Sunday, September 27, 2009

Villagers From Each Side Turn the Green Line Green

Ha'Aretz is carrying a story about a small village in the West Bank called Wadi Fukin and their cooperation with their neighbours on the other side of the "green line" in Tzur Hadassah to protect their distinct way of life--and more specifically, the water resources that life depends on--via the Friends of the Earth-Middle East "Good Water Neighbors" project.

The article explains that Wadi Fukin is a village that employs agricultural methods that have probably not changed in centuries and that these methods are highly dependant on natural water sources around the village. The problem is that the Security Barrier is projected to pass through an area near the village which would have the effect not only of reducing the amount of land available to the Palestinian villagers but its construction could very likley damage the springs that support the village's unique way of life and potentially decimate its economy.

Villagers from Tzur Hadassah, including a woman involved in the Adam Institute, are working with the people of Wadi Fukin to petition Israel to reconsider the route of the security barrier in that sector. One key argument being used is that because of the unique agriculture in the area, the area has been declared a World Heritage site and the fence could destroy that. Unfortunately, this is only sort of true. The village does not appear anywhere on the UNESCO World Heritage website because the Palestinians have not signed the World Heritage treaty.

Whether the site is really a world heritage site or not, is irrelevant. It is, however, illustrative of some other key information missing from this article that would be helpful to know. For example, the petition to stop construction of the security barrier was signed years ago. Information on the fence in that area is hard to come by though and it's not clear if it has been built at all. Certainly, the cooperation between the villages on either side of the green line have been successful in delaying construction, but the article leaves both the future and current situations unclear.

Naturally, the desire to protect the environment is a good thing and especially water resources in this arid region. Just as it's important to protect culture, especially one as old and distinct as the one in Wadi Fukin. Cooperating over water, a resource needed by all does and will continue to have the effect of bringing people together as it has in this case. The cooperation across the green line for water, and for initiatives like this vegetable co-op, can only serve to increase and improve mutual understanding, dialogue and ultimately peace on a human, individual level, something that is just as important as on the governmental one, if not more so.

The security barrier, however, has saved lives. If the barrier can be re-routed in this sector, or other measures put in place, as Friends of the Earth-Middle East asserts, then there should be no hesitation to adopt alternate plans. If not, however, the choice becomes much more difficult, culture and the environment versus human lives and security. The choice is not an easy one. In the meantime, however, it's nice to see that the green line, at least in this area, is truly turning green.

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