This blog post was submitted by Chelsea McDaniel, intern at FoEME-Bethlehem
On May 27th 2011, a delegation of 9 Swedish Parliamentarians visited the Auja Environmental Education Center. They had come to learn first hand about how the lives of Palestinians were being affected by the occupation. Shortly after arriving they gathered in the main conference room to hear from FoEME’s Palestine Director, Nader Kateeb about FoEME’s work in the region. In a time when relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority seem strained, FoEME continues to work cooperatively with Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians. Nader explained to the delegation that “this is because the environment knows no borders.” He also highlighted programs such as the Good Water Neighbors that have shown the value of cooperating over shared resources.
The Auja Spring
After the talk and a tour of the Auja Center and guesthouse, we piled into several cars and set off for a tour of the Auja area. Our first stop was near a lush expanse of crops, whose very existence in the middle of the desert with temperatures quickly surpassing 35*c seemed to defy logic. As Nader explained, this was the farm of a nearby Israeli settler and the amount of crops in just this one farm amounted to more than all of the Palestinian farmers in Auja village. We then visited the site where the Auja Spring used to regularly flow, which was little more than a dry canal littered with garbage.
Moved by the tour, many of the members of Parliament expressed their great frustration at what they had seen. Before they left they assured us of their intention to share the story of the Auja Spring and the water situation in Palestine with the Swedish people in hopes of fostering more support for ending the occupation of Palestine.