Historic Pipeline Agreement
On December 9 in Washington, D.C., Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement on laying a water pipeline to link the Red Sea with the Dead Sea.
The pipeline, which will take three years to complete, will help slow the drying up of the Dead Sea with the inflow of water from the Red Sea. It will also provide the region with millions of cubic meters of drinking water.
Regional Cooperation, and National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom signed for Israel. Water and Irrigation Minister Hazem Al Nasser signed for Jordan. Water Authority Minister Dr. Shaddad Attili signed for the Palestinian Authority.
The pipeline will be 180 kilometers long and will pass through Jordanian territory, channeling 100 million cubic meters of water per annum northward from the Red Sea. The estimated cost for the project is approximately $300 to $400 million, as communicated by the Israel Ministry of Regional Cooperation. While the World Bank will support the project with a cash injection, millions of dollars will be raised from donor countries and philanthropic sources.
Approximately 80 million cubic meters will be desalinated at a facility to be built in Aqaba, Jordan, on the Red Sea. This will produce about 100 million cubic meters of drinking water. The Arava region and Eilat will receive 30 to 50 million cubic meters of water, while Jordan will receive 30 million cubic meters of water for use in its southern regions. In addition, Israel will sell Jordan another 50 million cubic meters of water from the Kinneret for use in the north. The project will cover Jordan’s need for drinking water for about a decade. About 30 million cubic meters of water from the Kinneret will be pumped for the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.
“This is a historic agreement that realizes a dream of many years and the dream of Herzl. The agreement is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance,” said the Minister of Regional Cooperation and Infrastructure, Silvan Shalom. “I am pleased that an investment of years has reached its hoped-for conclusion and will benefit Israel and the residents of the region as a whole,” he added.
Jordanian Water Minister Hazem Nasser spoke about the humanitarian aspects of the project: “This is an agreement with a humanitarian aspect, designed to aid those who need water. There is an ecological aspect as well, since we are trying to save the Dead Sea.”
The head of the Palestinian Water Authority, Shaddad Attili, stressed that in spite of the conflict, “the agreement is unrelated to the Oslo Accords. The beauty is that this is a regional deal, and it is important to everyone to save the Dead Sea. Despite political issues and the conflict, we proved that we can all work together.”
Environmentalists are not happy with the decision, with many highly concerned about the environmental consequences. Some are warning that mixing Red Sea and Dead Sea waters could upset the unique chemistry of the Dead Sea and the ecosystem, while discoloring the Dead Sea’s famous blue waters. Other concerns highlight damage to coral reefs in the Red Sea as well as contamination to the underground water of Israel’s Arava desert.
— Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency
Study Results Show High Israel and Community Engagement
At a time that the Jewish community is looking to invest in the next great new Jewish idea, a new study shows how a “new” idea from 80 years ago that created Zionist youth movements has produced lifelong community involvement by its participants.
Habonim Dror North America, an autonomous Labor Zionist youth movement in the US and Canada, was founded in 1935. Today it annually serves more than 2,000 Jewish youth ages 8 to 24 through seven summer camps, Israel programs and year-round programming in major cities across North America.
Building Progressive Zionist Activists: Exploring the Impact of Habonim Dror, authored by Prof. Steven M. Cohen and Steven Fink, describes this impact, drawing upon a survey of nearly 2,000 alumni of Habonim Dror camps and programs, ages 20 to 83.
Dr. Cohen sums up the study findings: “The Habonim Dror experience often seems to exert a powerful impact upon identification with Israel long after the alumni have completed their active involvement in the movement. Significant involvement with Habonim Dror is also associated with developing progressive political values in both the American and Israeli context, and with lifelong bonds with the Habonim Dror friends of one’s youth.”
In California, Habonim Dror lives on at Camp Gilboa. In the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s 2012-2013 survey, 92 percent of parents said that at Camp Gilboa their children experience a sense of belonging. Similarly, 93 percent of alumni in the study said that they remain connected to their Habonim Dror friends.
According to the study, 70 percent of Habonim Dror alumni lived in Israel for at least 5 months. Alumni also contribute both their time and money to the Jewish community at high levels:
• 56 percent actively volunteer for a charitable organization, a majority of which are Jewish organizations, with19 percent currently holding leadership positions in multiple Jewish or Israel-related organizations.
• 61 percent donate to Jewish organizations, including their local Jewish Federations.
• 70 percent belong or contribute to at least one progressive organization that focuses on economic and social justice, human rights, peace and the environment.
The full study is available at http://study.hdcamp.org.
According to Jerry Silverman, president/CEO of Jewish Federations of North America, “When I was CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, the organization conducted a survey of Jewish federation executives across North America. The FJC discovered that more sitting federation executives came from Habonim Dror than from any other camp Movement. It was a strong statement to the leadership building nature of the Habonim Dror camp model.”
Hasia Diner, professor of American Jewish History at New York University, added, “Habonim taught us to think critically and even as youngsters our madrichim (counselors) pushed us to participate in adult-level debates. It is not surprising that so many of us became academics, writers and individuals involved professionally in analyzing how the world works. Even among my fellow American Jewish historians, an inordinate number come from the ranks of Habonim graduates, shaped as we were by intense Movement discussions which had no parallels in our ordinary school lives.”
Added Nigel Savage, Hazon founder and executive director, “This is an incredibly significant study, because of the length of the time period that is being covered. The impact of immersive experiential education is persistent – it has an impact in many cases years and decades after the experience itself. And I see this literally on a daily basis – there are a slew of Habonim alumni playing a key role in Hazon at both the staff and lay level.”
In the words of Jeremy J. Fingerman, CEO, Foundation for Jewish Camp, “Habonim Dror is continually working to remain a strong, relevant force in the lives of young people and, as this study confirms, clearly these efforts are paying off. The Habonim Dror camping system – seven overnight camps across North America – shows vitality, growth and impact. We are proud to partner with them in creating summers that have a powerful effect long after a camper’s last summer.”