Israel’s Arava Desert is a dry and salt-encrusted wasteland getting about one inch of water each year. At least, it would be a wasteland anywhere but Israel. As things stand, the region’s dairies host happy cows producing eight million gallons of milk yearly. Bell pepper crops flourish, and Kibbutzim are lush, with vineyards yielding shiraz and sauvignon blanc. Israel is home to one of the finest can-do spirits in the world and ready to benefit the world. Even her enemies are welcome in peaceful partnership.
Much of Israel’s agricultural land features the same conditions. Wasteful farming practices – such as flooding a field to irrigate it – depleted what water there was by the 1960s. The Israelis pioneered drip irrigation. At one stroke, they delivered water to roots more efficiently and cut water losses to evaporation; crop yields grew exponentially. They committed to treating 80% of household sewage as a precious (fertilizing) resource. Their neighbors still tend to dump sewage, threatening public health through contamination of wells and aquifers.
Innovative agriculture is not new to Israelis. When Galilee was a malarial swamp in the 1880s, they planted eucalyptus trees to drain the land and transformed the Galil into some of the most fertile farmland in the world. Helping their neighbors is likewise something not new.
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Before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Israel came to Iran’s rescue, partnering with the Iranians in the developing of the water resources of both nations. The cooperation began in 1962, following a severe earthquake in Qazvin, Iran, resulting in twelve thousand dead and the destruction of a chain of water wells. Hundreds of thousands more Iranians were left without drinking water. Israel flew in drilling teams; newer and safer artesian wells were so successful Iran hired Israel to develop her water resources across the board. Beginning in 1968, Israel brought her expertise – still under development – to bear in the building of desalination plants for Iran.
With the revolution, the Israeli crews had to flee for their lives. Today, the plants they built and the wells they dug are aging while Israel receives half her drinking water from the seawater treated in her ever-improving desalination plants at home. It is purer, cleaner, and less salty than freshwater sources. It is available to any nation willing to work with Israel. Some – even in the region – are willing; others are not.
Egypt has ten times Israel’s population and fifty times her water. Her water usage methods are antiquated; but with the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood from power, there is potential for Israel to bless her neighbor. In Gaza, controlled by Hamas, there is massive pollution of the available water. No solution is likely without Israeli help, but Hamas refuses it. Yemen is another regional neighbor; Yemenis may literally run out of water in fifteen years–yet radicalism likely precludes their accepting help from Israel. California – mired in drought– could benefit from Israeli know-how, but there has been no interest from Sacramento. Political correctness hobbles California, and the hatred of Mideastern Islamists brooks no positive contact with Jews.
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News from the US is not all negative. The University of Chicago recently concluded an agreement with Ben Gurion University for cooperative development of water technology and resources that will benefit our two nations and many more. Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, not known for Zionist sympathies despite his Jewish background, flew to Israel to endorse the agreement. There is hope for mutual cooperation and understanding grounded in mutual need, although it is highly unlikely the forces of hate will cooperate when only the needs of their people are at stake. I intend no sarcasm; the hatred really burns that deeply.
On the other hand, what we see here is one more promise of God dynamically coming to pass. The prophet Zechariah writes in 8:12-13:
The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give you these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.
It was never God’s plan to bless Israel and curse everyone else – or anyone else. It was always His plan to bless all others through His blessings on Israel. All that is required of the rest of us is to recognize His hand at work in Israel and joy in it. But there is no viable alternative to that recognition and joy.
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