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Most of the above stories share a common element: With the exception of the International Bird Center, all of the initiatives mentioned in this chap-ter utilized the legal or scientific services of Adam Teva V'din—the Israel Union for Environmental Defense.[86] The Association for Civil Rights in Israel had remarkable success in expanding the protection of human rights in Israel through its masterful utilization of the courts. Adam Teva V'din was established by the author in 1991 as a public-interest law (and later science) organization to emulate this success in the environmental realm. Starting with the EcoNet seed money and donations from Toronto-based philanthropists Linda and David Bronfman, office space was found near the old port on Tel Aviv's Ha-Yarkon Street.

Although the fuse box at the organization's office smoldered too much to run air conditioners in summer and the roof leaked in winter, there were two phone lines. They were enough to allow the group to set about its business of hounding polluters. Adam Teva V'din began by initiating a lawsuit against the city of Eilat, whose illegal sewage discharges upset the delicate nutrient balance in the Red Sea.[87] Dozens of legal actions would soon follow. Ruth Yaffe, the first attorney hired by the organization, de-scribes the initial challenges:

When I joined the staff I immediately noticed that environmental laws in Israel were somewhat anachronistic and sparse. When you contrasted the environmental legislation to the volumes of environmental laws in Europe or the United States, it was clear that legal tools existed but not at all clear how to use them. We wanted to be pioneers and were ready to be creative, but ultimately decided to be pragmatic, going down a better-tread path of focusing on specific problems rather than policy questions.[88]

The organization benefited from several advantages that Malraz had not enjoyed thirty years earlier. There was now a Ministry of the Environment, and it knew how to funnel useful information discreetly to nongovernmen-tal watchdogs, to help them bark up the right tree. The press had become interested in environmental cases, providing additional pressure points. Money was the ultimate cause of Malraz's demise. But during the 1990s, the international Jewish community was beginning to take an interest in Israel's environment, and generous funding became available. Foundations such as the Goldman Fund, the Moriah Fund, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the CRB Foundation, the Conanima Foundation, the Bracha Fund, and the

Porter Fund provided critical and sustained support for Israeli NGOs. Still, the primary advantage of the 1990s was legal.

Israel's activist Supreme Court had lowered its barriers to public-interest petitioners, allowing for almost unfettered access to the Court's administrative powers of oversight. More important was a series of envi-ronmental laws and amendments that opened the lower courts' gates to environmental litigants. In 1991, Meretz party Knesset member Dedi Zucker sponsored a Citizens' Suit bill that had been drafted by Jerusalem lawyers Reuven Laster and Bruce Terris. To the astonishment and delight of environmentalists, a year later, just prior to the Knesset's adjournment, he slipped the law by the Knesset's Constitution and Law Committee. The statute was carved up in the process and fell far short of the original vision that would have rewarded lawyers handsomely for winning pollution cases, but still it created a broad range of civil actions against polluters for offenses that now included hazardous materials, solid wastes, and radia-tion.[89] Four years later, Zucker's colleague, Benny Temkin, amended the statute and the Water Law,[90] removing a number of annoying procedural barriers.[91] Finally, in 1997, sweeping legislation absolved selected public-interest groups of the vexatious requirement to prove actual damages to their members before filing most environmental suits.[92]

Adam Teva V'din also benefited from the proliferation of grassroots or-ganizations that lacked technical expertise. It was a natural match: a na-tional organization that needed local constituents and local environmental groups that needed professional assistance. Within two years of its incep-tion, over twenty organizations signed power-of-attorney agreements with the Adam Teva V'din legal staff.[93] They often needed reassurance as much as they needed representation. For example, in the ultraorthodox neighborhood of B'nei Brak, a local group suffered from an array of dread-ful hazards and eventually went door to door to raise funds to pay for the air quality monitoring required for the suit Yaffe eventually filed.[94]

Adam Teva V'din's independent status, combined with its tendency to open dialogues with polluters by making implicit or explicit legal threats, enabled small citizen groups to engage powerful interests. Sewage is just one example of a seemingly intractable ecological quagmire where public-interest advocacy has helped. The City of Ramla's sewage had long been a problem, flowing untreated into the Ayalon Stream. From there it contin-ued to the Yarkon River. In a meeting with the public-interest attorneys, the mayor of Ramla actually invited legal action that might force the cen-tral government to provide some of the financial support for which he had long been asking.[95]


A Supreme Court petition by Adam Teva V'din against the city called for imposing a construction schedule for building the plant. The Ministry of the Interior found special funds for the project. Eight other cities were soon confronted, with most of the cases ending in legal actions that pushed cities such as Ra'ananah and Zefat toward a treatment solution.[96]

Once word got out about the availability of free legal assistance for en-vironmental problems, the telephone rang continually. Irit Sappir, who originally was hired to be an office manager, spent most of her time giv-ing environmental first aid for people's problems and eventually went back to school for a graduate degree in environmental studies. Tel Aviv University Law School offered a seminar in environmental legal aid, in which students worked as interns at Adam Teva V'din, helping citizens with their problems.

As was the case for any enforcement agency, Adam Teva V'din's first hurdle was obtaining evidence, in the form of quantitative measurements; such evidence was very expensive to collect. Even if government agencies had been willing to share information freely (the Ministry of the Environment generally was open, the Ministry of Health generally was not), they frequently lacked critical data because of their limited monitor-ing capacity. So money was raised to open a small “citizens' laboratory.” Mouna Noufi had no sooner submitted her Ph.D. dissertation in analytical chemistry at the Technion than she was hired as chief scientist and began to acquire the equipment for measuring pollution levels. The U.S. EPA hosted Noufi on a summer training visit, after which she began to test the effluents released by factories, using a variety of methods. The results of her scientific reports provided the basis for press releases and, in several cases, evidence in litigation.

The most important of these was Adam Teva V'din's private criminal suit against a pair of Haifa petrochemical plants, Deshanim Ltd. and the megapolluting Haifa Chemicals, which were dumping highly acidic efflu-ents into the Kishon River. Danny Fisch left a Haifa law firm to join Adam Teva V'din's legal team in 1994, bringing with him a pragmatic but un-yielding legal style. The Kishon cases were among his first in a long string of successful suits. Under the Water Law, the evidence showing flagrant vi-olations of the Water Commissioner's standards was not by itself enough to file suit. Fisch found a group of Haifa fishermen whose boats had been damaged by the acidic water; this met the standing requirements for filing suits that existed prior to the Water Law amendments.

The legal battle that ensued was stormy, as Fisch faced a team of Israel's most high-powered attorneys (including the legendary Amnon Goldenburg

and his large Tel Aviv law firm, along with Haifa-based Solomon Lipshitz). For two years they launched a steady barrage of procedural missiles at the suit (as well as ongoing attempts to influence the Attorney General to cancel the case).[97] Time and again, Haifa Magistrate Judge Yitzhak Dar ruled in favor of Adam Teva V'din, and testimony finally began to unfold. The evidence was compelling, and Haifa Chemicals relented. The company agreed to sign a consent agreement that the judge formally approved. Its central component was a timetable to build a seventeen-million-dollar, state-of-the-art effluent treatment facility. In addition, for the first time in Israeli legal history, a polluter created a $250,000 environmental protec-tion fund as part of a legal settlement, covered the full costs of the damage to fishermen's boats, and paid full legal expenses.[98]

As open-space preservation took center stage in the environmental agenda of the 1990s, the organization turned its attention to planning is-sues. The stakes were usually much higher in these cases than in previous ones, forcing the organization to test the boundaries of environmental precedent. This culminated in a petition to enjoin construction of the Trans-Israel Highway until a comprehensive environmental impact state-ment was prepared.

To support its case, the organization tapped a dozen international and Israeli experts for help. Their affidavits argued that the impact statements submitted for different segments of the highway did not capture the cu-mulative or indirect effect of an eight-lane freeway. The experts' opinions confirmed that the highway would gobble up open spaces and exacerbate air pollution and traffic fatalities.[99] The case dragged on for almost two years until Justice Misha Cheshin rejected the petition, offering a narrow inter-pretation of Israel's 1982 Environmental Impact Statement regulations.[100] Paradoxically, as a private attorney, just five years earlier Cheshin had rep-resented local residents who demanded a better impact statement for the Voice of America transmitter. His decision to opt for judicial conservatism, rather than a creative interpretation of the regulation's language that sup-ported environmental interests, was particularly disappointing. But there would be other cases where environmental interests would win.

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