|Environment, Health and Social Conflict in Israel: The Democratic Potential of Contested Science|
|Although Sociologist Ulrich Beck stated that 'poverty is hierarchic, while smog is democratic' in recent decades there is growing interest by communities, scientists and policy makers in the connections between environmental justice and racial/ethnic health disparities. Environmental risks are not randomly distributed in the population, they are correlated to income. Ethnic minorities also suffer disproportionate environmental risks.
In this study we examine the growing debate on environmental causes of illness in the context of scientific and medical controversies, and environmental justice activism in Israel in the second half of the 20th century. The environmental movement in Israel has only recently discovered the vast potential hidden in the discourse of environmental health, including in active participation in its scientific components.
In the first part we will analyze the changes and development of the relationship among the actors involved in environmental health policy making in Israel. Our discussion will focus on the context of the history of Zionism and its relation to science, health and the environment. In the second part of the paper we will discuss and compare several case studies:
1. Malaria eradication during the British Mandate Period in Palestine.
2. The environmental struggle around Ramat Hovav industrial zone, where the main population influenced is that of the Bedouins.
The analysis of these cases will emphasize the social and ethnic dimensions of environmental health policy and practices in Israel.