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Water, Agriculture and Zionism: Exploring the Interface between Policy and Ideology Clive Lipchin, Director of Research Arava Institute for Environmental.

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Presentation on theme: "Water, Agriculture and Zionism: Exploring the Interface between Policy and Ideology Clive Lipchin, Director of Research Arava Institute for Environmental."— Presentation transcript:

1 Water, Agriculture and Zionism: Exploring the Interface between Policy and Ideology Clive Lipchin, Director of Research Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Israel American Society for Environmental History 2006 Annual Meeting Joint Conference St. Paul, Minnesota March 29-April 2, 2006

2 Water, Agriculture and Zionism: Exploring the Interface between Policy and Ideology Israel's Water Resources - What are they, where are they and what is their condition? Water as ideology The Rise and Dominance of Agriculture Israeli Water Policy and Decision-making The Decline of Agriculture Local Perceptions on water, agriculture and Zionism Rethinking Zionist Ideology

3 Study Area 3 Major Sources: Jordan River System / Kinneret Mountain Aquifer Coastal Aquifer

4 Chronic Water Scarcity Total renewable supply: 1600 mcm/yr Water Availability: ~ m 3 /cap/yr (340 w/sewage) For Reference: <1000 m 3 /cap/yr - Water Poor <500 m 3 /cap/yr - Chronic Water Scarcity U.S. => 9,710 m 3 /cap/yr World average 7,000 m 3 /cap/yr Jordan => 230 m 3 /cap/yr (245 w/sewage) Palestinians => 95 m 3 /cap/yr Lebanon => 1,300 m 3 /cap/yr

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6 Israel s Water Deficit Source: Lowi, M.R. (1993) Water and Power: The Politics of a Scarce Resource in the Jordan River Basin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

7 Water level of the mountain aquifer (Source: Israel Environment Bulletin 23 (2): Spring 2000, Ministry of the Environment).

8 Water as Ideology Objectives of Zionism Population Pro-immigration and pro-natality policies A Jewish demographic reality Mode of Life Rural Cooperative Territory Redemption of the land through agriculture Conquering the unsettled He who works the land has rights and ownership to it Establishing borders and protecting the periphery

9 Agriculture has been influenced by socio- religious doctrine The construction of the country has its central basis in agriculture, which for all other nations is just an essential economic factor. But for the nation whose being is all sacred, and whose country and language are all sacred … even its agriculture is soaked in sacredness … Rabbi A. Y. H. Kook, first chief rabbi of Palestine, 1937 Water as Ideology

10 Environmental Perceptions Helped Shape Agricultural and Water Development Romantic Ruralism Initial pioneers glorified the renewal of the relationship between the Jew and soil Biblical romanticism Rejection of the Jewish character in the ghetto But the environment was actually quite harsh – a cause for anxiety Ethos of Development Mastering the alien environment hence overcame anxiety A means to socialize new immigrants through co-operative effort Wake up, O sand, because cement is attacking you/stone and cement/a hand full of iron/a path is paved/a city sings a song Nathan Alterman, 1934 Water as Ideology

11 The Rise and Dominance of Agriculture Water project construction for agriculture was guided by ideological (ethos of development) and geopolitical considerations in which economic factors were only of secondary significance and with scant environmental considerations. … the water of the Jordan flows down to the Dead Sea, and the Yarkon water flows to the Mediterranean … even the rains, plentiful in the north and minimal in the south, flow wasted, in large measures to the Mediterranean or the Dead Sea, without fully benefiting the thirsty soil. David Ben Gurion, 1956 Israels first prime minister

12 Large-Scale Public Works: The National Water Carrier Diminished flows to the Jordan River Shrinking of the Dead Sea Degradation of Water Quality in Sea of Galilee

13 Israeli Water Policy and Decision- Making Developed within a socio-political system rather than a market system Extremely centralized Ministry of Agriculture until recently appointed the water commissioner who is responsible for water allocations, distribution and pricing Since 1996 the water commissioner has been appointed by the Ministry of Infrastructure not the Ministry of Environment All water is managed by the national water company established in 1959, Mekorot, that supplies water to all sectors and sets prices primarily based on quality and not quantity Israel Water Law established in 1959, annulled private ownership of all water resources and placed their management with the state Agricultural interests largely in concurrence with the water commissioner and the Ministry of Agriculture

14 Water for Agriculture in Israel and Palestine Israel Palestine (West Bank/Gaza) Water Consumption by Sector (in %): Agriculture 6362 Industrial 638 Domestic 31 Arable Land in % of total surface area 2127/45%** Irrigated Land in % of total cropland 506/58%** Irrigation water* in cubic meters/capita *Approximately 30% is treated wastewater **The first data refer to the West Bank, the second to the Gaza Strip Adapted from: Libiszewski, S. (1995). Water disputes in the Jordan Basin Region and their role in the Resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict (ENCOP Occasional Paper No.: 13): Center for Security Policy and Conflict Research/Swiss Peace Foundation.

15 Managing the Water Budget Priority to the urban sector but with guarantees to agriculture: Hydrological subsidies Price distortions Domestic protectionism Tariffs and import quotas Water for the future A buffer against discrepancies Discounting the future Ensuring promised water to agriculture Recently reduced by 50% Heavy compensation for farmers All cuts considered temporary until conditions improve

16 Local Perceptions on Water, Agriculture and Zionism Representative sample of kibbutz residents in the southern Arava Over 250 people sampled Only adults over the age of eighteen

17 Study Area

18 Aerial Photograph of Kibbutz Ketura Residential Area Dairy Date Orchards Field Crops Wastewater treatment ponds

19 Kibbutz - An Artificial Oasis in the Arava Desert

20 Agricultural Pursuits in the Southern Arava Date Orchards Field Crops Dairy Farming

21 At the Local Level

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23 Survey Question: Agriculture is Important for the National Security of the State, Even if it means Using a Lot of Water

24 Agriculture is Important for the National Security of the State, Even if it means Using a Lot of Water A relationship exists between local and national ideology (Linear-by-Linear Association=7.759, p=0.005) 7 out of 10 kibbutzim agree, but within variation exists

25 Survey Question: Agriculture is Necessary as a Means of Making a Living in the Arava Valley

26 Agriculture is Necessary as a Means of Making a Living in the Arava Valley A relationship exists between local and national ideology (Pearson chi-square=76.8, p<0.001) 7 out of 10 kibbutzim agree to strongly agree with this statement

27 Ideology at the Local Level is Strong Despite...…

28 … And at the National Level Domestic and industrial sectors are expanding Population of approximately 6 million is set to double in the next 27 years Israel can import much of its agricultural needs from abroad Decline in Agriculture At its height in 1941, the Jewish rural population was 29% and has been declining ever since Agricultures contribution to GDP in 1991 was 3% Agricultural labor force in (as a share of total employment) was 4% Agricultures share of total exports in 1990 was 2.5% Less than 10% of kibbutz and moshav members work in agriculture

29 Reforming Agricultural Policy Decentralize water policy Privatize some operations Transform water commissioner to a planning and regulatory agent Restructure Mekorot as an inter-regional water conveyance operation Local control in water supply Market based policies Price elasticity is high in agricultural sector – increase water rates to farmers, that is scale back subsidies => reduce water consumption Price inelastic in domestic sector => shift water supply to domestic arena Property rights Liberalize trading policies (e.g.: export of flowers – Europe s Winter Greenhouse ) Removal of expensive domestic agricultural products from production (e.g.: citrus) Protect agricultural land as open space Increase and improve wastewater treatment

30 … And Back to the National Level … water is not merely an economic resource but a means of settling the periphery, protecting state land and a means of conserving farmers and farming. Ariel Sharon Haaretz Newspaper, April 19, 2001

31 Sustainable Water Use Scenario Decentralized policies Market based system Scaling back subsidies New technologies e.g.: desalination Demand management

32 Rethinking Zionism Objectives of Zionism Mode of life Over 90% of the population is urban Capitilasim rules! Territory 60% of the country remains desert – the desert has yet to bloom Most of the population lives along the coastal plain Center of the country has one of the highest population densities in the world Borders remain unconfirmed Yet the ideals of Zionism still resonate strongly at both the national and local levels


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