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by Ari Bussel

Iran seems to be heavily vested in its race to acquire nuclear energy, "for peaceful purposes," of course.

At the same time Israel focuses its energies on the hardships of living in an arid area as population pressures mount to a critical point.

Masses of human beings consume water for existence and discharge waste that, if discharged improperly and untreated, can create an ecological disaster with major, long-lasting effects.

Arabs in Judea and Samaria already use the unregulated discharge of human waste in the war against Israel, quick to blame Israel for their wrongdoings. It has become a center stage for tours led by "peace activists" and for centerfolds in brochures of 501(c)(3) "human rights" organizations.

Likewise, Gazans siphon the building materials of a dam used for storing sewage for treatment. Several are killed in the process and the environment is dealt a heavy blow as the structure collapses. Who is to blame for this eco-crime? Israel.

Water has long been an effective tool in the Palestinian arsenal. They fail to abide by their responsibilities under the Oslo and subsequent agreements with Israel, designed to move toward two states living responsibly side by side, and instead engage in various activities to provoke battles.

First, they do not care about the long-term effects of their actions. They alone exist and their only context is in the now. What happens tomorrow as a result is of no concern. Thus, if the water level of the underground aquifer goes below that of sea level, contaminating the sweet water with salt, it is irrelevant to them.

Second, they conveniently ignore the fact that no one lives in a "stand alone mode," without any connection to others. When they decide to drill new water wells, it affects a very delicate water balance sheet. Drawing in one place is connected to all other places, when the geographic space is as limited as it is in tiny Israel. It is "their land," they claim, and so they proceed to do as they wish.

Third, they use propaganda against Israel. Given the current state of demonization of the Jewish State, one should not be surprised by the levels of acceptance of their rhetoric. They use billboards on Los Angeles Sunset Boulevard and on buses in various other metropolitan areas and have managed to plant the seeds of hatred with National Geographic photo-editors and photojournalists. (Well, that was not very difficult, the ground of hatred is extraordinarily fertile.)

National Geographic, in a special celebrated issue dedicated to water, focused on water as a cause of war in the Middle East. Pictures were shown of dwindling water levels and (starved?) children looking at the measuring stick. Bedouin, who do not have running water in their settlements (for the simple reason they have been settling over huge areas which belong to the State without permit, city planning or infrastructure), were also portrayed.

But most poignant were the comparisons of Israelis enjoying a day at the Mediterranean beach or along the shores of the Sea of Galilee (body of sweet water) to banana plantations.

For the benefit of those who did not understand the comparison between the careless, carefree Israelis at the beach and banana plantations, the editors added an explanation: Banana plants are one of the most water consuming plants. Thus, Israelis steal water that is not theirs and purposely use it wastefully in the most arrogant manner, choosing the most demanding and wasteful plants.

Wallis Annenberg, a local philanthropist, chose the National Geographic exhibition as the welcoming, pivotal introduction to the Los Angeles scene of her new "Space" (museum of sorts) in Century City. When experts on water and Israel approached her, hoping that the philanthropist of Jewish heritage will listen, she turned her back. Photos are her passion and apparently, propaganda is only in the eye of the beholder.

So during a recent visit to Israel I actually walked through and around these so-called evil banana plantations. Many can be found at the footsteps of the Carmel Mountains, where an inferno fire raged and obliterated some 60% of the forest into black and white ashes.

The banana plantations are like huge hothouses covered with a black net, extending for miles and miles like a huge protective structure (against birds who like to feed on the plants).

On the ground there is a network of plastic hoses for watering. Alas, there are warning signs all around, warning of the danger of drinking the water. The water is not to be used other than for watering the plants because it is reclaimed. Israelis, on the forefront of agricultural advances in the world would not dare use fresh drinking water for such a plant or for cotton.

All the average Los Angelino who visited the National Geographic exhibit at the new Annenberg Space knows is that her gardener is watering the curve once or twice a week to clean it using the same water intake to her house, i.e. fresh, drinking water. This ignorance of the truth is quickly enforced by the images and stories told of brutal, merciless, horrible and inconsiderate Israelis wasting water and preventing it from its rightful owners!

The battle for water has been part and parcel of Israel's struggle for existence as a modern country even before 1948. The major water source is the Sea of Galilee, which is fed from sources originating in Lebanon and Syria.

It is a very delicate balance that can easily be changed. Syria or Lebanon can over-consume or decide to stop the flow of water into the Sea of Galilee that cannot replenish itself from rainfall alone. How far fetched is this scenario? Not in the least. Syria is experience drought and an ever-increasing pressure by its growing population for water.

So acute is the need for water in Syria that many of its farmers, the lowest echelon in society, had to abandon their fields and flee to the cities to survive. Why not blame Israel and the present water flow to Israel as the cause of their misery? Whatever you do, engage in destruction rather than construction.

Syria's position is made even more complex since Turkey engages in the very same tactics of preventing water flow or over-utilizing the sources that feed into Syria and uses this reality to strengthen its position as a regional player. Water, simply put, changes the geo-political map of the Middle East.

So what is one to do? Israel's National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau said: "We fight for every drop of water." He then added, "even after six years of drought, while our neighbors in the Middle East gave water to their citizens by means of tankers, residents of Israel are opening the tap and getting water." This supply is due to Israeli ingenuity, not illegal or over- usage.

And the situation is only expected to get worse so Israel prepares for the future. Finance Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz approved the construction of a fourth desalination plant to fight the water crisis. Expected to be completed in two years, this $400m project is a private-public partnership to build one of the world's largest desalination plants with an annual output of 150m cubic meters of water.

The plant will use reverse osmosis to make Israel more self-sufficient, with 65% of its domestic water consumption relying on desalinated sources.

Decades ago we learned in school that desalination will only take place when the cost of treated water is equal to or lower than the cost of the next gallon of fresh (sweet) water. The time has clearly arrived, and we are now looking forward to a similar approach to lessen our reliance on "black gold."

The price of oil has crept surely and confidently above the $100 per barrel, which translates in the US economy to close to $5 per gallon at the pump. Europeans are paying almost twice as much at the pump. The world has recognized its dependence on oil has reached an alarming level. Is it not time for Israel to lead the way, as it does with water, to find alternative sources?

Usage goes up and demand must be satisfied. Once a family had at most one car, today each member of the family needs to have one. Like water, if we are not careful with our consumption habits, there may come a day that the tap, the hose or the pump is empty.

What would we do then, blame Israel?

Editor's Addendum: A major reason that Israel can not give away Samaria and Judea is that to do so would allow the Arabs to sit on top of Israel's major aquifer. For more information, start by reading here, here and here.

Contact Ari Bussel and Norma Zager at This article was published May 24, 2011 entitle "The True Frontier."


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