Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | September 2, 2013

September 1st, 2013 – Friends of the Earth Middle East – Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

FoEME at Stockholm’s World Water Week September 1-6confer

A reminder: if you are in Stockholm this week, make sure to attend these sessions, as posted also in last month’s newsletter:

Tuesday, September 3rd from 12:45-13:45, FoEME will make a presentation entitled “Politics and Pragmatism in Transboundary River Cooperation”  and focus on our Transboundary Regional NGO Master Plan for the Lower Jordan River together with partners from the Stockholm International Water Institute  and Global Nature Fund.

And FoEME’s Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg, will make an additional presentation during a workshop on Wednesday, September 4th, 9:00-12:30 entitled “Transboundary Water Cooperation, Internal and External Factors”.


FoEME Directors in the USA

As a run-up to the official launch of our Jordan River Faith Based campaigndir in November, FoEME’s three Directors will be visiting three major cities in the United States, Washington DC, Chicago and New York City, from September 25 through October 15, to promote the concept that sharing water is the best chance for reviving the moribund peace process between Israel and Palestine, and that faith-based communities and interfaith groups can play a major role in cross-border environmental peacemaking efforts, especially by helping with the rehabilitation of the Jordan River.

 The directors will be participating in public events, media interviews, think-tank programs, and policymaker meetings to convey their message.

temMajor events in the Washington DC area include Sunday, September 29th at 10:30 a.m. at the St. Albans Parish Episcopal Church Adult Forum; Monday, September 30th at 12:00 at the JStreet Conference; Monday, September 30th at 7:30 p.m. at the Unity of Fairfax Church in Oakton, Virginia; Tuesday October 1st at 7:30 p.m. at the JCC of Greater Washington in Rockville, Maryland; Thursday, October 3rd at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia; and on Saturday October 5th at 11:00 at the Beth El Synagogue in Bethesda, Maryland.

Major events in Chicago include Monday October 7th at 7:00 p.m. at the Fourth Presbyterian Church and on Tuesday, October 8th at 7:30 a.m. to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and later in the day, at 4:00 p.m. at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Stevenson Hall at the Institute for the Humanities.

Major events in the New York City area include Wednesday, October 9th at 8:00 p.m. an interfaith meeting / dialogue at Port Washington, Long Island; and Friday, October 11th at 6:00 p.m. at the American Bible Society and at 7:00 p.m. at the Al Maqdis Mosque in Brooklyn.

FoEME supporters and the public are invited and encouraged to attend any of the programs listed above.  For further information on each program, please write to

FoEME’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Osprey Foundation and our Regional NGO Master Plan (SWIM-JR) Project is supported by the European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Programme.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–GWN Teachers Seminar in Aqaba

The Good Water Neighbors (GWN) project held a Regional Teachers Seminar in Aqaba, semJordan this month, attended by over 70 participants, including FoEME staff, Community Coordinators, teachers from the GWN participating communities, and officials from National Education Ministries who all sought to coordinate and develop environmental communication and teaching methods.

The seminar also introduced FoEME’s new Water Resource Guide, with the aim of acquainting educators with the activities and concepts in the Guide. The seminar was held over the course of 3 days, and in between serious discussions and trainings, attendees from Palestine, Israel, and Jordan interacted GWNRTS13_groupsand discussed environmental affairs to better understand the concerns of each country.

A diverse array of attendees displayed a wide range of opinions and approaches to teaching about environmental issues in the region, and contributed greatly through sharing techniques and teaching methodologies that can enhance students understanding of issues related to the environment in general and to water in particular.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————Good Water Neighbors Youth Camp in JAPAN

The last two weeks of the summer holiday offered a once-in-a-lifetime experience forjap 8 Palestinian and Israeli (female) youth “Water Trustees” from FoEME’s Good Water Neighbors project, when they were invited by Peace Field Japan (PFJ) to meet Japanese young women on a unique environmental-coexistence summer camp, in the beautiful Kosuge mountain area of Japan.

The name of the program is “Kizuna”, meaning “Bond” and indeed, participants learned about the bond between people and nature, the cultural landscape, traditional farming, protection of forests, the responsibility for taking care of waste and keeping the natural cycle. A bond was also created between people from different cultures – dancing, learning, and hiking together. “Arigato Gozay Masta!” (“Thank You!”) to PFJ and the local villagers who hosted us and took us into their homes and hearts. We hope to continue the “Kizuna” in our own communities in Israel and Palestine. Read more in our blog….

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–Palestinian Media Tour to Battir and Auja

Twice this month, FoEME hosted a group of Palestinian journalistsbat to two of our Palestinian Good Water Neighbors communities, with the aim to further expose – via the media – the role that FoEME has played in these communities.

On August 18th in Battir, journalists learned about FoEME’s success in opposing the Separation Barrier slated to be built in the village, as well as FoEME’s efforts to improve water & sanitation for West Bethlehem villages.  And on August 29th, in Auja, journalists toured the Auja EcoCenter, and heard about the many environmental education activities offered at the Center, and witnessed an on-site training session being given to FoEME educational staff in preparation for next year’s expected influx of Palestinian youth. To read all articles, including a video, visit our Good Water Neighbors / press coverage page.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark (SHE), Jordan

The SHE EcoPark entertains many visitors throughout the year; SHEthe latest group was from the Olive Tree Initiative, a group oriented towards a pragmatic approach to conflict analysis and resolution.

Walking the trails of the Park, they learned about the importance of the park as a pilot project intended to raise awareness about shared water and environmental concerns and the regional cooperation needed to solve these issues.  The park is also an environmental educational hub, encourages local eco-tourism, and provides an important home for endangered ecological habitats.  Read more about their visit on our blog.

In addition, we are pleased to report that the SHE EcoPark was featured in this month’s “” website, on their section.  We hope this will bring further exposure – and visitors! – to our EcoPark in Jordan.

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).


Israel / Jordan Water Exchange Proposal

Recent media attention on an ensuing agreement between Israel and Jordanwater exchange pro for a “water swap” raises the need for FoEME to reiterate our position on water sharing issues: in principle, an Israel / Jordan water swap deal could make excellent sense from an environmental, economic and political standpoint.

However, the fine print of this agreement is what is crucial: in this case the key issue is how to dispose of the brine from the proposed desalination plant in Aqaba. The cheapest options appear to be either evaporating the brine in the desert or releasing it safely back into the Aqaba Gulf.  Both options would need to be studied carefully. But if the Aqaba desalination plant is linked to a pipeline that would carry the brine to the Dead Sea, then FoEME could not be supportive of this option.  This would constitute the first stage of the proposed Red Dead Canal project, where research studies already undertaken by the World Bank have already highlighted the unacceptable risk to the environment. Read more of FoEME’s stand on the issue on our Red Dead Conduit / press coverage page.



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