In Age of Forest Fires, Israel’s Law Against Palestinian Goats Proves Self-inflicted Wound for Zionism

A ban by Israel on herding black goats – on the pretext they cause environmental damage – is to be repealed after nearly seven decades of enforcement that has decimated the pastoral traditions of Palestinian communities.

The Israeli government appears to have finally conceded that, in an age of climate change, the threat of forest fires to Israeli communities is rapidly growing in the goats’ absence.

The goats traditionally cleared undergrowth, which has become a tinderbox as Israel experiences ever longer and hotter summer droughts. Exactly a year ago, Israel was hit by more than 1,500 fires that caused widespread damage.

The story of the lowly black goat, which has been almost eliminated from Israel, is not simply one of unintended consequences. It serves as a parable for the delusions and self-destructiveness of a Zionism bent on erasing Palestinians and creating a slice of Europe in the Middle East.

The 1950 Plant Protection Law, one of Israel’s earliest measures, was introduced as a way to outlaw the black goat, also known as the Syrian goat, from large areas of the country. The goats had been the lifeblood of Bedouin farming communities.

At the time officials declared that the goat was damaging vegetation, especially millions of pine saplings recently planted as forests.

The trees were fulfilling an important Zionist mission, in the eyes of Israel’s founding fathers. They were there to conceal the rubble of more than 530 Palestinian villages the…

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