Glass half full: Could Holy Land water crisis unify?

JERUSALEM — How many times a day do you flush the toilet? How often do you get your car washed? Do you turn the faucet off when you soap up your hands? For most people in Western countries these things are part of daily life, and usually little thought is given to the amount of water wasted when doing them.

But in the Holy Land, a four-year drought has made water yet another precious resource over which Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians are struggling.

Wafa Shatleh, 34, carries clothes to store in her laundry room until her family receives running water so she can wash them in Beit Jalla, West Bank, July 29. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

Wafa Shatleh, 34, carries clothes to store in her laundry room until her family receives running water so she can wash them in Beit Jalla, West Bank, July 29. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

While on the one hand water could be the point of contention — which at the moment it is — I would rather see the glass half full, so to speak, and see it as the issue which unites the region. Instead of politicians grappling over the issue, academics, researchers and environmentalists need to come together to find a solution for everyone’s benefit.

So far that scenario seems far from reality. Despite a few academic conferences and dialogue among environmentalists, everybody is mostly fending for themselves.

Though Palestinian and Israeli experts say their society is careful of its water consumption, on the grass-roots level both Palestinians and Israelis tend to wash their floors by the flooding method, which involves throwing copious amounts of water on the tiled floors and squeegeeing the water out through a drainage hole. Both Israelis and Palestinians want to drive in spotlessly clean cars, and in the summer months some people admit to taking two showers daily. Israeli pools are full and some cities even have European-style fountains.

We all need to take shorter showers, let our cars stay dirtier for a while longer and learn how to generally become more efficient in our water usage.

As Maria Khoury, the wife of one of the owners of the Taybeh Brewery told a group of visitors recently: Even a glass of drinking water left by her children goes to good use. Instead of throwng it down the drain, she uses it to water her plants.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 753 other followers