River Jordan: A Thirst for Peace?

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Measuring sticks at the Ziglab Dam in Jordan.

National Geographic’s recent ‘Water’ issue highlighted the River Jordan as a possible cause through which a path to peace could be found…

National Geographic "Water" issue

A source of conflict between Israel and its neighbors for decades, the Jordan River is now depleted by drought, pollution, and overuse. Could the fight to save it forge a path toward peace?

For a biblical stream whose name evokes divine tranquillity, the Jordan River is nobody’s idea of peace on Earth. From its rowdy headwaters near the war-scarred slopes of Mount Hermon to the foamy, coffee-colored sludge at the Dead Sea some 200 miles downstream, the Jordan is fighting for survival in a tough neighborhood—the kind of place where nations might spike the riverbank with land mines, or go to war over a sandbar. Water has always been precious in this arid region, but a six-year drought and expanding population conspire to make it a fresh source of conflict among the Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians vying for the river’s life-giving supply.

All of which makes the scene one morning last July all the more remarkable. Accompanied by military escort, three scientists—an Israeli, a Palestinian, and a Jordanian—are standing knee-deep in the Jordan River. They are nearly 40 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, under the precarious ruins of a bridge that was bombed during the Six Day War of June 1967. The scientists are surveying the river for Friends of the Earth Middle East (FOEME), a regional NGO dedicated to building peace through environmental stewardship. It’s a scorching hot day in a former war zone, but if these men are concerned about the danger of heat stroke, getting clonked by a chunk of falling concrete, or stepping on a mine washed downstream by a flood, they’re hiding it well.

Read the rest at National Geographic…

Don’t miss the stunning imagery and animated map accompanying the article:

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