Council for the National Interest

NY Times and LA Times Whitewash Israeli Water Theft, Pollution

Feb 17 2014 / 9:57 pm

By Annie Robbins and Phil Weiss.

Mondoweiss, 2/17/14 – Last month the LA Times ran a cute test on its op-ed page to show that Israel doesn’t practice apartheid, and that Palestinians are treated very well by Israel.

Today the NY Times runs an op-ed saying that Israel gives Palestinians all the water they need, and as the region dries out, Palestinians are going to feel very lucky. Doing damage control after last weeks massive brouhaha pulled by Naftali Bennett (w/his party MKs in tow) during EU president Martin Schulz’s Knesset address? Your guess is as good as ours.

Both pieces are by Seth M. Siegel– a founder of Beanstalk, a brand-licensing agency, and of Sixpoint Partners, an investment bank, the NY Times says. The LA Timesalso mentions Beanstalk, and says Siegel is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Neither the LA Times nor the NY Times tells you that Siegel serves on the national board of AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby organization.

More on that water story:

Siegel, who specializes in “extending brands through the strategic and creative development,” has got his work cut out for him cleaning up Israel’s sewage, literally. His New York Times Op-Ed Israeli Water, Mideast Peace?  reads like a love letter for Israeli innovation.

According to Siegel, Palestinians are benefitting from the occupation when it comes to water:

The Palestinians in the West Bank already receive much of their water from Israel’s national water utility and, sovereignty and symbolism aside, neither a two-state solution nor a continuation of the status quo will change that. Given their proximity to Israel, the Palestinians are likely to be among the few Arab winners in the water race.

The West Bank settlement of Ariel sits on a major aquifer, on Palestinian land!

According to Siegel, Israel is “a model” and has “mastered the management of water resources”:

Israel also treats household sewage as a precious resource, reusing more than 80 percent of it for agriculture. In Iran and many Arab countries, sewage is dumped, which can threaten public health by contaminating wells and aquifers.

Iran? Wait a second. Sewage is being dumped in Palestine too– by Israeli settlers.

Here’s a taste of the reality . . . Harvest of excrement: colonists in Occupied Territories pump sewage on to Palestinian farm land.

July 29, 2011 Ein Yabrud, northeast of Ramallah:  State authorities stole private Palestinian land and used it to build a waste facility based on a fictitious permit, for the benefit of the nearby settlement of Ofra.

August 7, 2012, Palestinians say “The bad odor is constant here and nowadays it has become normal to find rodents and insects in this area” because Israeli settlement waste contaminates the environment:

staring at the smelly polluted water flowing less than 10 meters from the houses of his village located between Salfit and Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank – “It’s not only about the smell. In the village a lot of people suffer from skin diseases, asthmas, and other illnesses.” The waste water stemming from Ariel settlement has played a major role in the contamination of water and in the pollution of the environment in the Salfit area. Due to the concentration of pollutant elements in this zone, many agricultural fields have been destroyed and many animals and plants have been killed. Moreover, many infectious waterborne diseases, like diarrhea, have broken out especially among children.

The inhabitants of Wadi Fukin and Nahalin, south-west of Bethlehem, face the same problems. Surrounded by the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit, these two villages, known for the quality of the agricultural products, are constantly threatened by the flow of waste water coming from the nearby settlement. “Inside Beitar Illit there is a waste water treatment facility but it can’t handle the amount of waste water it receives and as a consequence it overflows reversing untreated waste water onto the agricultural fields” explains Dib Najajrah, a resident of Wadi Fukin. “Moreover, in the last years the settlers have started attacking our crops by deliberately pumping the waste water coming out of the settlement into the cultivated land of Nahalin.”

Nov 18, 2012 Gaza:

an Israeli air strike hit a water distribution truck in Beit Lahia, destroying it completely and killing the driver Suhail Hamada and his son.

“I have approximately two days stock of drinking water and food,” Mahmoud Sa’adallah, 32, resident of Bait Lahia and a father of five says, “we will have no option but to drink the municipal water which is too salty”. Mahmoud doesn’t know how his children are going to survive in the coming days with the lack of basic necessities if the offensive continues. “My brother and neighbors, for whom the vendor was coming, have already started to drink from the tap”.

The vast majority of the residents of the Gaza strip rely on purchasing desalinated water from private vendors as piped water coming from Gaza’s sole source of fresh water, is too contaminated with chemicals. [1]

From last March. Settler sewage destroys agricultural lands. “Local community organizers from Qusin reported abnormally high cancer rates in the village”:

Land in village of Qusin used as garbage dump by settlers
ISM 27 Mar by IWPS — On Wednesday March 27 at 15:00 the village of Qusin organized a tour of a nearby quarry that is regularly used as a garbage dump. The residents of Qusin invited the Minister of the Environment, IWPS and the International Solidarity Movement to inspect the amount of Israeli trash that has accumulated in the recent weeks. The quarry had been partially refilled with dirt and gravel covering the majority of the trash, leaving three large piles of plastic, wood and metal exposed. The effect was that of a large land fill in the middle of a mined industrial zone. The organizers of the visit explained that the toxins from the trash are seeping through the soil into the water sources of the nearby villages, endangering the local residents. Local community organizers from Qusin reported abnormally high cancer rates in the village. Residents of Qusin have started to regularly visit and protest as a community at the dump site.

Also last year, from Sebastia: Sewage flows from the nearby settlement of Shavei Shomron. Palestinians demonstrate against sewage settlers spill onto their land.

Six months before this 2010 video was shot the Israeli Civil Administration tried peddling the claim the flooding of Beit Ummar with raw sewage was the result of “an accidental power malfunction” from the adjacent illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Etzion.

Destroying farmland and vineyards, contaminating Palestinian drinking water, this is no accident. It’s an ongoing environmental nightmare and certainly not limited to a few the villages, it’s routine.


Because of geography and hydrology, the Palestinians’ water future is closely tied to Israel’s. In just the few years of Hamas control of Gaza, the water supply there has been polluted, and though no solution to its coming water crisis is likely without an Israeli role, Hamas has refused to cooperate with Israel.

Allison Deger adds, the water crisis in Gaza is because Israel bombed the water treatment facilities. Israel may not have a role in fixing the crisis, but it sure did cause it. Oh, but then again, Israel could have a hand in fixing the water crisis.B’tselem writes:

Israel has forbidden the entry of equipment and materials needed to rehabilitate the water and wastewater-treatment systems there. The prohibition has remained despite the recent easing of the siege.

Funny anecdote: in 2006, the same year Israel was bombing Gaza’s water infrastructure, Seth Siegel was going on tour in Israel with magician David Blaine. Maybe that’s why he missed this big chunk of information…?

The Jerusalem Fund: The Water Crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

“Israel’s discriminatory and unfair water policy is illegal under international law to the detriment of the Palestinian’s economy and health.”.

Posted by on Feb 17 2014 . Filed under Featured articles, Media distortion, News from the Middle East . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 . Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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