Tuesday, January 31st | 9 Shevat 5783

September 12, 2016 11:17 am

Let the BDS-ers Against Israeli Water Expertise Eat Dust

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avatar by Anne Klausner

Growing wheat in Israel's Hula Valley. Photo: Wikipedia.

Growing wheat in Israel’s Hula Valley. Photo: Wikipedia.

An op-ed by Seth Siegel in the Jerusalem Post on Friday — called “Israel’s Greatest Victory?” — points not to any of the Jewish state’s military feats, stunning and miraculous as they have been, but rather to its conquest over nature, defeat of drought and the turning of the country into a water miracle.

It stated, in part:

The diaries and letters of the pre-state leaders were filled with a worry that there be adequate water to grow food for what they accurately foresaw as a rapidly growing population.

This emphasis on water – and the talk about making the desert bloom – accelerated after independence in May 1948.

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While other newly decolonialized countries of that era put their focus elsewhere or sabotaged their future by diverting public money for corrupt purposes, Israel – even while still barely able to pay its bills – embarked on large infrastructure projects such as the National Water Carrier, to bring water from the Sea of Galilee to the Center and the South. The government also began experimentation in a range of water technologies, ultimately, and most significantly, in desalination.

Israel also had the good fortune of having a now-forgotten hero, Simcha Blass, as head of its water planning for decades.

But when Blass got into a principled dispute with leaders such as David Ben-Gurion, Levi Eshkol and Pinchas Sapir in 1959, he resigned from public life and retired to a two-room apartment in Tel Aviv. A short time later … Blass began a second career as the inventor of drip irrigation, a water-saving technology that is being speedily adopted in water-scarce nations all over the world…

For many years, Israel has offered its water expertise to less developed countries as well as to the Palestinians in the West Bank and, until recently, the Gaza Strip. Egypt and the Kingdom of Jordan have also benefited from Israeli knowhow and training as have more than 100 countries at one time or another.

Israel has also extended its help to developed nations and areas suffering from drought. California is a recent salient example. The Israeli-innovation tracking website No Camels reported that Israel assisted the state by directing it to grow more rice with less water, and even the White House turned to Israel for solutions to California’s water problem.

In fact, Israel itself has been water-independent for some years now.

This topic is particularly relevant at the moment, since the annual WATEC Italy Conference, organized by the Israeli Kenes Exhibitions, is set to take place later this month. Given Israel’s expertise and experience in water conservation, desalination and purification, it is not surprising that several Israeli speakers are on the program.

Could anyone find anything objectionable in this conference? Well, yes, they could. Certain “activists” are demanding that the EU withdraw its support for it, due to its Israeli connection:

Roughly 40 European trade unions, environmental groups and human rights networks are demanding that the European Commission withdraw its support from an Israeli-run water conference slated to take place in Italy at the end of September…

“We, the undersigned European trade unions, human rights and right to water organizations, are alarmed by the European Commission’s sponsorship of an event that includes the participation of companies involved in and facilitating violations of international law,” said the letter, sent to European Commission President Jean- Claude Juncker and Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella.

“As documented by international organizations, UN agencies and EU institutions themselves, Israel exercises strict control over Palestinian water resources and denies access to the Palestinian population, which has led to ‘stark inequalities’ in access to water between Israelis, including settlers, and Palestinians,” the letter continued, citing a January 2016 European Parliament briefing…

“The European Commission’s patronage of WATEC comes at a time when Israel is cutting off water to Palestinian communities, leaving tens of thousands without access to water during the hottest time of the year,” the letter said.

As we well know, all these water libels have been debunked over and over again by Israel. This 2012 report by CoHav, an Israeli advocacy volunteer group, on Israel’s water issues vis-a-vis the Palestinians is as relevant today as it was four years ago. Some of its salient points:

Israel is supplying the Palestinians more than double the amount agreed in the 1995 agreement … Palestinians are losing 33% of water supplied due to evaporation, leakage and a large part due to theft.

Over 300 illegal wells have been drilled in Judea and Samaria which ultimately can destroy the aquifer and cause an ecological disaster for the Palestinians.

In spite of help offered, the Palestinians do not recycle waste water or have any plans for desalination.

And who exactly are these unnamed “activists” who wrote the letter? Why, they are our old friends, the advocates of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, who never miss any occasion to denounce Israel, no matter how counterproductive that might be to the very people they purport to defend.

The fact that they want the EU to boycott a water conference in which Israel is a participant shows more clearly than any stunt what their ultimate objective is: the total delegitimization of Israel as a normal country among the nations — the attempt to turn it into a pariah surrounding which nothing is legitimate, not even life-saving technologies — and ultimately to destroy it.

Let them choke on their own dust, while Israel solves the world’s water woes.

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