Rivals of the Jordan River

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Israel’s lifeline, the National Water Carrier. Photo from National Geographic.

The word rival stems from the Latin word rivalis, which is defined as competition for a river or stream. The sense of rivalry has been fomenting in the Middle East for ages, most evident in the Jordan River.

In 1964 Israel completed a National Water Carrier, to transport the water from the Sea of Galilee to the Coastal Plain. This was a large cause of tension amongst Israel and its neighbors, leading to the Six Day War of 1967. The outcome of the war was the capturing by Israel of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights (Britannica).

Since occupying the West Bank, Israel has built deep wells in the area, in order to supply its cities with fresh water. On the other hand, Palestinian access to water has been limited to shallow wells, natural springs, and rainfall (National Geographic).

Jews, Muslims, Christians alike revere this river, as a result of its historical significance to the three religions. However, a place severely polluted by all neighbors with untreated wastewater and agricultural runoff, does not even come close to feeling like a revered site. It is time to put the rivalries behind and take care of the river, or expect the imminent petering away of the lifeline of this region.

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