Kathy and John join Thirsting for Justice Summer Challenge
Join Kathy and John and hundreds others around the world in the Thirsting for Justice 2012 Summer Challenge!
When we heard about MECA’s Thirsting for Justice challenge we decided to try it…to live on 24 liters of water for 24 hours in solidarity with the Palestinian people who face this challenge every day living under the unjust water distribution policies of their occupier, Israel. We did so on August 14. We wore our T shirts sent to us by MECA when we registered, set about living on limited amounts of water for the day. It was going well until we inadvertently flushed a toilet in the middle of the day that used twelve quarts of water (a quarter of our allotted water) , and that was one of the new “water-saving” toilets. But we managed to make it through…washing dishes by hand with left over water from cooking, sponge bathing, and finding other ways to conserve our precious water.
The other part of the challenge was to communicate to the public what the Israeli occupation of Palestine means in terms of the unjust distribution of water. There were five of us in the Cambridge area that registered for the challenge, and together we decided to organize a vigil in Harvard Square. Through our network we got over a dozen people to join us in leaf letting an information sheet and displaying photographs about the water crisis in Palestine. During the vigil a Palestinian family from Ramallah happened by and stop to express their appreciation and have their picture taken with us. Their visit was the highlight of the vigil.
We also wrote an op-ed piece on the water crisis in Palestine and sent it to the Cambridge Chronicle (see text below). Although it has not yet been published we remain hopeful that it will.
During the challenge we learned that a friend of ours who lives in a village near Bethlehem had not had water in his family’s home for twenty-eight days. That made the Thirsting for Justice challenge relevant and important to us and helped us rededicate ourselves to working all the more diligently to end the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Letter to the editor: Cambridge Chronicle
Can you live on 24 quarts (6.3 gallons) of water a day?
Palestinians have to every day.
We did it in Cambridge for a day, and it was an extraordinary challenge.
We did it as part of a campaign to educate Americans about Palestinian life under Israeli occupation called Thirsting for Justice sponsored by the Middle East Children’s Alliance. We were motivated by an email we received from a friend who lives near Bethlehem, and who lived in Cambridge while studying at Harvard and Brandeis. He reports that his house has not received water for 28 days. Imagine that. The most difficult thing for him is trying to explain to his eight-year-old nephew why he cannot take a shower in the blistering heat.
Here are some facts from an Amnesty International Report.
• Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank of Palestine, while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies.
• Israel uses more than 80% of the water from the Palestinian Mountain Aquifer, the main source of underground water in Israel, while restricting Palestinians to a mere 20%.
• The Mountain Aquifer is the only source for water for Palestinians in the West Bank, but only one of several for Israel, which takes for itself all the water available from the Jordan River.
• While Palestinian daily water consumption is less than 70 quarts a day per person, Israeli consumption is more than 300 quarts per day.
• Some 200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities have no access to running water and the Israeli army often prevents them from even collecting rainwater.
• In contrast, Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools.
• In the Gaza strip, 90% to 95% of the water from its only source, the Coastal Aquifer, is contaminated. Yet Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the Mountain aquifer in the West Bank to Gaza.
Peace in Israel/Palestine will only come when there are just solutions to land and water distribution. That will not happen until Israel’s major benefactor, the United States, pressures Israel to end its occupation. And that will not happen until Americans understand the injustices being perpetrated on the Palestinian people and force their government to do so. Living on 24 quarts of water a day is perhaps a way to begin that understanding.
Kathy and John Roberts