Water and Power in Palestine

Worth reading today:

A breathless report on Israel’s status as a world wide leader in water technology. Meanwhile the UN warns Gaza will be virtually uninhabitable in just seven years due in part to the restrictions on water infrastructure Israel imposes as a form of collective punishment…


Two Republican governors from arid states, Rick Perry of Texas and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, were on hand with large delegations this week to peruse the wares at the Watec Israel 2013 exhibition. .…

The hallways of the Tel Aviv convention center were packed with engineers from China, Spain, France and Australia. Buyers and sellers huddled around water coolers signing memorandums of understanding.

Israel is a world leader in desalination of seawater. By next year, more than a third of Israel’s tap water will come from the Mediterranean Sea and a few briny wells. Israel’s total water consumption remains nearly at 1964 levels — even though its population has quadrupled to 8 million people, according to the economic ministry. .…

“Israel will soon become the largest hub for water innovation in the world,” said Amir Peleg, founder and chief executive of TaKaDu, which uses algorithms to monitor municipal water companies for leaks in real time.

Israel’s public and private sectors are investing heavily in developing and promoting the water industry. There are 280 water technology companies in Israel.

I regard very few political commentators with genuine admiration. But Chomsky is different. He is in a league of his own. He surpasses even his idol Bertrand Russell. This is a typical essay that hits upon points he’s been making for years – yet it is still inspires reverence in me.

http://chomsky.info/articles/20131024.htm and http://mondoweiss.net/2013/10/statetwo-irrelevant-consolidate.html

The one state/two state debate is irrelevant as Israel and the US consolidate Greater Israel

Noam Chomsky
Mondoweiss, October 24, 2013

It is easy to cite many other examples, but unnecessary, because it is assumed almost universally that there are two options for cis-Jordan: either two states — Palestinian and Jewish-democratic — or one state “from the sea to the river.” Israeli commentators express concern about the “demographic problem”: too many Palestinians in a Jewish state. Many Palestinians and their advocates support the “one state solution,” anticipating a civil rights, anti-Apartheid struggle that will lead to secular democracy. Other analysts also consistently pose the options in similar terms.

The analysis is almost universal, but crucially flawed. There is a third option, namely, the option that Israel is pursuing with constant US support. And this third option is the only realistic alternative to the two-state settlement that is backed by an overwhelming international consensus.

It makes sense, in my opinion, to contemplate a future binational secular democracy in the former Palestine, from the sea to the river. For what it’s worth, that is what I have advocated for 70 years. But I stress: advocated. Advocacy, as distinct from mere proposal, requires sketching a path from here to there. The forms of true advocacy have changed with shifting circumstances. Since the mid-1970s, when Palestinian national rights became a salient issue, the only form of advocacy has been in stages, the first being the two-state settlement. No other path has been suggested that has even a remote chance of success. Proposing a binational (“one state”) settlement without moving on to advocacy in effect provides support for the third option, the realistic one. ….

Israel is also taking over the Jordan Valley, thus fully imprisoning the cantons that remain. Huge infrastructure projects link settlers to Israel’s urban centers, ensuring that they will see no Palestinians. Following a traditional neocolonial model, a modern center remains for Palestinian elites, in Ramallah, while the remainder mostly languishes.

To complete the separation of Greater Jerusalem from remaining Palestinian cantons, Israel would have to take over the E1 region. So far that has been barred by Washington, and Israel has been compelled to resort to subterfuges, like building a police station. Obama is the first US president to have imposed no limits on Israeli actions. It remains to be seen whether he will permit Israel to take over E1, perhaps with expressions of discontent and a wink of the eye to make it clear that they are not seriously intended.

There are regular expulsions of Palestinians. In the Jordan Valley alone the Palestinian population has been reduced from 300,000 in 1967 to 60,000 today, and similar processes are underway elsewhere. Following the “dunam after dunam” policies that go back a century, each action is limited in scope so as not to arouse too much international attention, but with a cumulative effect and intent that are quite clear. ….

In the areas that Israel is taking over, the Palestinian population is small and scattered, and is being reduced further by regular expulsions. The result will be a Greater Israel with a substantial Jewish majority. Under the third option, there will be no “demographic problem” and no civil rights or anti-Apartheid struggle, nothing more than what already exists within Israel’s recognized borders, where the mantra “Jewish and democratic” is regularly intoned for the benefit of those who choose to believe, oblivious to the inherent contradiction, which is far more than merely symbolic.

Except in stages, the one-state option is an illusion. It has no international support, and there is no reason why Israel and its US sponsor would accept it, since they have a far preferable option, the one they are now implementing; with impunity, thanks to US power.

Russell Brand: “The right seeks converts and the left seeks traitors.”

It’s notable how favorable this article is towards the protestors right from the lead-in – leftist demos, e.g. Occupy, would tend to invite far less sympathetic reportage.


Techies concerned over NSA surveillance will march in D.C., proclaiming ‘Stop Watching Us’

By Amy Argetsinger, Published: October 25 E-mail the writer

Matthew Meola launched into his talking points haltingly.

“We’re concerned about this, um, bulk collection,” he said, rehearsing the message he planned to deliver to congressional offices. “We’re concerned it violates the Constitution.”

But the words became more fluid as he channeled his concern Friday about NSA surveillance, in preparation for a lobbying trip to Capitol Hill demanding closer scrutiny of the secretive agency. If the spiel didn’t come easily at first, well, he’s not a lobbyist. Like so many of the protesters turning out for this weekend’s Stop Watching Us march, he’s a tech guy: a computer scientist from Cambridge, Mass.

Oh, did you expect anti-tech folks — the tinfoil hat crowd, the off-the-gridders? Instead, it’s the super-techie community that has been agitated about the government’s power to collect and analyze our personal data — “people who care” about the issue “because they understand it,” said Chris Lewis, vice president of Public Knowledge, one of the event’s nonprofit-group organizers.

“This is probably the defining issue of a young generation of technologists,” said Matt Simons of ThoughtWorks, a software developer that is one of the weekend’s corporate sponsors. “If you’re not coming out on the right side of history, you’re in the wrong industry.”

Organizers hope to draw a couple of thousand protesters to the rally and march, set to kick off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in front of Union Station before moving to the Reflecting Pool at the Capitol. Speakers will include Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), former congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake and former Army Lt. Dan Choi, who is a gay-rights activist.

Notice how the most honest and plausible reading of U.S. policy towards Egypt comes buried in providing the context for an article on something else – Saudi policy towards Syria and anger at the U.S. caution. Gone are credulous suppositions of Washington’s desire to back democratic movements.


Angry Over Syrian War, Saudis Fault U.S. Policy


Published: October 25, 2013

While Washington may have felt it had no choice but to support the millions who poured into the street calling for Mr. Mubarak’s ouster and to show some displeasure with a military takeover, the Saudis saw the United States as having let down an ally in support of the Islamists, twice. ….

In late 2012, Saudi Arabia grew frustrated with Qatar, which had been financing Islamist rebel brigades, and shifted its focus to Jordan, where it began working with the Jordanians and the C.I.A. in an effort to vet and train the more secular rebel groups. The Saudi effort was largely in the hands of Prince Bandar’s younger half-brother, Prince Salman bin Sultan, with Prince Bandar supervising from Riyadh.



Before Malala


Published: October 25, 2013

William Dalrymple is the author, most recently, of “Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42.”

But there is something disturbing about the outpouring of praise: the implication that Malala is a lone voice, almost a freak event in Pashtun society, which spans the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan and is usually perceived as ultraconservative and super-patriarchal.

Few understand the degree to which the stereotypes that bedevil the region — images of terrorist hide-outs and tribal blood feuds, religious fanatics and the oppression of women — are, if not wholly misleading, then at least only one side of a complex society that was, for many years, a center of Gandhian nonviolent resistance against British rule, and remains home to ancient traditions of mystic poetry, Sufi music and strong female leaders.

While writing a history of the first Western colonial intrusion into the region, I heard many stories about the woman Malala Yousafzai is named after: Malalai of Maiwand. For most Pashtuns, the name conjures up not a brave teenage supporter of education, but an equally brave teenage heroine who turned the tide of a crucial battle during the second Anglo-Afghan war.

Malalai does not appear in any British account of the Battle of Maiwand, but if Afghan sources are accurate, her actions led to the British Empire’s greatest defeat in a pitched battle in the course of the 19th century. .…

The region also has a great tradition of peaceful resistance. In the 1930s, the North-West Frontier, under the Pashtun leader Badshah Khan, became an unlikely center of Gandhian nonviolence against the British Raj. A prominent group of activists called the Khudai Khidmatgars, or Servants of God, drew direct inspiration from Gandhi’s ideas of service, disciplined nonviolence and civil disobedience to defy the colonial authorities. They also championed education, in order to marginalize the influence of the conservative ulema — the religious scholars. As the leading modern writer on the movement, Mukulika Banerjee, has shown, the Khudai Khidmatgars have been virtually erased from the nationalist historiography of post-partition Pakistan.

The fact that all this history surprises us as much as it does is a measure of how far we have allowed the extremists to dominate our images of what it means to be a Muslim in general, and Pashtun in particular. It is certainly true that both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border have been lacerated by violent extremism and misogyny — ever since the United States, the Saudis and Pakistan’s intelligence agency armed religious extremists in Peshawar in the 1980s to take on the Soviet Union. But it should be remembered that the main resistance to extremism has been the local Pashtuns themselves.


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