“Israel is somehow a democratic country that has elections and does listen to its people. Therefore, Israeli residents are part of the government resolutions.” (From interview with “Bissan”)Machon Arava (otherwise known as the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies) is a peace-building environmental leadership program in the Southern Negev, accredited by Ben-Gurion University, which teaches by the motto “Nature knows no borders.” It is also the place I called home from mid-September 2008 until January 31, 2009, along with Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and other Americans. While there, I learned, and often saw firsthand, the intertwined issues of environmentalism and racism that accompany the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, from the way the Bedouin are pushed into increasingly smaller pieces of land to the way the Palestinians are denied water, and the way the Israeli Left – those who purport to be the environmentalist progressives, but who still prioritize their Zionism first even at the cost of environmental safety or equality – blames these Arab groups for their own plight. There are many cases of environmental racism and conflicts of ideology even within the Israeli Left. For example, the professors of the Arava Institute who spend their lives teaching transboundary environmental cooperation but defended the war on Gaza in January 2009 (Operation Cast Lead), or Alon Tal, a revered Israeli environmentalist and progressive politician who named the Bedouin as Israel’s greatest environmental threat without any acknowledgement of the circumstances the Israeli government imposes on the Bedouin that intensify environmentally unfriendly habits practiced in Bedouin communities.
The conflict that struck me most, however, was the struggle over water sharing. While it is understandable that there will be many difficulties sharing such a limited supply of water when so many people, already warring over land and identity, share a small desert country, Israel’s hegemonic control of water is inhumane because it denies Palestinians the basic right to the World Health Organization’s minimum water quota. While the kibbutzim have enough water to water their lawns, Palestinians often don’t have enough water to drink. In the next chapter, the extent of the water conflict will be more fully explained, but at present, it is important to understand that the root of this thesis is my personal reaction to all I read about the water issue, to the stories my Palestinian friends told me about having no water in their faucets, and the anger that I felt at the Kibbutz on which Machon Arava is placed, which constantly had broken irrigation sprinklers that would run water unnecessarily all day.
We spent a lot of our time at the Arava Institute talking about these environmental issues, and about the Arab-Israeli conflicts. There was a lot of crying and personal growth that went on within the campus walls of the Arava Institute. Working through such an on-going conflict through personal contact is a slow and painful process, Machon Arava also approaches our environmentalist attempt at peace through the academics. Classes are all centered on environmental studies, most specifically those related to the Israeli/Palestinian environment. As such, many issues are also central to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The best example of the academics at Machon Arava is “Environmental Mediation and Conflict Resolution,” a class entirely about solving these exact conflicts. It was this class that gave fellow Arava student, Bridget, hope for the future because showing Israeli and Palestinian students together the ways in which environmental mediation has worked for small-scale conflict resolution spreads optimism and is the only real hope for change. The majority of this paper on water politics and environmental approaches to conflict resolution in the Middle East draws from that particular class.
Making the Desert Green
“What is a Jewish State?” (From interview with “Rebecca”)The phrase, “making the desert green” or “bloom” has become so embedded in the images and language surrounding Israel that its origins are now difficult to trace. In reading Theodor Herzl’s The Jew’s State, Old New Land, and both volumes of his collected Zionist Writings, I found no use of this phrase, and only vague references to sending Jews to till the Ottoman sands of Palestine. Herzl also suggests establishing Jewish settlements in Argentina or various places in East Africa, and makes other comments that completely contradict the idea of agricultural settlements in Palestine. Herzl’s political Zionist thesis, The Jews’ State, was published in 1896. On page 141, he declares that “Whoever wants to turn Jews into agricultural producers is really making a strange mistake.” He explains that agrarianism is an outdated peasants’ occupation, and is beneath Jews at the turn of the twentieth century. His novel, Old New Land, a fictional story and more illustrative version of his political thesis, was completed in 1902. On page 158, about halfway through the novel, the Zionist pioneer Steineck expounds on how effectively the colonization project of Palestine “drained the swamps as if by magic.” This myth of the early Zionist settlers draining the “swamps” of Palestine, in order to make the land manageable for building and planting, directly contradicts the rhetoric of making the barren desert green, but Herzl never addresses these contradictions, nor does he ever seem to explain his apparent change of heart from thinking that farming is beneath the European city-dwelling Jews to believing agricultural production an honorable task for the settlement of the Jewish people.
Despite his various contradictions, Herzl ultimately seems sure that Palestine is the right place for Jewish settlement. This is not only because of the biblical and historical significance of the land for the Jewish people, but also because of the benefits he foresees for the Ottoman Empire. In “The Solution of the Jewish Question,” published in English for The Jewish Chronicle in February 1896, Herzl proposes that the Jews of the world “regulate all the finances of Turkey” (Zionist Writings, Vol 1, 31) in exchange for the land of Palestine from the Ottoman Sultan. He reiterates this idea multiple times, in various ways. He says that the Jews have “no more magnanimous friend than His Majesty the reigning Sultan” (Zionist Writings, Vol 1, 39), but that the “Turks … have the best qualities – except those needed for the modern development and cultivation of a land” (Zionist Writings, Vol 2, 73). He describes the land of Palestine as being at a “low point of neglect and dilapidation” (Zionist Writings, Vol 2, 73). Herzl suggests that the Jews could fix it up, so to speak, although how he could really make that assessment, knowing nothing of the environment or history of the region other than a nine days’ visit at the end of the year 1898, and perhaps some bible verses, is a mystery.
In his nine days there, Herzl visited the early Jewish settlements, and saw how they worked the land. He was impressed especially by the “settler Brozie…[who] started out as a simple day laborer in the Rehovot settlement” (Zionist Writings, Vol. II, 33). Herzl goes on about how the settler moved out of the Rehovot settlement on his own, and began a vineyard which was so immediately successful that other settlements provided him with loans to improve his vintage. Herzl reports that Brozie’s yield is ever-increasing, and that though the “well-kept vineyard is still surrounded by a desert… industrious people could turn that desert, too, into a garden.” After spending only nine days in Palestine, Herzl seems to think he understands the ecology, and feels certain of the agricultural potential of a desert that has been inhabited and utilized by other people in the Jews’ thousand year absence, despite its apparent barrenness to the European eye.
Herzl compares this proposed colonizing in Palestine to the colonization process in the Americas and to the Boer independence movement in South Africa. At first he rejects both of these models, on the basis of their violence and naiveté toward natives. In The Jews’ State, he lays out how he thinks the land should be toiled in order to establish the home for the Jews, starting with scientific exploration of the “natural characteristics of the land” (The Jews’ State,193). At that time, however, there was not a great understanding of environmental assessment, and the idea of trying to establish a viable settlement based on scientific exploration of the land did not really allow for great environmental sustainability. Herzl’s proposition is to auction the land off by achievement: those that worked hard to establish the general necessities for a community (bridges, roads, water installations, government institutions, etc), would be given better plots of land. He accused the settlers of the Americas of colonizing in “the most naïve way,” taking over by force, and instead envisions a utopia wherein the local groups are taken into account. Of the South African example, he said, “we don’t want a Boer [farmer] state, but a Venice,” (according to Jacques Kornberg, who translated into English and wrote the introduction for Old New Land), a culture of arts and intelligent citizens, rather than a culture of rural workers of the land. At some point, it seems, the Zionist movement changed its mind on that front. They felt empowered by the idea of “hardy independent warrior-cattle-farmers who had carved out the Boer republics in a hostile and threatening environment” (Kornberg, xvii). Herzl foresaw a utopian community that would not require the death and oppression of the local populations, and would be built up into an environmental paradise. Although I admire his vision, it is unfathomable to me how he actually believed it possible, given the history of colonization. He thought the idea of taking land by force, as had been done in the Americas was naïve, but it seems to me he was the naïve one.
Though Herzl expresses these interests in establishing agricultural settlements in Palestine, I still feel there is not a satisfactory answer to how “making the desert green” became such a central part of the Zionist rhetoric. In addition to the practicality of using agricultural production as a means of laying claim to land (as was Ottoman law), I believe that there is also the symbolic need for the Jewish people to plant their roots in the land. Although I know I am probably not the first to make this connection, in my readings so far I have found no other explicit expression of this idea. The roots of the settlers’ fruit trees, and later the Jewish National Fund (JNF) evergreens, were also roots of Jewish heredity in their biblical land, a way of proving that we are not all the proverbial “Wandering Jew” that Europeans so distrusted. It was the sign of the end of the Diaspora. For the first time, the Jews were not only allowed to own land, but also felt secure enough in this land that they would not be forced out or stripped of their rights to live self-sufficiently again. The roots the Jews felt in this land, the roots that had been mourned since the Babylonian exile, could be planted in the most visible way, by establishing the Jewish agricultural societies in Palestine, in the way that our ancestors had tilled that same land. Although there were suggestions for the Jews to migrate to other countries, some of which Herzl himself supported, the symbolism of planting roots back in Eretz Yisroel is likely the reason that Palestine was the only choice that gained enough support to launch large-scale migration. As will be further explained later, I see this rhetoric as the reason for Israel’s overuse of water and the precursor to the war for resources.
In order to fully comprehend the conflict over resources, the full extent of the water politics, and the views of the fall 2008 students of the Machon Arava, first one must understand the history of the region and the Israeli-Arab conflicts more generally. First, it is important to note that there has never been a sovereign state of Palestine. Before the birth of the State of Israel, the British government controlled what is now Israel and Palestine, and before that, the area was part of the Ottoman Empire. The long-standing conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors stems in part from old fashioned colonialism. During World War I, the eve of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the world’s three superpowers at the time claimed former Ottoman territory what Elizabeth Monroe calls “expansionist bookings-in-advance” (Cleveland, 162). Britain laid claim to the Egypt-Palestine region (among others) for its access to the Suez Canal and France and the Soviet Union each also acquired former Ottoman territory. From 1917 to 1920 Britain maintained a strictly military occupation of the land. In 1920, the British Mandate for Palestine was officially drawn up, agreed upon by the other superpowers.
Previous to the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the modern Zionist movement, which called for Jewish settlement and self-rule in their ancestral land of biblical Israel had been gaining momentum throughout Europe. The first Zionist Conference was held in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland (as the first major city to allow such a gathering, after other large European cities denied the Zionist Conference rights to assembly). The momentum of the Zionist movement was due largely to the efforts of Theodor Herzl. For a variety of self-serving political reasons, including needing a reason to stay in the region, control of the Suez Canal, and support from world Jewry in World War I, Britain firmly supported the Zionist mission, declaring it would make “Palestine as Jewish as England was English” (Cleveland, 245). On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild (a prominent British Zionist) promising the land of Palestine to the Jews. In the meantime, however, Britain continued to control the area, first as a military zone, then as the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920-1948.
Throughout the early to mid 1940’s, Jewish militant organizations such as the Haganah (led by David Ben-Gurion, who would later become Israel’s first Prime Minister) and the Irgun (led by another future Prime Minister, Menachem Begin) put pressure on British forces to recognize the Jewish state and withdraw from the area. While the Irgun was an outright terrorist organization, most well-known for the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946, the Haganah was generally regarded as a more moderate organization, though it also often resorted to violence against Palestinians and British forces to express the need for a sovereign Jewish nation. It was the Haganah that would become the Israeli Defense Force in 1948. Under the pressure from the Irgun and Haganah, British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin referred the matter of Palestine and Jewish statehood to the United Nations, and the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created in April 1947.
UNSCOP, made up of eleven members, spent five weeks in Palestine before determining its future without consulting with the people who lived there and would be affected by the UNSCOP decision. The committee unanimously agreed that the British Mandate must be dissolved, and the majority of the committee drew up a partition plan which divided Palestine into eight parts: three to be the Jewish State, three to be the Arab State, the seventh to be the Arab enclave of Jaffa within the Jewish State, and the eighth to be the international city of Jerusalem (administered by the UN Trusteeship Council). The UNSCOP plan stipulated that steps be taken by the provisional governments of both new states to deal with issues of citizenship, the economic union, minority rights, and access to holy places prior to independence. The partition plan was endorsed by the Jews of Palestine, despite their dissatisfaction on the territorial limits. Palestinian Arabs rejected the plan on the basis that it violated their right, stipulated in the UN Charter, to determine their own destiny, and would not agree to any plan that carved up their country (UN report on UNSCOP, chapter 2). Eventually, the partition was enforced by the United States, when President Truman (against the advice of his State and Defense departments) gave way to the pressure of the American Zionist lobby and successfully pressured the UN into adopting the UNSCOP plan.
It was formally decided by the UN in September 1947 that the British Mandate in Palestine would terminate on May 15, 1948. In the time between that announcement and May 15th, 400,000 Palestinians left their homes in the newly determined “Jewish” areas, as a result of a combination of coercion and outright violent force. On May 15th, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq all invaded Israel. The subsequent war lasted through December of that year, and ultimately resulted in Israeli victory over more land than the UN had provided for the Jewish state, nullifying the UN partition plan. In this violence, an additional 300,000 Palestinians were made refugees, many of whom fled to the West Bank, which was at that point annexed by Jordan.
Through the conquering of territory in the 1948 War and its internal racist social hierarchy, Israel had already firmly established well before the 1967 Occupation that Jewish and Arab integration would be limited within Israel, and that Palestinian repatriation into Israel would be impossible. In 1964, tensions increased with the creation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), an organization which was created under the auspices of the Arab League as an outlet for Palestinian resistance that was regulated by the neighboring Arab states. In 1967, the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors escalated significantly when Egypt, Syria, and Jordan formed a blockade on Israel. The blockades not only prohibited Israel’s access to its ports, but these neighbors also menacingly lined up their tanks along Israel’s borders. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, following Ben-Gurion’s policy that every act of Arab aggression be met by “an armed response well out of proportion to the initial act” (Cleveland, 354), made the first attack on all three nations and managed to capture the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and Sinai from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria within six days.
After the Six Day War of 1967, the PLO moved headquarters from Egypt to Jordan, and in 1969, elected Yasir Arafat (the head of al-Fatah) as its chairman. Meanwhile, Israel continued to violate the UN Resolution 242. The Resolution, issued on November 22, 1967 in response to Israel’s acquisition of land by force, called for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories as the only opening for a peace process. Not only did its continued occupation further the tension with neighboring Arab states, Israel and its neighbors continued to be in direct violent conflict with one another. The year 1970 brought the beginning of the settler movement (Israel moving civilian populations into the occupied territories in clear opposition to the laws of the Geneva Convention), as well as 150 air strikes from Israel into Egypt. In 1973, on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel simultaneously; Egypt on Sinai and Syria on the Golan. Although Israel easily held off Syria, Egypt had relative success in advancing to the Suez Canal before a ceasefire was established. This ceasefire was shakily sustained until the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, in which Israel returned the rights to Sinai. There has been no real peace established with Syria, and Israel still controls the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.
In 1987, the Palestinian resistance movement staged the First Intifada (literally, “Shaking Off”), which was encouraged and led by the PLO but in which much of the Palestinian population participated. The Intifada mostly consisted of violent demonstrations by Palestinians which were met by disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Force, evidenced by the fact that while 1,025 Palestinians had been killed (including approximately 250 who were killed as “collaborators” by other Palestinians), fifty-six Israelis were killed. The violence reached its peak in 1990, though it continued sporadically until 1992. In addition to those killed, 37,000 Arabs were wounded, and about 35,000 arrested.
The Madrid Conference of 1991 established the precedent of peace talks between Israel and the PLO, though it was not successful in reaching any agreement. It was the first of the many attempts of neutral third parties to bring together the Israeli and Palestinian authorities create a resolution to the conflict. I believe it was due to third parties such as the U.S. that the peace process was able to get off the ground at all, but these third parties – particularly the U.S. – were often ineffective in reaching their goals due to their political and economic favors to Israel. The favor is evidenced by the amount of money the U.S. gives to Israel in aid and loans, and I just cannot imagine how that could foster trust within the Palestinian communities. The efforts of the U.S. in particular reached a climax in 1992, when President Bush put a halt on its aid money to Israel (a $10 billion loan), and declared the U.S. would not grant Israel more money until it froze its settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Despite the fact the Israel could not in any way go ahead with its settlement plans, and also would have great difficulty in financing its military without U.S. money, the U.S. did not enforce this ultimatum. Eventually, the U.S. granted Israel the loan in exchange for a partial freeze on settlement building, in which Israel promised not to build new settlements but could continue to expand on existing settlements to suit the incoming Jewish population in the West Bank and Gaza. That same year, Israel elected Yitzchak Rabin as Prime Minister for a second term (he had also served as Prime Minister in 1974-1977). Prime Minister Rabin had spent the previous six years as Minister of Defense, and felt strongly about the security of Israel and its rights to the land it had conquered in previous wars, although he’s often heralded as the peace-making prime minister for his efforts at Camp David.
The Oslo treaties in 1993 culminated in vague peace plans – assuming that final status agreements would come later – and a handshake between Prime Minister Rabin and Yasir Arafat. These plans, along with the historic handshake, were considered great breakthroughs, as the Israeli and Palestinian authorities were able to agree on some terms for the first time ever. However, most of the effects of the treaties (as will be explained in greater detail in the next chapter) was to legitimize what Israel had already done to destroy the UN partition plan, violate other UN resolutions, and make the viability of a sovereign Palestinian state next to impossible. The Oslo Interim agreements, as will be further explained later, gave the Palestinians an extra 80 million cubic meters per year (mcm/yr) of water, but established Israel’s control over the water extraction points and allowed for the continuing imbalance of power and water supply in the region. Despite the progress the Oslo Accords established in the immediate peace process, overall they kept Israel in the seat of power and added to the hegemony Israel is still able to hold over Palestine’s water and land, fifteen years later and no closer to a final status agreement.
The assassination of Rabin in 1995 by an orthodox Jew angry about the Oslo Accords made the peace effort all the harder and the tentative relations between Israelis and Palestinians collapsed into several years’ tension, culminating in the Second Intifada (2000-2002). By 2002 the death toll from the Intifada was 2,400 Palestinians and 780 Israelis, as well as a total shutdown of the Palestinian economy and Palestinian freedom of movement. Little has changed on this matter since the end of the Intifada.
A key issue in the conflict between Jews and Arabs on this small piece of land, and the belligerent Occupation of Palestine by the Israeli forces, is that of water rights between Israel and Palestine. Being a desert nation with a fast growing population rate, and influenced by the Zionist mission to “make the desert green,” there is simply not enough water to appease everyone. There may be enough water to sustain life for all if the water were used more conservatively and cooperatively. As it currently stands, however, Israel uses too much and the Palestinians get too little. This conflict over water is rooted back in pre-State of Israel colonialism and has been further complicated over the course of nearly one hundred years of colonialism. Under the Ottoman Empire, water was considered public property by Shari’a Law, a “gift of G-d” (Daibes, 22), administered by each municipality to the citizens as needed. In 1916, France and Britain divided the zones of their mandates in the Sykes-Picot Agreement, without ensuring that water rights would be consistent with land rights, or without really mentioning water rights at all, such that anyone was allowed to access water, even if it rested under private property. In 1917, the Zionists were promised a national home by the Balfour Declaration, but the plans that were drawn up by the British for this Zionist homeland in 1919 did not include adequate water resources for the Zionists’ standards. Overall, the British Mandate generally adhered to the Ottoman standards of water distribution (that is, free for all), but also stipulated that any water extraction would require a permit by the High Commissioner of Palestine. These British Mandate laws pertaining to water access were maintained, not by force but by the status quo, in the West and East Banks of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan up until the 1967 acquisition of the West Bank by Israel.
In the immediate aftermath of the 1948 War, with the control of water with UN-determined Israeli borders being handed from the British to the newly constructed Israel, the number of Jews living in this land increased by 53%. Though most of these immigrants were Holocaust survivors and were used to the notion of rationing, they were used to an environment where water was naturally in near limitless supply. Now that they were free of rationing, they did not understand how to conserve the scarce water supply found in the deserts of the Middle East. Plans were drawn up within the new state of Israel as early as 1948 for a National Water Carrier (NWC), although its operations did not officially commence until 1964, to divert water from the Jordan River basin to the Northern Negev, in order to “make the desert bloom,” as is the Zionist mission. The NWC was meant to only apply to the U.N. determined Israeli borders, as Israel did not acquire control of Gaza or the West Bank until years later.
Israel relies heavily on the Western Mountain Aquifer, which rests within the West Bank. Before the 1967 Occupation, Israel had access to some of that water, from water extraction points on the border. From 1967 on, Israel was able to gain access to many more water extraction points in the Occupied Territories. The utilization of groundwater in the post-1967 Territories was governed by Israel alone and was subject to Israel’s 1959 Water Laws, allowing Palestinians to access water only from wells drilled prior to 1967, while Israel continued to survey more underground water resources and drill wherever it found necessary. Mostly, Jordanian Law continued to apply to the wells that were already drilled, in that Palestinians had free access to them, but Israel declared in June of 1967 that West Bank water could be subject to changes at any time according to the 1959 Water Law, which made land ownership distinct from water rights, and disallowed water use to be transferred, among other stipulations.
The Interim Agreements of the late 1990s signified the recognition from both parties of the need to protect the environment and water rights, among other things. However, Appendix 1 of Annex III, Article 40 of this document only dealt with the immediate water needs of the Palestinians, granting them an extra 80 mcm/yr (Daibes, 33). No effort was made at that time to establish an equitable water sharing plan, but recognized that one was needed. In many ways, this overlooking of long-term sustainability for Palestinian water rights only further legitimized the control Israel already held over the 36 wells in the Mountain Aquifer System. By not acknowledging that this 80 mcm still did not allow the Palestinians the same access to water that Israelis enjoyed, the water plan ignored issues of population growth and left no space for Palestinian agriculture.
The Interim Agreements were negotiated by a third party, the United States, and followed the customary international law standards, based on equitable and reasonable utilization of resources. The Palestinian Authority was willing to accept the terms of this agreement, as they believed it to be a step forward toward their goal of self-determination and autonomy from the occupying force. Since this was the first negotiation to discuss water rights at all, even the 80 mcm they received seemed like a good sign. Israel, however, was resistant to acknowledging any jurisdiction of International Law of any kind, because it enjoys the illegal hegemonic control over Palestine. For Israel, acknowledging the law or these agreements would have meant acknowledging that it had been acting in contradiction to them, and would have forced it to relinquish some of the West Bank water that it is so dependent on. Furthermore, as difficult as it is to enforce customary international law (non-codified rules) on any sovereign nation, the case of Israel/Palestine has been made all the more complicated by the lack of sovereignty on the side of the Palestinians.
While it is true that Palestine is not a sovereign nation, it does – to some extent – fulfill the four stipulations of statehood under International Law: permanent population, defined territory, government, and capacity to enter into relations with other states. Although its population is growing by its increasing birthrates, and some families have returned from abroad in the last 60 years since leaving their homes as a result of the 1948 War, the population is mostly stable, and has not been subject to massive migrations since 1948. It has a defined territory with the Green Line, despite how much of that land Israel has tried to acquire through illegally moving civilian populations or building the Barrier (in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention V Article 49). The Palestinians in the West Bank are governed by the Palestinian Authority (Fatah), and in Gaza governed by Hamas. It is unclear if the International Law requires a unified government, or only some proof that governance is in place, so the fulfillment of this stipulation is shaky. Palestine has the capacity to enter into relations with other states, as is evident by its constant negotiations with Israel. Palestine has even declared independence, in 1988. Despite the fact that Palestine is still not free, it should be under the protection of and held accountable to International Law, as the Montevideo Convention on Human Right and Duties of States provides that the political existence of a state is not dependent on the recognition of its existence by any other state (Daibes, 20). Unfortunately, Israel and the UN do not seem to always agree, and the Palestinian Authority has little standing in the international political community.
Despite the difficulties history has wrought upon the water conflict between Israel and Palestine, Machon Arava has taught patience and hope for the process of environmental reconciliation. Besides the students of the Arava Institute, and their projects since leaving, there are others working toward this goal, though we are few and far between. Throughout the researching and writing this Div III, it was easy to feel bogged down by the oppression of the Palestinians over the last one hundred years or so. But the interviewing and talking to fellow Arava students reinforced the hope and it is my intention to present this environmental warfare and peace process as optimistically as possible.