. We’ve Got to Talk about Water and the Middle East | London Progressive Journal
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We’ve Got to Talk about Water and the Middle East

Sun 1st Nov 2015

This is the text of a lecture given in Dorchester on Wednesday 28 October 2015. The map of Greater Israel is easily accessible on the internet. Similarly, the data on water consumption by Israelis and Palestinians can be easily accessed on the internet.

In a recent talk to the National Press Club in Washington, Gideon Levy, the veteran columnist for Haaretz in Israel, articulated the three principles that allowed “Israelis to live easily with the brutal tyranny that is the occupation .”:

1. "We deeply believe that we are the chosen people, Then we have the right to do what we want."

2. "Never in history has the occupier presented himself as the victim. And not only the victim – but the only victim around.”

3. “Israelis have undertaken the “systematic dehumanisation of the Palestinians. And this allows Israelis to live with everything. Because the occupation does not involve questions on human rights.”

I would like to suggest a fourth and very powerful principle that allows Israel to get away with nothing short of genocide:

The Americans in particular and Christian evangelists in general support Israel unconditionally and constantly look the other way whatever it does. At its crudest, we can see this in many ways including Kerry’s recent obfuscation over the Aqsa, his refusal to see the problem for what it was, i.e. Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian lands including its consistent humiliation and oppression of Palestinians. These shenanigans are colluded with by what can only be described as Christian Zionists who use the Bible to justify occupation, dispossession, imprisonment, torture, theft of property and murder in a way that bears not the slightest resemblance to anything the Jesus Christ ever said or did.

I speak as a Palestinian with a difference. I am a Palestinian who passionately believes that we can make peace with the Jewish population of Palestine and share the land in a harmonious and peaceful coexistence. I also believe that what is stopping us, apart from the religious dimensions of the conflict which I wish, here and now, to put aside as excuses for every negative action perpetrated by either side, what is stopping us is pure greed. Greed for land by Israelis, greed for resources by Israelis, Americans, Arabs and other conscienceless human beings, greed for power as is seen by the Sisi’s behaviour and, indeed, by the behaviour of the majority of Arab leaders, racism as is seen by Zionists’ consistent representation of Arabs and Palestinians as less than human (no change there on the horrors of the Crusades launched allegedly for God but in reality for real estate – no more and no less).

This evening’s focus will be the one over arching aspect of pure greed for resources.

We all know that Sisi’s power grab had nothing to do with the Egyptian people or their human rights. It had everything to do with the Egyptian military’s age old finger in every profitable business in Egypt.

Egypt’s military has always been a business with the potential for enormous profit most of which bypasses the ordinary Egyptian and filters straight into the military leaders’ pockets. What facilitates this behaviour is Egypt notorious moral laxity entirely predicated on nepotism, corruption and dishonesty – all wonderfully taught to them by the British Empire School of Business.

It does not take a genius to work out that Bush and Blair’s occupation of Iraq had nothing to do with WMD (which even a child knew Iraq did not have), nothing to do with liberating the unfortunate Iraqis from a tyrant like Saddam Hussein (at one point our best friend in the Arab world – as was Osama Bin Laden during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan), nothing to do with bringing democracy to the Arab savage… It had everything to do with oil.

Sounds familiar? Let us take a short trip to 1917 when the Arabs were liberated from the Ottomans to be given their independence in return for their help during the Great War for Civilisation. The rest is history: Sykes and Picot carved up the Arab world between Britain and France. The MacMahon-Hussein Protocols were shelved. The Balfour Declaration contradicted all of the above!

You know, you get to the stage where repeating these histories becomes so boring! Were the Arabs that stupid?

As an Arab, I plead the Fifth so that I do not give self-incriminating information. Pleading the First protecting my right to free speech would not be possible because, as a Palestinian, I have no voice.

When, in 1967, I tried, as a naïve undergraduate, to explain to Catholic friend of mine that Israel had expansionist intentions, he looked amazed, shocked. He argued that Israel had the most moral army in the world and that it was desperate to make peace with an overwhelming Arab enemy.

Nothing in the world would convince him otherwise, not even the following map.

Forty eight years late, Jewish Settlements make it impossible to withdraw from the West Bank and allow the creation of a Palestinian State. I wonder where this friend is now. I would so like to ask him what he thinks. Having said that, it is only recently that I had to listen to cruel tirade of a so-called Christian friend who, eyes wide open, berated my people for occupying Palestine and not accepting the Jews’ right of return. After all, she ranted, God gave them the land. Well, he did nothing of the sort. And if he did, as Ben Gurion said, he was not my god so why should I, as a Palestinian, accept this self-appointed estate agent disposing of land that does not belong to him since it belongs to my god… of course! And on we go till we have eliminated each other entirely. I ask again, are we stupid?

In his Complete Diaries, Vol. II. p. 711, Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, says that the area of the Jewish State stretches: "From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates."

Rabbi Fischmann, member of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared in his testimony to the U.N. Special Committee of Enquiry on 9 July 1947: "The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon."

NOTE: Sometimes the term Nile to the Euphrates is used, whereas the Brook of Egypt may be another lesser waterway about 100 miles East of the Nile. Either way, it adds up to the confiscation of a huge amount of Arab territory.

Enough of that. It will get us no where. Let us talk about water.

The BBC (known affectionately amongst us Palestinians as The Biased Broadcasting Corruption) has not been particularly kind to Palestinians. It has largely ignored much that may be of use to Palestinian aspirations – rather as do most of the Western media. Even the BBC could not deny the influence of water on the Palestinian – Israeli conflict. Here is an extract of a recent analysis by the BBC:

“In the 1967 war Israel gained exclusive control of the waters of the West Bank and the Sea of Galilee, although not the Litani. [It did that in its invasion of Lebanon which lasted some twenty years until the Lebanese Hezbollah successfully caused Israel to withdraw.]

Those resources - the West Bank's mountain aquifer and the Sea of Galilee - give Israel about 60% of its fresh water, a billion cubic metres per year. [The word “gives” hardly fits in with an occupying force simply helping itself to water from the occupied territories.]

Heated arguments rage about the rights to the mountain aquifer. Israel, and Israeli settlements, take about 80% of the aquifer's flow, leaving the Palestinians with 20%. [And this, of course, does not come under the heading ‘Apartheid’].

Israel says the proportion of water it uses has not changed substantially since the 1950s. The rain which replenishes the aquifer may fall on the occupied territory, but the water does flow down into pre-1967 Israel. [This logic would be hilarious were it not so tragic for the Palestinian population].

Palestinians say water politics are just part of the injustice of occupation.

But the Palestinians say they are prevented from using their own water resources by a belligerent military power, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to buy water from their occupiers at inflated prices. [The wonderful use “But the Palestinians say…” introduces the desirable doubt that benefits Israel’s continued theft of Palestinian water which, in turn, it sells back to the occupied Palestinians who own it. But, according to my Christian Evangelist friend, that is all right, the God of Israel wills it thus and those fake Muslim Palestinians should bloody well lump it!]

Moreover, Israel allocates to its citizens, including those living in settlements in the West Bank deemed illegal under international law, between three and five times more water than the Palestinians. [I, as a Palestinian, will confirm that we Palestinians need very little water because we never wash, we only drink sweet tea and we are severely allergic to fresh water – rather in the same way that we enjoy being tortured and killed – a national pastime which allies neatly to the true god who never chose us unfortunately!]

This, Palestinians say, is crippling to their agricultural economy.” [Again, the BBC simply reports what the Palestinians say. We know, of course, that, being mostly Muslim, they can not help but lie naturally. It is in their genes – bless them!]

Incidentally, as ever, the BBC includes a picture of a kind hearted and humane Israeli soldier administering a bottle of water to the lips of a blindfolded Palestinian citizen! This speaks volumes for the civilising influence of those wonderful Europeans and Americans stealing other peoples’ lands.

If matters look bad for Palestinians in the West Bank, they are dire for Palestinians in Gaza.

And there is much talk of the need for the waters of the Litani River in Lebanon, the Nile in Egypt, endless rivulets in the Golan Heights already occupied in Syria, the Euphrates in Iraq…

What more can we say?

Let us talk about other resources. Like the newly found gas off Gaza, off Egypt, off Lebanon… There is not a snowflake’s chance in hell of these newly discovered natural resources not falling into the hands of Israel, probably through conquest, or through Sisi like concessions in return for a small sum of a few billion, or through non-indigenous companies taking over in return for giving the gullible natives a few bottles of coca cola, some cigarettes and, of course, satellite television. And you must admit, this is a great improvement on the few jars of beads given to four or so hundred rather hungry Manhattoes in the 1600s in return for a small and meaningless little bit of worthless real estate now called Manhattan. Incidentally, I derive great hope from the knowledge that there are today some four hundred well fed Native Americans living in the small reservation in Inwood Park. That means that my great grandchildren will be allowed to have a small Bantustan somewhere in the Negev desert where they can carve pretty little nothings for tourists who like to study the savage in his or her habitat. There is a hopeful message in every historic incident.

Any other resources that may be of interest to Israel?

Oh yes indeed. There is cheap labour as evidenced by Palestinians providing the labour that no Israeli would dream of doing. There is the ubiquitous oil the price of which keeps collapsing on the market and rising at the pumps. There are taxes paid by the occupied Palestinians to the State of Israel. There are, according to an NGO friend, the ability to drive into Palestinian territories for gambling (not allowed in Israel), sexual services (much denied by everyone except the girls and women at the end of an abusive road).

There is even cultural theft. Recently Waitrose advertised a special treat for its customers: Israeli food. I was so pleasantly surprised to find that almost all the food listed was food that I was brought up on: Falafel, Hummus, stuffed vine leaves, lentil soup, Mujadara, Kufta, Baba Ghanoush, Fattouch, Tabobuleh, Baclava, Kenafè, yogurt, pitta bread, Za’atar, Kubba, halva and so much else. I wrote to Waitrose voicing a plaintive objection and received the usual superb service offered anyone who dares stand up for Palestinian culture: a roaring silence. I now shop at Lidl which is also cheaper and nearer to my home.

That is enough. We can go on all night. Let us leave some gems for future meetings.

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