Although there is burgeoning research on environmental activism, few studies have examined the interrelationship between nationalism and nature protection in detail. This article examines how groups manage the tension between national commitment and caring for the environment. It focuses on two opposing Israeli activist groups: a settler movement that aims to establish new communities in the fast-dwindling Israeli open expanses and a “green” movement intent on preserving open spaces. Our observations, interviews, and textual analysis show that both groups believe themselves to be committed to the protection of nature, and that both groups see environmental responsibility as an integral aspect of their Zionist identity. However, the Israeli green movement sees abstaining from interventions in nature and adhering to sustainable development as Zionist because it preserves Israel for future generations. Conversely, the settler movement sees active intervention in nature—by building new communities, planting trees, and hiking—as the proper way to protect Israeli natural expanses and to maintain the livelihood of Israeli society. Our case study demonstrates that, although environmental movements often aspire to universalism, local movements also interlace environmentalism and nationalism in ways that generate multiple (and even contradictory) interpretations of the appropriate way to care for nature.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science