Environmentalists Reverse Course on Israel Boycott

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March 16, 2022

The environmentalist group Sierra Club has reversed course after it faced backlash for buckling to a left-wing pressure campaign that convinced the organization to cancel scheduled trips to Israel. In an equivocating statement that suggested trips to Israel had not been canceled in the first place, the group announced Tuesday it will return Israel trips to its schedule of outings for this year.

"The Sierra Club hastily made a decision, without consulting a robust set of stakeholders, to postpone two planned outings to Israel," executive director Dan Chu said in a statement. "We intend to update our schedule soon to offer new outings to Israel later this year."

The Sierra Club announced last week that it had given in to a radical anti-Israel pressure campaign to end the organization's recreational conservation trips to Israel. Left-wing groups including Jewish Voice for Peace, the Sunrise Movement, and the Movement for Black Lives accused the environmentalists of "providing legitimacy to the Israeli state, which is engaged in apartheid against the Palestinian people," and threatened to "go public" if the Sierra Club did not promptly cancel the trips.

While the Sierra Club made clear in a mass email that it had canceled the Israel trips to comply with the activists' demands, Chu claimed in his latest statement that they had merely "postpone[d]" the trips.

Chu, as the Jewish News of Northern California reported, had in fact appointed a special group to address the activists' ultimatum and then agreed with two of its members' recommendation to cancel the trips.

Chu also took steps in his statement to distance the Sierra Club from anti-Semitism. The groups that forced the organization to cancel its Israel trips have faced accusations of engaging in anti-Semitism through their activism. The Sunrise Movement, for instance, in October backed out of a rally because of the participation of two Jewish pro-Israel groups, but it did not object to the participation of non-Jewish pro-Israel groups in the same rally.

"We have and always will continue to loudly condemn anti-Semitism and any and all acts of hate," Chu said. "We are committed to working more intentionally, thoroughly, and thoughtfully so we can prevent this from happening again."