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It’s Hard to Hear the Truth about Water

By: Max
July 10, 2011

On July 5th and 6th, FoEME participated in the annual CleanTech exhibition in Tel Aviv. Representatives from all three offices were at the exhibition, including FoEME staff and adult Good Water Neighbor residents. It was exciting for us to learn about all of the clean products and services available in Israel. Though our booth was decidedly less high-tech, we offered our own CleanTech solutions: person-to-person contact and collaboration to protect our shared, and threatened, trans-boundary resources.

FoEME shared this solution not just at our booth, but also during the event’s International Water Symposium. The Symposium featured six speakers from Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, including FoEME’s Palestinian Director Nader al-Khateeb and Jordanian Director Munqeth Mehyar. Other speakers represented organizations like the Arava Institute, and the Israel Water Association.

All six panelists talked about the reality of the water situation in the region and potential solutions to overcome the disparity of distribution among Israel, Jordan and Palestine. These realities were particularly difficult for some members of the audience to hear. When FoEME’s Palestinian Director Nader al-Khateeb spoke about limited water access in Palestine, even at health institutions, audience members stood up and interrupted, demanding that politics be left out of the symposium.

Of course, FoEME, like the United Nations, believes that access to safe water is a basic human right, an unambiguously apolitical stance. Unfortunately, given the daily realities of occupation, more often than not, water and politics cannot be separated here. FoEME addressed this uncomfortable truth at the panel, not to rile up the crowd, but to inform the audience of the full scope of the water crisis in the region.

Had the interrupters listened for a moment more, they would have heard al-Khateeb explain that water should be a tool to build the bridges of peace, and that it can create trust and confidence among neighbors. Despite the political challenges, FoEME believes that solutions exist to these problems (including our proposal) and did not hesitate to share them.

This blog was written by Daniel Olson, FoEME intern at the Tel Aviv Office and a senior Environmental Studies major at Yale University.

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