Azaria Alon, Forefather of Israeli Conservationism, Passes
Azaria Alon, Israel Prize winner and cofounder of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel passed away at his home early on, Sunday, 19 January 2014. He was 95 years old. Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel CEO, Moshe ‘Kosha’ Pakman said, "Today, Israel's nature has lost one of its greatest supporters."
Alon was born in 1918 in Ukraine. His family immigrated to Israel in 1925, settling in Moshav Kfar Yehezkel in the Jezreel Valley. In 1932, the Alon family moved to Kiryat Haim, near Haifa. At the age of 20, Alon returned to the Jezreel Valley to join Kibbutz Beit HaShita, where he would live for the rest of his life. In 1952, Alon married Ruth Diamont. They had four children. The funeral will be held Tuesday, at 3pm at Kibbutz Beit HaShita.
Alon, forefather of the Israeli environmental movement, founded the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Israel's oldest and largest environmental organization, in 1953 as part of a campaign to prevent the draining of the Hula Valley wetlands. He worked as a guide, serving as a deeply knowledgeable source of information for many years. In 1959, Alon began hosting the "Views of Our Land" radio program on Kol Yisrael, which he continued to host throughout his life. He was the first recipient of the Israel Broadcasting Authority Prize in 1966 for "Views of Our Land" and eventually made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running host of a radio program. In 1992, in addition to his other efforts, he joined the faculty at Technion, teaching architecture.
Alon wrote dozens of books about Israel's nature and geography, including children's books to capture young readers’ dedication to nature and environmental conservation. He served as editor for the Israel Guide to Birds and chief editor of the Encyclopedia of Flora and Fauna in Israel.
Alon was widely recognized for his work and contributions to nature conservation in Israel, receiving numerous awards and prizes, including: the Zimmerman Award for Environmental Quality (1977), the Israel Prize along with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (1980), the Knesset Speaker's Prize for Quality of Life (1984), an Honorary PhD from the Weizmann Institute (1991), the Yigal Alon Award for Exemplary Pioneering Activities (1994), the "Lifetime Achievement Award for Environmental Protection" from Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection (2008), the Herzl Award (2010) and the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement and Special Contribution (2012).
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel's CEO, Moshe ‘Kosha’ Pakman said, “Azaria Alon is the face of the State of Israel, and the face of Israel is Azaria Alon. It is difficult to imagine what Israel and its nature would look life without Alon's significant contributions and dedicated efforts. From his early days struggling to preserve the Hula Valley wetlands to his last days, Alon advanced many environmental campaigns. Alon is a national hero, an example of love for Israel, educating generations, sharing his knowledge and passion with the public, contributing to countless campaigns and causes for Israel's nature and its people. Today, Israel's nature has lost one of its greatest supporters."