NY Times Applauds While Israel Robs Palestine of Water

The New York Times invites us to gaze with wonder on the miracles of Israeli technology today, with a page 1 photo and story touting the innovations that have saved the country from drought. Because of wise policies and applied science, we learn, “there is plenty of water in Israel.”

The Times never tells us, however, that a significant number of those who reside on the land are seriously deprived of water: Palestinians in some areas of the West Bank are forced to survive on only 20 liters of water a day per person, well below the World Health Organization minimum of 60 liters. In Gaza 90 percent of the water is unfit to drink.

Meanwhile, Israelis in West Bank settlements “generally have access to as much running water as they please,” according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, and Israelis over all use three times as much water as Palestinians. Settlers also confiscate West Bank springs, and Israeli security forces destroy water equipment in Palestinian villages and prevent their residents from building cisterns and wells.

In the Times story, “Aided by the Sea, Israel Overcomes an Old Foe: Drought,” Isabel Kershner writes that Israel is thriving because it has adopted recycling and desalination. She quotes at length from Israeli officials but includes not a single Palestinian voice.

Kershner manages to dismiss Palestinian concerns in two sentences: “Israel, which shares the mountain aquifer with the West Bank, says it provides the Palestinians with more water than it is obliged to under the existing peace accords. Palestinians say it is not enough and too expensive.” She feels no need to address the humanitarian crisis Israeli has created in confiscating Palestinian water for its own use.

In fact, Israel steals the water from under the feet of Palestinians, draining West Bank aquifers, allocating 73 percent of this water to Israel and another 10 percent to settlers. Palestinians are left with 17 percent, and many are forced to buy from the Israeli water company at rates up to three times as high as the tariffs charged Israelis.

Kershner omits any mention of the obvious inequalities between Israeli West Bank settlements and the Palestinian villages nearby. Settlements often have swimming pools and green, watered turf, while villages remain dusty and dry, without enough water for agriculture or even for home gardens.

The Times has also turned its back on news that underscores the outright theft of water in Palestine. It had nothing to report, for instance, when settlers recently surrounded a Palestinian spring with mines and barbed wire. The paper also remained silent when security forces destroyed pipes providing water to an impoverished Jordan Valley herding community earlier this year.

Many organizations, however, have spoken out. The United Nations, the World Bank, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, church groups, If Americans Knew, and others. They have issued reports and press releases noting that Israel violates international law in confiscating Palestinian water resources and highlighting the striking disparities between West Bank villages and Jewish settlements.

Kershner found none of this worth mentioning in her story today. Instead, we find a promotional piece that should benefit Israeli water specialists now peddling their products in California and other drought-stricken areas of the United States.

Editors and reporters are complicit in this effort to tout Israel as an enlightened and technologically advanced country, even in the face of its flagrant theft of Palestinian water. The New York Times has found an Israeli puff piece on water technology to be worth a front page spread, but it deems the criminal confiscation of this basic resource unfit to print.

Barbara Erickson

11 thoughts on “NY Times Applauds While Israel Robs Palestine of Water

  1. Barbara, this one piece of yours shows all too clearly the rank dishonesty of Arthur Sulzberger and his sycophant “editors/journalists” at the New York Times and its Jerusalem bureau! It is utterly astounding how they continue to publish transparent propaganda to inflate and/or defend indefensible Zionist Israel in its hourly/daily terrorizing of Palestinians since 1947, even when it involves the basic human need of potable water. I am hard put to think of anything more despicable!

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  2. Barbara, Thanks for this well written article! Some practical dynamics on the ground include, but are not limited to: large sinkholes happening near the shores of the disappearing Dead Sea; a dried up Jordan River which has been usurped decades ago by a water piping distribution system; plus water systems designed, produced and distributed in the US and throughout the world which are only a bandage for our water resources.

    Israel’s forest fires have uncovered the remains of Arab villages destroyed in 1948. The canal to be built by Jordan, Israel and Palestine to bring salt water to be desalinized is still waiting to be built. The Security Wall was not built along the original planned route. Rather the Wall meanders in order to physically make sure water sources will be available to Israel water companies to also sell back water to the people of Palestine. Sort of like how large companies in the US appropriate public water to bottle and sell back to us at great profit.

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    • Thanks for so much good information. The route of the wall is one example of how Israel steals Palestinian water, and then, as you say, we have the Dead Sea and other sites as well.

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  3. Thanks, Barbara. You’ve provided another magnificent piece. The NY Times’ shocking front page picture features a big blue touristy swimming pool with the dry Negev for a backdrop. The story is absolutely outrageous. Not a mention of Israel’s cruel water deprivation and water theft policies that so harm the health and economies of West Bank Palestinians and those trapped and suffering in the Gaza Open Air Prison.

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