By Walid M. Sadi

It is most regrettable that the Amman Office of Friends of the Earth Middle East had to cancel its participation in the “torch run” cycling tour, originally scheduled for October 10 to raise awareness about environmental concerns, a decision taken under pressure from anti-normalisation groups.

While one can understand and appreciate the fact that there are many amongst us, including professional associations, who are opposed to normalising relations with Israel due to its intransigence and its determined effort to thwart effective peace talks, one fails to comprehend opposition to a cycling tour in which Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians were scheduled to take part for the single purpose of protecting the environment.

There are issues that override political sensitivities, and the protection of environment is certainly one of them; after all, environment does not have borders, and changes to it in one place affect the others.

The rule of thumb is that hostile countries, even when they do not have diplomatic relations, participate in joint efforts to promote regional health and safe environment.

Surely, our anti-normalisation movement must be aware that there are matters that supersede politics and warrant engaging all sides, including those who could be viewed as enemies. It so happens that the protection of our environment cannot wait until there is peace with Israel and so safeguarding it must be viewed as urgent and imperative.

Against this backdrop, it is a shame that Jordanian cyclists had to pull out of the tour.

October 10 has been designated by 350 organisations as the Global Work Day. It is unfortunate that Jordanians have been prevented from taking part in this noble campaign at a time when Jordan has a lot to gain from protecting the regional environment from creeping threats.