Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | January 15, 2013

January 2013 – Friends of the Earth Middle East – Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

Concert with Ahinoam Nini, at Battir

On December 10th, FoEME held a remarkable event, in the form of a concert, in the Palestinian village of Battir. The event aimed to raise awareness about the route of the Separation Barrier that is planned to be built in an area of unique cultural landscape, an area on the tentative list of World Heritage. Battir is an exceptional example of terraced agricultural fields that date back more than 4,000 years. It represents an area of tremendous ecological and cultural significance to all the people of the region and humanity as a whole.

Concert with Ahinoam Nini at Battir

Concert with Ahinoam Nini at Battir

FoEME brought world renowned Israeli singer Noa (Ahinoam Nini) to perform and add her name to protect the site. Palestinian singers and dancers were also present. More than 300 Israelis and Palestinians, mostly local residents, were in attendance to show their support.

The event sought to bring attention to FoEME’s petition to the Israeli High Court calling on the Israeli government to reconsider their actions and not proceed with the planned route of the Separation Barrier.

For more photos of the event, visit this Flicker album and click here to see a short video of the event.

For a great amount of press coverage on the concert and the petition to the High Court, see this press coverage page.

While on December 13th, FoEME was pleased that the Israeli High Court accepted FoEME’s petition against building the Separation Barrier as originally planned, the Government and the IDF have 90 days to present an alternative.  Until then, FoEME will keep up the pressure by holding ‘WALKS to BATTIR’ on Friday mornings, the first one being held on January 4th.  All are welcome to join and show their support to preserve this environmental heritage. Visit our Events page for more information.

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Cross Border East / West Jerusalem Teacher’s Meeting

Aiming to advance environmental education, awareness and activism in East and West Jerusalem – two Good Water Neighbors “partnering” communities that share the Kidron Basin watershed – a joint field trip was conducted for teachers and educators from both communities.

Cross Border East-West Jerusalem Teacher's Meeting

Cross Border East-West Jerusalem Teacher’s Meeting

The tour introduced the main issues FoEME deals with in the Jerusalem vicinity: water supply issues, cross border sewage management, conservation vs. development, and terraced landscape conservation. The Good Water Neighbors educational activity program was presented and experienced throughout the day.  A visit to the unique village of Battir and a presentation of the Battir Landscape and Eco-museum concluded the day, leaving everyone with insights, inspiration and anticipation for ongoing cooperation.

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Dr. Rafay gives lecture at Porter School

Last month, FoEME had the pleasure to host Ahmad Rafay Alam, a Pakistani lawyer and environmental activist, advocate of the High Court and Vice President of the Pakistan Environmental Law Association.

Dr. Rafay and his wife Aysha visited various GWN communities together with the Kosovar delegation, and on December 2, he gave a well-received lecture on the Indus Water Treaty and possible Pakistani Indian water cooperation, at Tel Aviv University in association with FoEME, The Porter School of Environmental Studies and TAU’s Legal Education Clinic, Faculty of Law.  Read more on this blog

Ahmad Rafay Alam - environmental lawyer and activist

Ahmad Rafay Alam – environmental lawyer and activist

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Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark – New Ranger Station

SHE Ecopark New Ranger Station

SHE Ecopark New Ranger Station

FoEME is pleased to report on a new agreement made with the Jordanian Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Forestry – to build a wireless ranger station on the premises of the SHE EcoPark. The Ministry will allocate full- time rangers to monitor the area in order to prevent goats’ intrusion, fire and hunting.

Five rangers will be posted on rotating shifts at the EcoPark 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. FoEME is providing the station building, water and electricity connection, furniture and air-conditioning.  We are pleased that this step now connects the SHE EcoPark to the national forest network!

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Cross border Youth Camp in SHE EcoPark

On December 14th & 15th a cross border youth camp was held at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark in Jordan for 18 youth “Water Trustees” from the Jordan Valley Regional Council in Israel and their two neighboring communities from Jordan; Al Himma and Tabket Fahel.  FoEME aims to hold smaller camps this season to promote better interaction between the neighboring communities.

The youth water trustees learn about the park's eco facilities

The youth water trustees learn about the park’s eco facilities

Starting with several ‘ice-breaking’ games, the group then toured the Parks’ ecofacilities, including water reuse and waste recycling, the ecological dome, and then went a tour of al Himma’s Neighbor’s Path in which the youth had the chance to swim in al Himma’s hot springs. The participants discussed the shared water resources between the two countries and drew a large painting of the Jordan River with all streams and valleys branching out of it.  Read more in this blog

The “Good Water Neighbors” project is funded by USAID’s Conflict Management and Mitigation program, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the European Union’s Partnership for Peace program and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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“It’s in our hands” photo exhibition – Baka el Gharbia

Baka el Gharbia has been going through a dramatic change in relation to its resident’s awareness to environmental hazards.  Residents are volunteering in city initiatives calling for cleaning up public spaces and improving infrastructure.  Signs of improvement are already showing.

'It's in our hands' exhibition

‘It’s in our hands’ exhibition

In the context of the Protecting Ground Water project, Baka Gharbia created a photography exhibition with photos that vividly illustrate the damage caused by environmental hazards in the community. Nonetheless, some photos show the positive change that is already occurring and the enormous potential of Baka el Gharbia as a clean and prosperous city. The exhibition, entitled “It’s in our hands”, will move between schools, community centers and the local “El-Kasami” college and will continue emphasizing, for the people of Baka, the challenges and opportunities to improve their quality of life.  Click here for local articles that covered the event, including many photos.

Also, the “Protecting Ground Water” project published new project brochures this month, so far in English, Hebrew & French, with Spanish and Arabic soon to follow.

The “Protecting Ground Water” project is supported by the European Union’s ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme.

Project Brochure

Project Brochure

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Jordan River – New Faith Based Advocacy Program

This year FoEME is launching a widespread faith based advocacy campaign to support ongoing advocacy efforts toward the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.  Throughout the year FoEME will be partnering with individuals and communities to champion the cause of the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River through tours and events in the region and in the international community.

As part of this effort FoEME is developing faith based toolkits aimed at advancing understanding, awareness and action surrounding the Lower Jordan River’s rehabilitation.  The toolkits will bring together texts, songs, stories and other materials associated with the Jordan River in each of the three Abrahamic traditions in order to strengthen the awareness of connections between Judaism, Christianity and Islam and water in general and the Lower Jordan River specifically.  These toolkits will be designed to serve faith based community efforts in support of the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.

New Faith Based Advocacy Program

New Faith Based Advocacy Program

Click on the link to read the CALL FOR CONSULTANCY PROPOSALS for the faith based toolkit project.  For more information or to learn how your community can get involved please contact FoEME at info@foeme.org.

FoEME’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Global Nature Fund / Ursula Merz Foundation, and the Osprey Foundation.

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AUJA EcoCenter – visit from Jericho ministries

This month, the Auja Center was pleased to host the Governor of Jericho, Jericho’s Minister of Education, Minister of Religion, other members of the Jericho and Auja municipalities, students from the Al Itaiqlal University and several journalists and for a full day tour of the EcoCenter.

Visit from Jericho ministries at Auja Center

Visit from Jericho ministries at Auja Center

The group was most impressed with the work we do in recycling activities; not only teaching about the importance of reducing waste, but also the creative ways we reuse the waste.  The representative from the Ministry of Education would like to see these ideas used in Jericho and throughout the Jordan Valley, the Minister of Religion will promote this issue in the city’s mosques, and a representative from the Jericho Governorate said that all schools should visit the Auja EcoCenter for at least 1-2 hours, learn about our work, and benefit from this important experience.  One of the journalists even said that these ideas should be implemented in all public and private schools and all organizations throughout the West Bank.

The Auja Environmental Education Center is supported by the Drosos Foundation.

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FoEME Internship openings!

FoEME’s Bethlehem team is looking for an intern to support programming at our Auja EcoCenter!  This is a great opportunity to learn about transboundary water issues on the ground while gaining valuable professional experience from a diverse range of fields including ecotourism, water management and environmental education!

Auja Ecocenter

Auja Ecocenter

Candidates must have mother-tongue level English and a background in environmental issues.  The intern will be based out of our Bethlehem office with regular work at our Auja EcoCenter.  The position is available immediately for six months.

To learn more about FoEME’s Internship program please see our internship website page, read blogs from our current and former interns or contact us for more information at info@foeme.org

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