
Magnet. And just looking at

the country's streets, gardens
and sculptures, one can see a
major improvement in the
aesthetic quality of life.
"Many of the current pro-
grams were the brainchild of
Aura Herzog, wife of Presi-
dent Chaim Herzog," says Ms.
Magnet. As international
head of the Council for a
Beautiful Israel, she initiated
environmental awareness
programs for industry, the
military and schools.
The center's annual in-
dustrial competition com-
pares the aesthetic quality of
factory working en-
vironments countrywide, in-
cluding how visually pleasing
and comfortable the eating
areas are and if work stations
are clean and attractive. Win-
ners receive newspaper
publicity, certificates, medals
and an invitation to an award
ceremony.
A similar competition is
held annually between 270
army bases. "The educational
conferences we hold with base,

commanders explain and
reinforce the importance of
aesthetic surroundings for
the soldiers' psychological
well-being," says Tzipa Porat,
a program coordinator at CBI.
School programs for 12- to
14-year olds challenge
students to formulate a solu-
tion to various environmental
problems within the context
of a case analysis. Says Eli It-
zhaki, administrative director
of CBI, "We want to en-
courage Israelis to be more
environmentally aware and
the way to do that is to start
them thinking about en-
vironmental issues at a young
age."
According to the ministry's
Uri Marinov, environmental
awareness is only the first
step. "We must take an active
part in affirmative programs
and continue to support
educational and interna-
tional endeavors. These will
serve as a catalyst for en-
vironmental improve-
ment." ❑

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