Saturday, March 12, 2022

  • Saturday, March 12, 2022
  • Elder of Ziyon
From J Weekly:

The national environmental nonprofit Sierra Club, headquartered in Oakland, has canceled its scheduled trips to Israel in response to pressure from progressive and anti-Zionist groups.

The decision came after activists alleged the organization was “greenwashing the conflict” and “providing legitimacy to the Israeli state, which is engaged in apartheid against the Palestinian people,” a volunteer leader with the nonprofit summarized in an email this week.

News of the Sierra Club’s decision came in a mass email obtained by J. that was sent out by Mary Owens, the chair of the Sierra Club’s National Outings team, to hundreds of volunteers who lead part-recreational, part-educational, conservation-focused trips around the world.

For years the Sierra Club, established in 1960, has offered trips to Israel to explore the country’s biodiversity, bird migrations, desert landscape and ancient ruins. Last year’s trip was called “Natural and Historical Highlights of Israel,” offered for two weeks in March for about $5,000 per person. It advertised a “comprehensive journey through this enduring land,” with birdwatching, sea snorkeling, a visit to the Dead Sea and evenings on a kibbutz. Sierra Club outings are a major source of fundraising for the organization.

The email from Owens, who said she was not authorized to speak to the press, described the Sierra Club’s decision to cancel its trips — one scheduled for this month, and another for March 2023 — as the result of an advocacy push from one “Jewish American activist” and a host of both progressive and anti-Zionist groups, including the pro-Palestinian Adalah Justice Project, the Indigenous rights group the NDN Collective, the Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Sunrise Movement and the Movement for Black Lives.

The email from Owens read: “On January 20, the board of directors received an email from a Jewish American activist urging us to cancel our upcoming trips to Israel (scheduled for March 15 and 29, 2022 and March 2023), saying that we are greenwashing the conflict there and providing legitimacy to the Israeli state, which is engaged in apartheid against the Palestinian people.”

The board notified Owens and the National Outings team, which “sent our standard response which states that we don’t restrict our trips due to regional conflicts or politics,” Owens wrote. “The activist was not satisfied and said he planned to get additional activist groups involved.

“On February 22, the board received an email from a coalition of activist organizations … threatening that if we did not cancel the upcoming trips within a week, they would go public that the organization was violating the organizational values it recently rolled out.”

Acting executive director Dan Chu, the email said, “appointed a group to handle the response” and notified Israel trip leaders.

The special group appointed by Chu met with the progressive activists, the email said, “who insisted that there was no room for compromise and reiterated their demand that we cancel the trips by March 7.”

The group “spent the next few days reviewing the pros and cons of each outcome,” Owens wrote, adding: “the National Outings team did not want to cancel the trips.”

In the end, two members of the group appointed by Chu recommended that he cancel the trips, “and he agreed,” Owens wrote.  
The Sierra Club is freely admitting that it caved to threats from BDSers. There was no decision based on Israel's supposed policies: it was to stop the haters from blackmailing them with threats of making a big publicity stink.

This is hardly a moral response by the Sierra Club. It is pure cowardice. It caved to haters and violated its own policies not to let politics enter into these kinds of decisions.

And it deserves to receive at least as much criticism for being so spineless to professional antisemites as it would have gotten from the haters. 

It looks like they cancelled three trips. Here was what the Sierra Club Israel trips page looked like last week; it has now been taken down.



UPDATE: The Sierra Club has a planned trip to China this coming October. Their description of the country is glowing.









Read all about it here!



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