Saturday, May 9, 2009

Save the Jordan River!

On Thursday we ran through a list of the many petitions people were making on Pope Benedict XVI, in hopes that coverage of the papal pilgrimage will cast some attention on their respective causes as well.

We can add to that compilation the clean-up of the polluted Jordan river:

Zalul, Israel’s water protection association, says that the water is extremely polluted. They said so in an open letter to the Pope this past Friday.

“Water from the once-proud Jordan River is being diverted for domestic and agricultural use, leaving the lower part of the river a shrivelled stream with little to no fresh water and filled with sewage,” the letter said.

But those doing so now “risk their own health when entering the water.

“Your Holiness, all of the Jordan River’s visitors should have the right to be baptised in water that is natural and true,” activists from Zalul urged.

According to James Hider (Times Online), "the river is now such a polluted, denuded shadow of its former self that bathing is prohibited in its sluggish, brown waters":
A United Nations report described the biblical waterway as a “sewage pipe” made filthy by pollution from farming in Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley, by poorly managed sewage disposal from Palestinian cities in the West Bank and by waste water from Jordan and Syria.

Once a surging river with white water rapids, it is now a barely moving stream for much of its lower course, its volume slashed in the past 40 years from 1.43 billion cubic metres a year to a mere 100 million cubic metres. The main culprits are the intensive agriculture in Israeli farms in the Jordan Valley, captured in the 1967 war, where bananas, avocados, herbs and exotic fruits are grown for export.

Those interested can sign the petition at

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