Despite outlining my topics for this column months ago, the events this summer in Israel have lead me to change course and address a critical issue that, although related to environmental sustainability and our use (or misuse) of natural resources, more closely aligns with our sustainability as a people.
For weeks I’ve been sifting through posts, articles and comments about the nightmare our Israeli brothers and sisters are living through as well as the critique of America’s duplicitous stance with regard to Israel’s need for self-defense and castigation over “disproportionate response” due to civilian deaths. I’ve watched and read in horror of the accounts of anti-Israel and anti-Jew rallies both in the U.S. and abroad, accompanied by varying degrees of hostilities and violence. And with growing trepidation, I have been reading about the growing threat of the Islamic State, as it pillages its way through the Middle East.
Which got me thinking: How do these violent, murderous factions wield so much power and demand so much attention? Why does the U.S. continue to bend in any direction to appease them, send them money and demand one-sided concessions?
It cannot be ignored that a primary reason for the continued involvement in the Middle East and tolerance toward tyrannical leadership is oil. Our dependence on oil hinders our ability to maintain foreign policies that adhere to our country’s values, creates double standards and compromises our ability to offer unwavering support to the only democracy in the Middle East. Instead, we capitulate to the true violators of peaceful coexistence, allowing fanatical militants to remain in control, amassing resources for themselves and thus keeping their populations in abject poverty.
With our modern technology and industrial ingenuity, there is absolutely no need for our dependence on foreign oil. Yet, we continue to purchase barrels of crude oil pumped out of the ground in war-torn countries led by people who call for our destruction. We then pay to have that oil shipped half way around the world, expend even more (dirty) energy to refine it for use, then dispense to the public using — basically — the same technology that was invented over 125 years ago.
After so much war and bloodshed with this “overseas investment,” how is there not a plan in place to stop our energy dependence from these sources? Is the “cheap” price of oil worth the real cost of keeping terrorists in power and preventing the more expeditious implementation of alternative energy sources? Our vehicles, factories and businesses should be utilizing energy that can be extracted and distributed domestically, contributing to a home-grown economic boom and jobs.
Communities of faith and conscience have begun weaning themselves off conventional fuel sources and are seeking alternative choices, but Jewish participation is noticeably absent. Foreign oil dependence threatens our security as a nation and as a people; the Jewish community should be the leading advocates for this change. Rather than pushing for economical severance from the source of the problem, our complacency is quite literally supporting our enemies.
It’s time to demand that our organizations lead by example and take a strong stance against our financial investment and dependence on foreign oil, which will diminish the power that these countries wield and, in turn, diminish the violence.
Aleeza Oshry is a local geologist, educator and sustainability consultant.