‘More sun to you, Israel!’

By Yosef I. Abramowitz/JNS.org

Click photo to download. Caption: A photovoltaic array at the National Solar Energy Center, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, in the Negev Desert of Israel. Credit: David Shankbone.

JERUSALEM—The perpetuation of a world powered by oil is one of the most anti-Jewish actions imaginable. A world that resists transitioning quickly from oil to renewables is a world that feeds the Iranian nuclear program, promotes radical whabbiism in Saudi Arabia and around the world, accelerates extreme climate change, pollutes our air, distorts world policy against Israel, and sends American and other troops off to bloody and expensive wars in Iraq and elsewhere.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has challenged us all to imagine a world without oil and has set up within his office a special bureau investing in oil substitute strategies.

Theodor Herzl imagined the future state of the Jews running on renewables, through an ambitious hydroelectric program linking the Mediterranean and Dead seas. David Ben Gurion, recognizing the power of the sun, envisioned that all hot water and electricity in Israel were going to be produced by solar power.

With 60 percent of the country’s land consisting of desert, Israel could be the first major economy to be powered by the sun. Research funds should be invested into battery storage technologies to accelerate the adoption of grid-scale storage of green power for nighttime use.

Thomas Friedman writes convincingly that the new natural gas finds in the United States should be viewed as a transitional phase in our economy, bridging the era of coal and oil to that of solar and other renewables. This is also true for Israel, an energy island. Israel’s offshore natural gas finds, if used properly, can provide the windfall necessary to build a national renewable energy infrastructure.

Let’s face it: There is only one reason to attempt to justify drilling on Israel’s historic lands, pumping chemicals into the ground above a water aquifer, heating it up to 350 degrees Celsius for three years (at a huge energy expense) and pumping dirty shale oil out. That reason is greed, pure and simple.

Advocates of fracking will try to mask their greed with arguments for energy independence. But Israel is blessed with enough clean natural resources that we don’t need oil. Energy independence is possible and supremely preferable without fracking. And with nearly every automaker coming out with electric vehicles, even our transportation can be driven by renewables.

For Israel to take part in perpetuating the world's oil-based economy is a betrayal of our values and ultimately threatens our existence as a country and of the world. Our founding fathers understood that God has granted us a land blessed with clean natural resources that can promote energy independence while providing a model to the rest of the world to kick their addiction to oil.

As we approach the High Holidays, we need to realize that fracking in Israel is a sin fueled by greed. The sun could power the country by day, and the natural gas finds by night. Green energy storage technologies could soon power the country at night as well.

Yosef I. Abramowitz

The “start-up nation” should not succumb to the 20th century oil fantasies of a handful of Jewish investors from abroad. Through clear thinking, innovation, moral and political will and a clear vision while standing up to greed, green-tech investors and Israel should unite in rejecting fracking, embracing solar and become, finally, a renewable light unto the nations.

Yosef I. Abramowitz, named by CNN as one of the world’s leading Green Pioneers, promotes solar energy in Israel and Africa and has, along with his wife Rabbi Susan Silverman, accepted Naomi Tsur’s invitation to run for Jerusalem City Council on a green, inclusive list. He can be followed on Twitter @kaptainsunshine.

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Posted on August 26, 2013 and filed under Israel, Opinion.