Fridays for Future needs a new role model

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November 12, 2023, Amsterdam, Netherlands: A climate activists, upset by the prominence of political issues during the N
“I came here for a climate demonstration. Not for political views.” A man snatches the microphone from Greta Thunberg during her speech in Amsterdam. © IMAGO/James Petermeier

Greta Thunberg has once again unilaterally taken sides with Palestine without addressing Israel. This is irresponsible – and now it was too much. At the forefront of the global climate movement it has become intolerable. The comment by Maximilian Arnhold.

Wer Greta Thunberg Hearing people talk can attest to the demise of a global icon. Dogged and obstinate, as she appears in the black and white Palestinian cloth for the rights of Gaza, without mentioning the Hamas attack on Israel. Irresponsible as she passes the microphone to a woman on stage who speaks of “genocide” against the Palestinians. Blind to victims on both sides, Thunberg chants sentences like “There is no climate justice on occupied soil.” At the weekend in Amsterdam in front of 85,000 people.

As a figurehead of the global climate movement Fridays for Future, Thunberg has become intolerable. Already after sharing a pro-Palestine post online – the authors of which can rightly be described as anti-Semitic – she should have distanced herself from one-sided partisanship. Instead, Thunberg followed up by posting several “Stand with Gaza” posts on her own Instagram channel. With her shameful performance on Sunday, she has finally lost her credibility on climate issues.

How good is she as a role model for people who want to listen to science when at the same time she spreads anti-Israel propaganda and conspiracy with statements like that of “occupied soil”?

Israel helps with environmentally friendly supplies

It is also significant that Thunberg’s actual topic – climate justice – is of all people Israel doesn’t seem to apply. Since its founding in 1948, the country has produced a particularly large number of inventions that contribute to the (environmental) well-being of the world: such as drip irrigation, seawater desalination and black solar panels.

Of course, snatching the microphone from her, as a man tried to do on stage in Amsterdam, won’t work. It’s also good that democracies have the right to freedom of expression. But anyone who fuels hatred of Israel and thus anti-Semitism has no place at the forefront of the international climate movement.

Thunberg drives a wedge into the “Fridays” movement

Their behavior is also irresponsible towards their fellow campaigners. Thunberg reinforces the division of Fridays for Future. Their views met with a mixed response not only among the demo participants in Amsterdam. The German section has long since separated, clearly condemns Hamas terror and all anti-Semitism. But the international account spins freely, blathering in a post about Israel’s “genocide” against the Palestinians. The strength of “Fridays” lay in their unity.

Luisa Neubauer as successor? It is unclear who could inherit Greta

The climate movement needs a new international leader. But it is unclear who could follow in Thunberg’s footsteps. There are definitely people with charisma: Luisa Neubauer, for example, is eloquent, experienced in international appearances and free of missteps – but does not speak for the global community most affected by climate change.

Or Vanessa Nakate from Uganda? What Greta can claim about herself is true for neither of the two climate activists: that she sat down in front of a parliament as a school student with a sign and thereby started a world movement. Thunberg himself destroyed this founding myth.

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