Israeli eco-activist and student Roey Angel answers questions
With what environmental organization are you affiliated?
I’m a graduate student at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, a regional center for academic studies and research. It’s a rather unique place where Palestinians, Israelis, and Jordanians — as well as North Americans and Europeans — study the environment, live together, and do joint research.
I also spent five years working at Green Action, an eco-social NGO based in Tel Aviv.
What are you working on at the moment?
For my research, I’m involved in a joint Palestinian-Israeli project for trans-boundary watershed modeling and restoration strategies. I wanted to do scientific research, but it’s also very important for me to make an impact on the environmental issue. To add to that, I’m a great believer in practical cooperation between people as a lever for peace, so I’m always excited about joint projects in the Middle East.
I truly believe that peace between Israelis and the Palestinians will emerge when we tightly weave together the fabric of our lives.
How do you get to work?
Right now, I live about 100 steps from my workplace — that’s because I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to live and do part of my degree in the lovely campus community of Midreshet Ben-Gurion at Sede Boqer. Before coming here, I spent my life in the Tel Aviv metropolis where I relied on nothing but my bike to get to work as well as everywhere else. I’m a great supporter of bike commuting.
What’s your environmental vice?
My lab work; let’s not talk about it.
How do you spend your free time? Read any good books lately?
I’ve recently read The Web of Life; it’s an amazing work by Fritjof Capra, a physicist taking physical and biological theories and discoveries to create a holistic and almost spiritual perspective on our global ecosystem.
What’s your favorite meal?
Being a vegan in Israel, I crave the fresh fruit and vegetables we have here, yet there’s nothing like the divine hummus they sell in Jaffa.
Which stereotype about environmentalists most fits you?
Last fall, I spent some time doing an internship in Burlington, Vt. It freaked me out when people kept saying that I’m like a typical Burlington Vermonter: a young vegan and radical environmental and peace activist with dreadlocks.
What’s your favorite place or ecosystem?
The desert — no questions about it. I was born in the coastal Mediterranean part of Israel, but I was always attracted and amazed by the desert. The desert to me is more versatile in landscape and experience than any other place in the world. There’s a deep and immediate connection to the earth, to the bare rock that you just can’t find in other places. The harsh conditions and the untamable nature of the land give me a sense of humility, and I’m truly glad that the megalomaniac Zionist project to “green” the desert failed.
If you could institute by fiat one environmental reform, what would it be?
Contemplating between the car and the meat industry, I go for the meat. It’s where I started my political life, and I still think that the animal-farm industry is the cruelest and most immoral industry — and also one of the most environmentally destructive. For these reasons, I hope to see that industry disappear. I think it would be a step forward for humanity.
If you could have every InterActivist reader do one thing, what would it be?
Go vegan! No wait … sell your car … or curb your consumption. Or start an urban food garden. Actually, just try to be a good person and minimize your impact on this planet.