For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Martin Sherman Guest Columnist:JPost 19 November 09
The Israeli occupation changed local agriculture profoundly. It introduced modern technology, including mechanization, precision tillage, pest control, plastic covering of crops for temperature control, high yielding varieties, postharvest processing of produce, marketing and export outlets. It also introduced efficient methods of irrigation, including sprinkler and especially drip irrigation. Consequently, output increased greatly, and farming was transformed from a subsistence enterprise to a commercial industry.
Daniel Hillel, Rivers of Eden, Oxford University Press, 1994
The above excerpt is sufficient to heap richly-deserved ridicule on the recent Amnesty report claiming that Israel's avaricious water policy has gravely compromised Palestinians' human rights. Miraculously, the Amnesty report was published to coincide perfectly with a vicious crusade launched across US campuses by Omar Barghouti, a Tel Aviv University graduate student, campaigning for - among other things - the boycott of Tel Aviv University, together with the entire Israeli academic establishment (avowed leftists and all).
By some curious coincidence, one of the issues raised by Barghouti to justify the BDS (boycott-cum-divestment-cum-sanctions) campaign was Israel's alleged exploitation of water resources to implement a process of "ethnic cleansing" and "apartheid." Predictably - if not persuasively - Amnesty denied any hint of collusion with the Barghouti initiative, emotively entitled "Palestine: Thirsting for Justice."
The facts, however, paint a very different - indeed antithetical - picture to that painted by the A/B (Amnesty/Barghouti) duo. For by every conceivable measure of consumption of fresh water, the lot of the Palestinians has improved dramatically - indeed beyond all recognition - since 1967 under Israeli administration, whether it be overall consumption, per capita consumption, consumption relative to Israel/Israelis, conveyance of running water to households, area under agricultural cultivation or size of the agricultural product.
In the period 1967-2006 the overall annual consumption of the Palestinians in the West Bank grew by 300 percent - from 60 million cubic meters to 180 million cu.m. The annual per capita consumption in the same period rose by almost 15% - from 86 cu.m. to 100 cu.m. By contrast the overall consumption by Israel dropped by 15% (from 1411 million cu.m. to 1211 million cu.m.), while the per capita consumption plummeted an amazing 300% from 508 cu.m. to 170 cu.m. - a decrease made possible not only by more efficient usage but also massive replacement of fresh water by recycled sewage for agricultural irrigation and of naturally occurring water by artificially produced (desalinated) water for domestic use. The Palestinians, by contrast, have steadfastly refused to undertake agreed upon sewage purification plants, allowing untreated effluents to endanger "downstream" Israeli supplies.
Moreover, from 1967 to the years preceding Oslo, the Palestinian household consumption of water rose dramatically under Israeli rule - by almost 600%, significantly higher than in Israel where domestic consumption in the same period rose by approximately 230%. But not only did consumption by households improve, so did conveyance to households. In 1967 only 50 West Bank villages were connected to a running water system whereas by the early 1990s the number rose to 260.
LIKEWISE, AS can be inferred by the opening citation from Hillel, there was a dramatic enhancement of agricultural performance - even though water allocations were not increased. This was facilitated by more advanced methods of cultivation/irrigation introduced under Israeli rule. (In this regard it should be remembered that Israeli farmers have had their water allocations significantly reduced since 1967.) This resulted in an increase of the cultivated area by about 160% and of the agricultural product by 1200%.
Furthermore, the malicious and mendacious claims that the luscious lawns and shimmering swimming pools in the Jewish settlements are unfairly and provocatively depriving Palestinians of water are belied by a single statistic. For Israel in fact conveys more water from inside the pre-1967 borders into the West Bank (nearly 56 million cu.m.) than the total consumption of the entire Jewish population in the settlements across the Green Line ( just over 48 million cu.m.).
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"