Schultz? Da krieg ich schiss and I’ll pass on the Kool Aid

Following the excitement surrounding Speaker of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz’s speech in the Knesset the discussion wandered into what are the factual numbers for comparative water consumption for PA residents and for Israelis. Some of the responses from the Left appear as if they are drinking their own kool aid , if so, they should try using water from the sewage reclamation plant in Al Bira.

They could try, but the results would be far from spectacular for the Al Bira is for all practical purpose non functioning. Around the time that Martin Schultz was in Ramallah fielding questions about the “unequal” distribution of water resources, the Al Bira plant malfunctioned, spilling tons of raw sewage into one of the tributaries of Wadi Qelt that caused serious damage to ecosystem. For those not in the know, the Al Bira Sewage Treatment plant services Ramallah and its area and Wadi Qelt is one of the most impressive nature sites in the entire Shomron (or would you say the “west bank”?). Considering that Israel is now experiencing a drought, it could be years before the river bed recovers.

The ecological damage will not only kill vegetation, small amphibious life forms and birds, the sewage will sink into the water table and resurface and contaminate water sources meant for Jericho and its surrounding area. As for higher mammals, Wadi Qelt, is a major tourist site for Jews and Arabs a like. Every time I’m there I always see both Jewish and Arab families enjoying themselves splashing in the pools. Now there is a real danger that the park will have to be closed to visitors because of the contamination.

Ironically the Al Bira facility was built with funds from the German government for the PA (no Israeli settlements can connect to it even though Psagot is just up the hill from the facility) and has since basically  operated sporadically, perhaps through neglect or perhaps because the PA didn’t also get a budget to operate it as a gift as well. Did Schultz know about the overflow or did the diplomatic corps around him keep it to themselves? One would think if the German government invested so much in a facility that they would be keeping track of its performance. Here Schultz can’t plead ignorance, at least not because of a language barrier.

For that matter, neither can Schultz ignore that the “water” issue is being exploited by the PA irrespective of whether or not there is a drop of truth in their claims.

Perhaps, I’m over sensitive, but the “debate” over water rights appears only as a sanitized version of past blood libels where Jews have been accused of using gentile children’s blood to make the traditional Passover matza. Differences? For sure. Still it is the same motif of unscrupulous, cruel Jews draining the life out the innocent bodies for their own selfish ends. The message now is that the “settlements” are draining the “poor palestinians” of their livelihood, their pride, even their right to life itself. So the settlers can fill their swimming pools. Schultz, a self defined friend of Israel, and perhaps, also a true one, wasn’t aware of the demagogic nature of PA’s claims?

Shultz aside, how does one explain this little gem from the Jerusalem Post by a veteran op-ed writer Dr. Susan Hattis Rolef .
“There are no official figures regarding the average water consumption of the Jewish inhabitants in the territories (why?), but it is assumed to be much higher (some say even double) the figure for Israelis within the Green Line. ”

Got it Baruch? Not only do the settlements steal water from the “miserable, poor , palestinians” , they also do so by living off the honest efforts of all “real Israelis”. This, of course, is only super sanitized , watered down kool aid. It also happens, to be false. Absoutely false. How do I know? I did a Google search.

What came up is an interesting document , אספקת המים לבית ומתן שירותי ביוב בתחומי המועצות האזוריות where about 50 regional councils were surveyed on their water use per capita. The result? None of the regional councils in Judea and Shomron use a disproportionate amount of water. The highest rate of consumption amongst the regional councils in Judea and Shomron was in the low middle (Hebron Hills with 99 cubic meters per person per annum), the other three were included in the lowest four in water consumption per person (check page 48). Settlers don’t use more than the average: they use considerably less.

While we can not accuse Martin Schultz of being more ignorant of the facts than Ms. Rolef, we can ask why so few journalists seek out the facts in the first place. There has been no report in the English language press about the AL Bira sewage facility, nor has it been extremely easy to find a why some sources say the average PA resident has 70 liters a day while others claim twice that amount . (thanks to Yochanan Visser and his op-ed “How Palestinian propaganda beats Israeli hasbara” for setting the score straight on that).

My fear is that the various left leaning journalists and NPO’s are not interested in the truth but rather in progressing an agenda against “the settlements” and the “occupation”. The EU, which has similar goals , eagerly funds the leftist NPO’s and uses the reports they issue to justify selectively sanctioning “settlement goods” and to justify continuing funding for the same NPO’s. The journalists, largely agreeing with the NPO’s, use the EU denunciations and the NPO reports to amplify for the Israeli public the harm of non compliance. Instead of recycling water, the EU, the NPO’s and the selected journalists have all decided to recycle toxic lies. Such toxicity, even the strongest rain won’t be able to wash it away.

My advice: Pass on the Kool Aid. Instead seek clean, pure water.

About the Author
Shlomo Toren has been a resident of Israel since 1980, and a transportation planner for the last 25 years. He has done demand modeling for the Jerusalem Light Rail and Road 6. He is married to Neera and lives in Shiloh.