For immediate release
Hazon, the leading American Jewish environmental organization, this week issued a strong response to a new Israeli organization, also called “hazon”, that has published a series of inflammatory billboards attacking gay, lesbian and transgender Israelis, and then also attacked Women of the Wall.
Hazon, based in New York, and with staff in five locations in the US, as well as two staffers in Israel, has worked for nearly twenty years to strengthen Jewish life and to work for a more sustainable world for all. Hazon has a legal trademark for the name “Hazon,” and its Israeli lawyers issued a cease-and-desist letter to the new Israeli “hazon” earlier this week, demanding that the Israeli group immediately cease using the name “Hazon.”
Hazon’s CEO, Nigel Savage, said “Hazon works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a more sustainable world. We’re proud of our work and of our good name. It is frankly distressing to see our name being attached to billboards and pronouncements that so radically stand against all that we have done, and all that we have tried to do, since our founding in 2000.”
Aharon Ariel Lavi, Hazon’s senior staffer in Israel and an orthodox rabbi, said “Jewish wisdom and tradition, and the [NY based] Hazon organization I work for, stand for connecting people of all sectors and building sustainable communities. I as an individual, and we as an organization, respect Jewish tradition and respect different opinions. We believe that the sustainability of Israel and of our faith lies in honest conversation, despite deep disagreements, not in attacking people for their identity or their beliefs or anything else. This new Israeli Hazon is doing exactly the opposite of this. I hope that they will end this campaign.”
Longtime Hazon board member Ruth Messinger (former CEO of American Jewish World Service and Manhattan Borough President) added “Hazon has consistently been on the side of so much that is good and right in Jewish tradition, and it has, as well, a longstanding commitment to pluralism and inclusive community. It is quite awful that this group in Israel is inciting bigotry, let alone in the name of Jewish tradition. I hope that anyone who opposes this – as I and my colleagues strongly do – will go to Facebook and like the Hazon page, to make clear that this organization does not in any way speak in our name.”
Hazon has produced a bike ride in Israel every year since 2003, in partnership with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and Hazon and AIES have together brought nearly 2,000 people to Israel on that Ride. AIES Executive Director David Lehrer said, “The Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride is the only ride in the world in which Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Americans and people from around the world ride as one for peace and for a sustainable planet. Hazon is our partner on the ride because our two organizations share the values of equality, human rights and human dignity – and a belief in our responsibility to make the world a better and healthier place to live. I am deeply disturbed that an Israeli organization whose values are the antithesis to those of our partner would tarnish their name. We stand by our partner Hazon.”
Professor Alon Tal, chair of the Department of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University and a long time participant in Hazon’s activities explained that even in an age of “fake news” and intentionally duplicitous publicity, there need to be limits. “For two decades now, Hazon has moved beyond its New York origins to become a major international voice for sustainability and a progressive, unified Judaism. No disingenuous imposters should be allowed to steal their identity and pedigree.”
Hazon has asked people to go to their Facebook page and “like” Hazon, so that it will be clear which organization is, as it were, the true Hazon.
Nigel Savage, Hazon’s CEO, added, “This month sees the 25th anniversary of Baruch Goldstein’s murder of innocent worshippers on the morning of Purim. So this is an especially important time to affirm love and human solidarity as the very essence of Jewish life, and to challenge intolerance and incitements to violence wherever they arise. This is the kind of hazon, of vision, that we hope will inspire people of all religious backgrounds to respond to the challenges of climate change – and of civil society.”
Hazon, the Jewish lab for sustainability, was founded in NYC in 2000.
It is a network agency of UJA-Federation of New York and a member of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable.
It is based in NYC, and has staff at its Isabella Freedman campus in Falls Village, CT; in Detroit; Boulder; Denver; and in Israel.