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Sierra Club Reverses Decision to Cancel Trips to Israel

Sierra Club Reverses Decision to Cancel Trips to Israel

Thursday, 17 March, 2022 - 10:15

The Sierra Club reversed its decision to cancel trips to Israel, saying it was "hastily" made and did not accord with the conservation group's mission.

"Recently, the Sierra Club hastily made a decision, without consulting a robust set of stakeholders, to postpone two planned outings to Israel," said the Club.

Earlier, the organization announced it was canceling environmental-tourism trips to Israel because of its actions against the Palestinians.

In a Tuesday statement, the Club confirmed new Israel trips would be announced later this year, saying earlier decision to cancel tours was made in ways that created "confusion, anger, and frustration."

The head of Sierra Club's National Outings, Mary Owens, confirmed in a previous mass email to hundreds of volunteers and members that trips were canceled saying the decision came after activists alleged the foundation was "greenwashing the conflict" and "providing legitimacy to the Israeli state, which is engaged in apartheid against the Palestinian people."

"Greenwashing" is a term used by anti-Israel activists that accuse the Jewish state of using environmental causes to disguise alleged human rights violations.

The Sierra Club Foundation, founded by John Muir in 1892, is a charitable foundation concerned with nature, with over 750,000 members and an annual budget for the current year of more than $97 million.

Its first trip to Israel began in 1960 to explore biodiversity, bird migrations, desert landscapes, and ancient monuments. Last year's trip was called "Natural and Historical Highlights of Israel," offered for two weeks in March for about $5,000 per person.

More than 250 upcoming trips are listed on Sierra Club's website, including more than 200 to sites in the US and others to places like Malaysia, Nepal, and Antarctica.

The email sent from Owens stated that the Club's decision was taken after a campaign 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.

An employee confirmed he was aware of his organization's efforts but was not authorized to say more. A request for comment from JVP, the Jewish anti-Zionist group, went unanswered.

The decision sparked outrage in Israel, particularly against Jewish Voice for Peace, which has been working in the United States since 1996.

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