Scientific American recently ran a feature on Israel’s desalination industry, hailing it as a miraculous feat of ingenuity of a small nation in the midst of burning, backward nations.
To quote the article’s romanticised language, the author refers to Israel as “a galvanised civilisation that created water from nothingness” where just a few miles away, alluding to Syria and Iraq specifically, but also Arab nations in general, “water disappeared and civilisations crumbled”.
It is surprising to see such blatant promotion of Israeli exceptionalism and the mendacious resurrection of “making the desert bloom” mythology on the pages of Scientific American. It is important to inject facts, history and reality into this water fairytale.
The author brazenly claims 900 years of Palestinian history is Israeli. In fact, Israel is a 68-year-old country established by European Jewish immigrants who conquered Palestine, expelled most of the indigenous population and laid claim to all their land, farms, homes, businesses, libraries and resources.
Beyond that gratuitous appropriation of Palestinian history, the article provides no historic context to climate, rainfall and natural water resources, giving the impression of a naturally inhospitable arid land.
In fact, throughout history, northern Palestine boasted a Mediterranean climate, having hot and dry summers with abundant rainfall in winter. And in fact, Ramallah’s rainfall exceeds that of London, as does Jerusalem’s rainfall.
The southern half of Palestine becomes desert around the Beersheba district, where the Naqab Desert expands to the tip of Palestine. When Israel was established, Palestinians were already sustainably cultivating 30 percent of their country. Excluding Beersheba district, that figure rises to an average of 43 percent, reaching as high as 71 percent in Gaza.