By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
Thanks to Martin Schulz, president of the European parliament, and Naftali Bennett, Israeli cabinet minister and leader of the Habaayit Hayehudi party, we’ve all become experts on the amount of water Arab residents of the West Bank get in comparison to what their neighbors, the settlers, use.
You don’t need any knowledge to pass opinions; your political orientation will do. If you’re for the settlers you’ll insist that the Arabs have “more or less” the same amount as the Jews. If, on the other hand, you support Labor or Meretz you’re likely to heed the words of their respective leaders who told their colleagues in the Knesset that Schulz, a known friend of Israel, was absolutely right.
If like me you find it difficult to believe politicians, especially when they present contradictory “facts” on the same issue, you may wish to heed the words by a reader in response to my reflections on the Knesset fracas. He is a recognized expert on matters concerning water, including the situation in Israel. He writes:
“While I’ve seen different numbers than what you quote, the magnitude of the ratio of Israeli to Palestinian per capita daily use is about right. The difference highlights both environmental and social justice issues.”
If science alone isn’t enough, you may turn to Friday’s editorial in the Jerusalem Post, a newspaper not known for its support of either Labor or Meretz. Admitting that the issue is complex and recognizing that the Arab residents have more water now than they had under Jordanian occupation, the editorial states:
“While Schulz might have quoted the wrong figures, he came very close to being right about the ratios…. According to Friends of the Earth’s best estimates, municipal water consumption per capita per day in Israel in 2011 was 250 liters, compared to an average of 70 liters for Palestinians. —
While Israelis living both inside the Green Line and in settlements in Judea and Samaria enjoy unlimited water supply, the situation for Palestinians living in the West Bank is much different. Water supply is sporadic, even in cities such as Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus.”
Which brings the Jerusalem Post editorial to this conclusion:
“Helping Palestinians to solve the water issues is not only the right thing to do, it would provide considerable political gains in the eyes of the international community at a relatively low cost.
Instead of lashing out at Schulz, who was only conveying to the Knesset the widely felt sentiment among our Palestinian neighbors that our water policy is discriminatory, our lawmakers should take to heart the German politician’s message and take steps to remedy the situation.”
To which we can only say אמן ואמן