River out of Eden: Water, Ecology, and the Jordan River in the Jewish Tradition

River out of Eden: Water, Ecology, and the Jordan River in the Jewish Tradition

Source: EcoPeace, Friends of the Earth Middle East, 2014

Author(s): EcoPeace, Friends of the Earth Middle East

Countries: Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria

Topics: Cooperation, Land, Livelihoods, Renewable Resources

Added: 23/02/2017

 

We recognize that the Jordan River Valley is a landscape of outstanding ecological and cultural importance. It connects the eco-systems of Africa and Asia, forms a sanctuary for wild plants and animals, and has witnessed some of the most significant advances in human history. The first people ever to leave Africa walked through this valley and drank from its springs. Farming developed on these plains, and in Jericho we see the origins of urban civilization itself. Not least, the river runs through the heart of our spiritual traditions: some of the founding stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are set along its banks and the valley contains sites sacred to half of humanity. By any measure, this landscape must be counted as part of the heritage of humankind. But over the past 50 years, the Lower Jordan River has been destroyed. 96% of its historic flow has been diverted. What little water remains is polluted with saline and effluent, including untreated sewage. The valley’s wetlands have dried up, its springs are failing, and half its biodiversity has been lost. This is not just a tragedy for wildlife: families have seen their fields turn to dust, not from a lack of water but from the injustice of its distribution. 

 

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