Khiriya and the Duality of Israel’s Existence
As part of the fellowship I’m doing here, we meet once a month with the other fellows (there are 5 of us) and see what kind of work they’re doing at their respective organizations. One of the fellows, Kevin Dwarka, is working at an organization called Adam, Teva, ve Din [Man, Nature, and Law], an environmentally-conscious lobby group consisting of lawyers, planners, and experts on environmental issues.
On Thursday, with Kevin and some of the staff of Adam, Teva, ve Din we took a tour of a site called Khiria, just on the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv. A garbage dump that handles 25 percent of all garbage produced in Israel, Khiria is also home to a center for environmental projects and forward-thinking planning. They are in the process of turning the area around Khiria into a public park with trails, picnic areas, and an open-air theater. The massive mound of garbage, known by Tel Avivis as ‘Shit Mountain’ also is being used to collect biofuel by harnessing the gases produced by the decaying garbage, and it is planned that the lights that will light the park will be powered by this biofuel. The park borders the Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv, once infamous for its bad-ass Mizrachi ghetto reputation.
The park and the projects surrounding it are a beacon of light and consciousness, an example for us all to follow.
Khiria is built upon the site of a former Palestinian village called al-Hiriya, depopulated in 1948 and turned 4 years later into a garbage dump for Tel Aviv. For me, Khiria therefore represents the duality of the Israeli reality. On one hand, you have incredible ingenuity, brilliant science, and a serious commitment to environmental justice. On the other, a dark past and the history of an ethnically cleansed population which still remains. The vibrant cultural and creative life of Tel Aviv is a world away from the bombing campaign against Gaza, but only a few kilometers separate the worlds.