Second, the bend of the Jordan River where we were standing – where tradition says John the Baptist baptized Jesus – was once about 100 meters wide, with rushing rapids. Today it is only 5 to 10 meters wide, with no rapids, that’s why we can comfortably watch Christian pilgrims standing in the middle of the Jordan River to be washed by their priest sin.
Connectivity? Now it’s very hot here for longer time every year (almost 115 degrees last August) essentially the only crop that can be reliably grown anymore is the date palm. But that’s only possible if the palm has a lot of water, and that is now in jeopardy.
Without the fresh Jordan River, not even the date palm could exist here. Recent Middle Eastern Eyes quote One Jordanian farmer on how bad his planting season was: “We used to start planting in July, but now we start in September or even October” because the summer months are too hot. “But then it gets cold very quickly” – sometimes too quickly for vegetables to survive.
How to get more water? The old method is protest, zero-sum thinking — “people only take water for what they think is their legitimate security need,” explains Bromberg. Back in the 1960s, Israel limit the flow of the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee so that it can divert more water through a national water tanker to thirsty Tel Aviv and down to the Negev to make the desert bloom. Syria has strangled its Jordan tributary, the Yarmouk, and Jordan restricts the rest of the Yarmouk and other tributaries that enter the river from its territory.
The once mighty Jordan had turned into a freshwater stream, making the intermittent drought only worse, leading to a large swath of the Dead Sea drying up. Worse, they used the Jordan River as a dumping ground for human waste.
The good news is that Israel and Jordan realize this is a self-defeating act and as part of the 1994 peace accord, they agreed that Israel would reopen the taps from the Sea of Galilee and give Jordan a larger portion of water from the river. But the Jordan River could not keep up. With an increasingly hotter and drier climate in the valley – and 700,000 Jordanians, 30,000 Israelis and 60,000 Palestinians trying to make a living from farming there – a more sustainable solution is needed.
In October 2021, I Written about the outlines of what I hope could become a new kind of peace treaty between the Arabs and the Israelis – a treaty that promotes resiliency between the parties rather than just ending resistance between parties.