How To See Palestine: An ABC of OccupationMain MenuWhat is the ABC of Occupation?The sight of occupationThe AlphabetA-Z through PalestineThemesPhoto galleriesThe PhotographsNicholas Mirzoefff315c7b2aa506ef7a94489d0482ffdd6247a10ce
12016-08-02T12:07:07-07:00Nicholas Mirzoefff315c7b2aa506ef7a94489d0482ffdd6247a10ceLiving With and Under OccupationNicholas Mirzoeff4structured_gallery2016-08-13T11:54:26-07:00Nicholas Mirzoefff315c7b2aa506ef7a94489d0482ffdd6247a10ce
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1media/Garden Center Dead Sea.jpg2016-08-13T10:34:17-07:00W is for Water4The 21st century resourceimage_header2016-09-19T12:01:23-07:00It is widely predicted that water will be the scarce and contested resource in the 21st century that oil was in the 20th. In Palestine it already is. The tap water is drinkable but people don't much, because it is so chlorinated. Drinkable water comes in plastic bottles that pile up everywhere. There is no recycling in Palestine, although it is common in the 48.
While Palestinians are limited in their use of water, the regime seems to delight in showing that it can use as much it wants. In addition to sequestering the Jordan river, expensive desalination plants are making usable water from the Mediterranean. The result is that you can see lush green garden centers in the desert, like the one above near the Dead Sea.
Settlement housing projects are underway in the area, advertised on roadside billboards. It's not quite 'if you lived here, you'd be home by now' as these are remote desert locations. It's more: 'if you lived here, you'd pay half what you pay in Israel and get all kinds of government subsidy, plus further the occupation.' That's a winning combination for many Israelis and, it should be said, New Yorkers. As is typical in the global real estate boom, settlement houses are often owned by non-residents, often from Brooklyn, who support the occupation as a religious and financial project. Meanwhile, the Bedouin at al-Araqib remain without water, electricity or other services. To even get to the village, you have to drive off-road through a gap that has been created in the crash barrier by the side of the official road. Water comes, when it does, from the well that has to be hauled up by hand and then carried around the encampment.
The population in Palestine is young and increasing rapidly. The need for water is growing accordingly, even as 2016 has been a spectacularly hot year across the Middle East, even by the climate-changed standard in which every year is the hottest ever. Unlike other 'environmental' concerns, the competition for water is much discussed because it is so fundamental. The vaunted regime achievement of 'making the desert bloom' is, after all, nothing more than the diversion of water. The alluvial land is very fertile: just add water. Bronze age structures to collect and divert water still stand in the desert, showing this is scarcely a new endeavor.
Nor is water shortage an exceptional issue for Palestine. From Flint, Michigan, to the townships of South Africa and even megacities like Sao Paolo, to say nothing of Los Angeles, even water is now a hierarchical resource.