When Omri Hazor turned 6 years old, his parents knew there was something special about this boy. He naturally fell in love with the water, and his father taught him how to windsurf off of the Israeli coast in Bat Yam on the Mediterranean Sea.
To this day, Hazor says he has “a deep relationship with the sea.” It’s one that’s hard to describe and few will ever understand how he’s fully immersed himself into the life of a water aficionado. He started competing competitively when he was 10 years old. He began excelling, honing in on his craft before he even reached his 20s. At the European Championships, he placed second in the world for those under 21. He’s an expert in windsurfing, kitesurfing and several other types of surfing.
“When you get to spend so much time in the water and you get to understand different situations in the sea and you get to see different angles, I can see the changes of the environment around the sea,” Hazor said.
Protecting the waters
When Hazor began windsurfing, the Bat Yam water was crystal clear. There was no plastic visible to the naked eye. That began to change, however, and he found his calling to create a better tomorrow.
“We all need to be the leaders we want to see in our local communities,” he explained. “If we can all act in a good way with the environment, we can create the change we want to see.”
Hazor is dedicated to battling corporations and municipalities that he believes are responsible for polluting the sea. If we don’t act now, our children will suffer, he said. He’s turned his passion into a clear path of activism.
He sued the Israeli Water Authority in 2008, marking the first time any individual sued the firm. It was time to start a precedent, and he knew this was only the beginning. The case created growing awareness of the problem, and this windsurfer fully became a leading activist to clean up Israel’s water.
His next lawsuit came against the Tel Aviv Municipality, charging them with polluting the sea on a daily basis. While the case didn’t have the results he wanted, he knows it’s just the beginning.
Hazor, upon returning to Israel from a trip to Hawaii, created a Facebook group to create protests and awareness for the changes he wants to see.
The start of this journey has taught him that you can “be the hero you want
Now, he is a water sports coach. As part of his work, he is teaching children how to view the sea in different ways. The next generation of Israeli leaders, he believes, will be dedicated to saving marine life because of his mission.
A year ago, while coaching, a turtle approached the group, tangled in plastic. He took the turtle to one of Israel’s turtle rescue centers. Two months later, he received a call that the turtle was ready to be released back into the sea and he made sure all of his kids would witness this creature returning home.
“I’m sure every one of those kids will never throw away trash in the ocean,” Hazor said.
Hazor further explained that because Israel is on the east end of the Mediterranean, it’s the recipient of the trash from the countries around the Mediterranean because of the way the current flows.
Going forward, he wants to ensure that Israel will be a global leader in cleaning up the sea. If Israel can create additional preservation laws, it will set an international example for other nations of how to create a meaningful, lasting impact. Hopeful to see change, he believes that if Israel leads, then its neighboring nations will follow suit and clean up the sea for the benefit of all who rely on it to survive.