Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Water Crisis

My next article in the Jewish Post was an appeal to the Canadian Government to release Omar Khadr from jail. Khadr was the 15-year old Islamic boy who was visiting Afghanistan when the U. S. invaded following 9-11, and he ended up fighting for the other side. The Americans captured him and declared him a war criminal, and sentenced him to a huge prison term. I asked my readers what they would think if a Jewish-Canadian kid on Birthright Israel got caught up in a war and ended up being captured by Iranian forces. I called the article "Birthright Afghanistan" and I think it is one of the most important things I've ever written. I've already posted it on my blogsite here.

The next article I posted was about the water crisis in Israel. I think it's pretty interesting; here it is:

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Is there no solution to the water crisis?
Everyone who has ever been to Israel knows about the water situation. There just isn’t enough fresh water to support a population of ten million souls between the River and the Sea. We do great things with drip irrigation and recycling, but it’s just not enough. Is there no solution to the problem?
We hear of desalination, but everyone knows that is terribly expensive. If only Israel were blessed with Canada’s abundant resources! To be sure, our water is not free, but imagine what your water bill would look like if you had to pay the astronomical cost of desalinated water?
Do you know how much we pay here in Winnipeg for water? I do. Domestic water costs about $3.00 per cubic meter. Actually, the water costs only $1, but you can’t buy the water unless you pay the sewer charge on top, which is double. It comes to $3 per cubic meter.
Now I’m going to ask you to guess what it would cost if we had to extract our freshwater from the sea by the complicated process of reverse osmosis. Ten? or twenty dollars?....it boggles the imagination. How is the ordinary Israeli going to be able to afford to take a shower and cook his dinner?
You may be surprised to learn that the actual cost of desalinaed water is less that one dollar per cubic meter; and I have seen it quoted as low as fifty cents. It’s a fraction of the cost we pay for our water in Winnipeg. To be sure, even in Israel they would also need to pay for distribution and disposal, but all things being equal I still don’t see how it comes to more than $3.50 at the tap. What is the problem?
Two years ago the experts were wringing their hands because the Sea of Gallilee had been drawn down two meters below the “red line”. A billion dollars worth of desalinated water (at a unit cost of $1.00) would add six meters to the level of Israel’s most important reservoir. Yes, a billion dollars is a fair chunk of money, but it’s a fraction of the annual U.S. military aid to Israel. If Sheldon Adelson could give $50 million to the Newt Gingrich campaign, I think we could find the money if we really wanted to.
For twenty years we’ve resisted a peace deal with Syria as much for the water rights as for the strategic value of the heights. For a billion dollars a year we could create an artificial Sea of Galilee in the Negev Desert. But what are the chances of that happening. There’s plenty of money for the latest fighter planes, the Iron Domes….and if we look a little closer to home, money for Human Rights museums and football stadiums. Seven hundred billion to bail out the banks? It’s a crime the things we spend money on.

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