Rami Zurayk strikes the chord. Those who seek to present the Israeli occupation of Palestinian/Lebanese/and Syrian lands and the Israeli apartheid against Palestinians – otherwise incorrectly referred to as the “Arab-Israeli conflict” – as a “conflict” between Arabs and Israelis as water related are missing a great deal. Well said, Rami.
A few days ago, someone from the BBC called me to ask me if I could talk about water as a source of conflict in the Middle East, especially between Israelis and Arabs. I told them that the idea is ludicrous, because:
1. There is already a war going on between Israel and the Arab people, including the Palestinians, Lebanese, and others. The cause of the war is not water, and it doesn’t look like it is ending soon.
2. There is no water issue: Israel takes what it wants and refuses to subscribe to international ruling. Arab regimes watch powerlessly and sometimes offer a helping hand. Where are the seeds of the conflict here?
3. Does anyone really believe that the current Arab regimes will go to war with Israel over water? I mean how silly can one be?
The person who was talking to me agreed, but said that this would not make a “good” news item. The concept that water scarcity may trigger war in a “volatile region” that is drying due to climate change is so much more romantic. It is as if Arabs do not really have a problem with occupation, oppression, massacres, theft of land and colonialism: no, they only have one problem with Israel: water. So once you get them around a table to discuss this and share the water among themselves, then the tensions will disappear. Incidentally, one of the problems with this approach is that it presumes a recognition of Israel. Could this be why the “international community of charitable world cops” is always trying to brandish the water scarecrow and make Arabs and Israelis get together and talk about it, as if the future of humanity depended on it? I have a suggestion: why doesn’t Israel give back all it has stolen since its creation, and there will be no water problem left between Israel and the Arabs.