Stabilizing the World with Water

Parashat ha-Shavua     פָּרָשַׁת הַשָּׁבוּעַ

And Jacob blessed Pharaoh (Genesis 47:1)
ויברך יעקב את פרעה (בראשית מז:י)

Following the fateful meeting between Jacob, Joseph’s father and the King of Egypt, we read that Jacob blessed the king before departing. What blessing did the forefather offer the Egyptian monarch? The Midrash offers three suggestions: “Said Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korchah: [He blessed him that] ‘Your years should be greater than mine’; Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai suggested that [he blessed him that] the Nile should rise on my account and sustain the entirety of Egypt. Another opinion is that he blessed him by halting the final five years of famine.” One can view these three suggestions as three elements of a single theme: in a nation ravaged by famine, the most important blessing that Jacob can offer is water—that the Nile should rise and water a famished countryside. This would, of course, end the famine— which would in turn give the Pharaoh the national stability that would ensure him both a long reign, and a long life. As far back as Jacob’s time, the steady supply of water represented a critical aspect of national and international stability.

Last month, Israel announced that it will soon begin laying a new pipeline that will double the water supply Israel provides to Jordan, Globes reported. “The new, 5.5 km Kinneret-Beit Shean pipeline will pass mainly through Jordan Valley agricultural areas and will provide the Hashemite kingdom with up to 100 million cubic meters of water per year, compared with 50 million cubic meters at present. The laying of the new pipeline is of critical importance for Jordan. Due to the ongoing civil war in Syria, millions of refugees have flocked to Jordan, resulting in a real water crisis which has made the need to increase water supply more vital than ever.” In exchange, Israel will receive water from the Jordanian desalination plant to be established in Aqaba. Additionally, Jordan recently chose the five firms that will build the first phase of a multi-million-dollar canal linking the Red Sea to the shrinking Dead Sea, following the historic 2015 water treaty between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
As water grows increasingly scarce not only in the Middle East, but around the world, Israel’s water technologies will play a critical role in regional and global stability. Moreover, Israel’s desire and willingness to share not only its know-how, but its water resources, represent an important anchor of stability and a force for peace in very volatile region. Shabbat Shalom