May 23, 2013  By Jewish National Fund  Category: Environment,

The Tal Fund - Protecting Israel's Land

Our connection as Jews is to the land of Israel – her history and beauty.  Because her environment is so fragile and she is so small in size, it is important that we take care of her by paying careful attention that any development on her precious grounds is thoughtful and sustainable.

Since its inception in 2007, the JNF/ KKL Tal Fund for environmental activism has funded over 40 local and national environmental initiatives by supporting grassroots environmental organizations and community groups in Israel.  The Fund has proved itself to be a nimble and effective player in many of the country’s key environmental campaigns, supporting efforts that have saved beaches and parks, prevented air and water pollution, strengthened civil society and led to more responsible environmental policies.

Though there are too many programs that have been supported by the Tal Fund to name, the following are some of the successful initiatives that have been funded over the past several years:

•    Preserving Sasgon Valley: This pristine corner of the greater Timna region has been zoned for a resort development including numerous hotel buildings, boat canals and attractions. Citizens from the Arava organized a campaign to prevent citing of hotel in this area proposing alternative locations. The campaign included legal action, appearances before the Southern Planning and Building Commission, etc.

•    Moving Away from Coal-fired Electricity: In 2011 a grant was made to Green Course, a national student network, to support their efforts to lobby the government and Israel’s National Planning and Building Commission to opt for a new power plant in Ashkelon based on low carbon fuels as the default source of energy. The campaign was successful and the power station is to be based on natural gas.

In the upcoming year, The Tal Fund hopes to be able to support many new initiatives including the Coastal Protection Initiative.  This program will involve three campaigns -

•    Protecting the Tel Baruch Beach area (which is the last natural corner of Tel Aviv) from a plan to develop it into an extensive commercial urban park

•    Protecting the Nitsanim Coastal Park from a proposed plan to set up an industrial area for the city of Ashdod

•    Protecting the Betset coast near Nahariyah from a tourist resort that was approved decades ago, before the shortage in coastline became clear.

There are so few pristine areas left in Israel - we believe it is of the utmost important to approach every new development project with a critical eye towards sustainability.  Our commitment to the Tal Fund supports Israel's concerned citizens and encourages them to do the same by getting involved!