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Dear AJDS members and supporters,
We hope that you have enjoyed a very festive eight days of Hanukkah as we look towards the summer holiday season and new year.

In this regard, we thought it fitting to focus this edition of Just Voices on 'Sustainable Futures', looking at our impact on the environment and the ways in which we can effect policy changes through our informed engagement with these matters. In this issue, we will explore some environmental concerns close to home, such as foresting causing the extinction of Victoria's emblem native possum and permaculture as a sustainable practice as well as look at the Beyond Zero Emissions energy plan and the Jewish National Fund's (JNF-KKL) role in Palestinian land appropriation and in causing lasting environmental damage in Israel.
Just Voices is an open forum for discussion and if you would like to contribute to future editions, we welcome you to contact us at:
We wish you all a very happy holiday season, and we hope that all our members and readers have a relaxing and thoughtful summer break.

The Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS)

Happy Hanukkah from the AJDS

Image by The Pure Pantry

Just Voices - The Environment Issue -
'Sustainable Futures'

Presenting Climate Solutions

BZE guests Ross Garnaut and Tony Windsor survey the solar field of one of Spain's solar thermal power stations from the tower.
By David Rothfield
Until Beyond Zero Emissions’ (BZE’s) first research report in mid-2010, no-one had demonstrated that Australia could be powered reliably by 100% renewable energy with near zero emissions. Not even the Rudd government knew. 
So the fossil fuel lobby’s claims that renewable energy couldn’t supply base-load power, that it was unaffordable, would cost jobs and wreck the economy was broadly accepted, even by some environmentalists.
July 2010 saw the launch of BZE’s Stationary Energy Plan. For over two years BZE researchers, in collaboration with Melbourne University’s Energy Research Institute, worked on the Plan, which convincingly demonstrated how a mix of technologies already commercially deployed elsewhere in the world, could power Australia reliably, exclusively from renewable sources.

Prior to its official launch, I became aware of this Plan and became an enthusiastic supporter. I undertook a BZE-run speaker-training course to learn about the Zero Carbon Australia project and join the cadre of BZE presenters delivering talks about their work.

Continue reading here.

The JNF-KKL and the Politics of Planting

Image by Dror Feitelson via the PikiWiki - Israel free image collection project

By Ruth Edmonds
In 1948, when hearing of the massacres by Zionist militias in Deir Yassin, the residents of al Walaja, a village located between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, fled their land across the valley to wait out the fighting in caves and small structures. Almost 70 years later and the original site of their village is now covered in non-native pine trees and named the John F Kennedy Forest. It is run by the Jewish National Fund (in Hebrew Keren Kayimet L'Yisrael) JNF-KKL which oversees 13 percent of state lands, 2.5 million dunams (625,000 acres‏) and is not subject to oversight by the state comptroller or the treasury.  

The JNF credits itself with planting 250 million trees, building more than 210 reservoirs and dams, developing more than 250,000 acres of land, creating more than 1000 parks and providing the infrastructure for more than 1000 communities throughout Israel. "Suiting a state constructed for a single cultural-religious group, the JNF promotes an exclusionary and discriminatory brand of environmentalism," according to journalist and activist Ben Lorber.  The JNF’s constitution has explicitly stated that its land cannot be rented, leased, sold to or worked by non-Jews. 
Continue reading here.

Permaculture - Informed by Ancient Culture


Diagram by Graham Burnett
By Brett Nathan
Permaculture is a design method focused on agriculturally productive systems. The word ‘permaculture’ is a portmanteau of ‘permanent agriculture’, and was conceived in 1978 by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in Tasmania with the publication of Bill’s book Permaculture One. The text was the result of their research into the sustainability of traditional cultures from around the globe, with a focus on practices of cultures that co-exist with nature. This was in stark contrast to a fossil fuel hungry modern civilization, less than two centuries old and already wreaking devastating environmental havoc.
Through this study they saw a beacon of hope. By observing natural systems and recognizing their patterns and interactions we can start to mimic nature. If we can recognize the patterns that nature wants to use, we can interact and perhaps reduce the distance between what we consume and where it is produced. Working with nature, in this grassroots sense, is more efficient than industrial processes.

Continue reading here.

Reflex Paper Threat to Melbourne's Mountain Ash and a Unique Possum

By Danya Jacobs
Victoria's faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum, was thought to be extinct until the tiny marsupial was rediscovered in 1961 in the giant Mountain Ash forests that encircle Melbourne's eastern suburbs and blanket the Yarra and Thompson river catchments.  
These forests, often referred to as the Central Highlands, are also home to the tallest ever-recorded trees in Australia. The Ferguson Tree was measured at some 132 meters in 1871 on the forest floor at Watts River, a tributary of the Yarra near Healesville. The tallest living tree in the world today is a Californian Coastal Redwood that stands at 115 meters. In Australia, our tallest living tree is Centurion, a Mountain Ash in Tasmania's Southern forests measuring 100m.
Today, the once impenetrable, majestic forests of the Central Highlands, where entire valleys of giant Mountain Ash once towered over a rich understorey of tree ferns and rainforest species, are dominated by a patchwork of square-blocks - even-aged Mountain Ash trees between 0 and 40 years old, evenly spaced, with little understorey. 
Continue reading here.

Debunking the Climate Change Sceptics

Photo by Tavis Ford -

By Yaron Berkowitz
I was always puzzled by the climate change debate. In the early 1990s, it was becoming apparent that increasing amounts of evidence indicated that human activity was rapidly changing the earth’s atmosphere and climate. It seemed the world was determined to respond and willing to make dramatic changes to the way in which we produce and consume energy. 

However, after the Kyoto Agreement was signed in 1997 something changed and the climate change sceptic was born. Though scientists could prove human-induced climate change was occurring, with potentially catastrophic consequences, the media began to report that climate science might not be absolute and scientists may be exaggerating the real facts. Certain climate conspiracy theories became more popular. Perhaps climate change is just a way for the government to create new taxes. 

Continue reading here.

Jordan Valley Solidarity (JVS) Fundraising Campaign

By Jemima Light 
Jordan Valley Solidarity (JVS) is a Palestinian-led, grassroots community group. Palestinians and international volunteers work together to protect both Palestinian existence and the unique environment of the Jordan Valley. This is done by supporting communities on the ground as well as building international support. The situation in the Jordan Valley is very serious.

The Israeli military has occupied the area since 1967 and the government has been attempting to gradually annex the area (which is 28% of the occupied West Bank) by employing various pressure tactics to force the local population to leave the Jordan Valley. This includes house demolitions, restricted access to water and education as well as the confiscation of land and property.
Continue reading here.

Photos from the 2013 AJDS Annual Dinner with Guest Speaker - Manny Waks from Tzedek

Manny Waks lighting the Hanukkiah.

Manny Waks addresses the crowd.

Dinner attendees enjoying their meals.

Dinner attendees await the guest speaker.
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