Friends of the Earth Middle East “FoEME” in collaboration with Experience Jordan concluded its 2nd Jordan Valley Triathlon & Duathlon titled “Swim, Cycle, Run to Help Save the Jordan River” on the 29th of March, 2014 at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark. Read More…
On the 28th of March, 2014, Friends of the Earth Middle East concluded its 2nd visit to the Jordan Valley titled: “Crossing the Jordan Tour: Partnering in Good Faith towards the Rehabilitation of the Jordan River” Read More…
Emek Hefer and Tulkarem: March 6-8, 2014
Tucked away in Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh, a group of 20 students ages 12-15 from the communities of Emek Hefer and Tulkarem, as well as six staff members, came together for a fun-filled weekend of outdoor adventure activities, making cross-cultural friendships and learning about the environment. Read More…
The Housflies Problem
20th of February 2014
FoEME has organized a Parliamentarian tour to the South Ghor Municipality to attract their attention to one of the most urgent environmental problems; the houseflies problem.
The tour included MP. Shadi AlAdwan, MP Mazen Jawazneh, MP Mefleh Eisheibat, Mr. Abdalla Mayta- Governor of South Ghor, Mr. Ahmad Oneh – the Mayor of South Ghor as well as farmers from the community.
The tour started by visiting a traditional farm in Ghor Mezra’a where Mr. Sameer Habashneh talked about the use of raw chicken manure as a fertilizer in his land and the main challenges that make it hard to follow the best agricultural practices. The Parliamentarians have noticed the houslfies problem and became aware of the fact that the use of raw chicken manure is the main reason behind it.
The second stop was at the sinkholes in the Dead Sea area where representatives from FoEME explained more about the necessity to stabilize the Dead Sea level through the rehabilitation of the Jordan River and the importance of reconsidering the technologies used by the potash and Bromine Companies.
The visit concluded with the following recommendations:
1- The creation of a “model farm” that will allow farmers to witness best agricultural practices on the ground. This will promote economic development via the merging of local Jordanian knowledge and available land and water resources with Israeli experience and technology and pest alleviation in means that support sustainable agricultural development.. They will learn and experience the equipment first-hand in order to grant the FoEME and the program their trust and in order to remove any doubts or suspicions. New and modern equipment is going to be used to ensure minimum costs on the long-run as well as rewarding outcomes. New equipment is going to be available for the accessibility of all farmers in the municipality. This will, hopefully, raise their awareness concerning the need for a long-term solution for the housefly problem.
2- Raising awareness and enforcing the environmental standards that protect public health and the environment is a crucial aspect. The sustainability of such projects is ensured using regulation and accreditation, environmental protection guidelines, and efforts to preserve ecosystems as risk. Consequently, this program will be in direct collaboration with Rangers and the Ministry of Environment. The objective here is to amend current health and environmental laws as well as the evaluation and the monitoring of the effectiveness of these laws.
3- A compost factory is to be built near chicken and cow farms to treat manure directly after its disposal. Not only will this result in a long-term solution for the housefly problem, but it will also ensure better quality of crops as compost is the key ingredient in organic farming. One aspect of interest for the farmers is that if a compost factory is built near their farms, manure could be exchanged for a reduced price.
Farmers also added that marketing is a big problem for them nowadays due to the political situation in neighboring countries; they requested a central vegetable market to be constructed in South Ghor.
MP Mazen Gawazneh stated that before working on enforcing the law that prevents the use of raw chicken manure, we need to start by providing other options and we need to have the compost factory operating first.
At the end they all agreed on the importance of this initiative and pledged to support the organization and the proposed projects; the MPs will be organizing a hearing in the lower house of Parliament with the minister of Environment, the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Water and Irrigation and invite FoEME to speak about the problem and projects proposed.
This post is contributed by Hana Alassad FoEMEs Jordanian Good Water Neighbors “Adults” Project Coordinator.
Feb. 23, 2014
The first-ever interfaith concert for the restoration of the Jordan River was held in Brooklyn on February 23, 2014 at the Kane Street Synagogue. The event was one big high. The musicians, spectacular, all got along great, spontaneously joining up with each other.
Samer Tabari was super exciting – people were clapping and would have danced, as he sang playing the keyboard a mawal (prelude song) about the Jordan, then a song called Ya Elordonya (Oh Jordan), and then the vibrant song for fairouz saloni el nas. Joey Weisenberg and mandolin backed up Samer in a very moving way.
The Peace of Heart choir were rousing and got people singing along with Peace/Shalom Salaam, Down by the Riverside, and their signature song Let There be Peace on Earth, and Let it Begin with Me. At the end, everyone joined in to sing Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.
Dave Hall, a highly accomplished musician, accompanied himself on the guitar tugging the heart strings with Across Tiberius, written by himself on a melody by J.S. Bach and then All My Trials, an American traditional song with the words, “Jordan River is chilly and cold, chills the body but not the soul.”
Joey Weisenberg, as always charismatic and engaging, as part of a five-member band performed a song he wrote about the Jordan River, Rise, Rise Sweet Waters: it had the elements of a spiritual and everyone sang along at the top of their voices. Joey introduced it by sharing some stories from the Midrash about the Leviathan (the primordial, massive sea-creature) and the Re’em (a formidable mythic Bull) — able to drain and despoil the river in ways painfully reflective of what has actually transpired in recent decades, the very real damage by contemporary governments.
Rabbi Simkha Weintraub’s remarks were perfect and inspiring, “Abraham crossed over from Mesopotamia, and the Israelites crossed over after wandering for 40 years after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. The Jordan River stimulates in us a profound appreciation of our history and the memory of our journey, recalling our heritage and our freedom…. The Jordan is there to be crossed over, if you will. It calls out to us to join heads, hands, and hearts with the Other, to reach across boundaries, with the peoples on the other sides of this remarkable water system that navigates from lush sources high up North through all kinds of territory to the lowest point on Earth, the salty Dead Sea.”
Dr. Ahmad Jaber’s remarks too were to the point, ranging from his experience as a youth in Palestine of the flowing River Jordan, and then a visit last year to a much different river; the relationship of the river to Islam, Mohammed’s companions buried by the river, giving their names to places; and the assertion that if the sides can get together to clean up the river, then they surely can make peace.
FoEME’s Israeli Director Gidon Bromberg was on hand to update the crowd about the current state of the Jordan River and how they could join FoEME’s campaign to rehabilitate the Jordan River by endorsing the Jordan River covenant and taking action in their local communities. More ideas for how faith based communities and others can support the rehabilitation of the Jordan can be found in our faith based publication series.
The event was organized by Roberta Weisbrod Ph.D. an environmentalist, Co-chair of American Friends of Friends of the Earth Middle East from its earliest days, and Rabbi Simkha Weintraub.
More about the artists:
Samer “Sami” Tabari (listen https://soundcloud.com/samer-tabari) is a Palestinian vocalist who comes from a family of musicians and singers. He began to learn and play keyboard at age 11 and by age 14 was performing at weddings and parties with many famous singers and musicians. At age 18, Tabari moved to the U.S. and formed his own band. In addition to being a vocalist and musician, Tabari is also a producer and composer.
The Peace of Heart Choir http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLL5K_jBuZA formed immediately after 9/11 to participate in a community-healing event. By November of that year they had their first stand-alone concert, now giving about 20 concerts a year. Their mission is to promote healing, diversity, community bonding, and mutual understanding within local communities. As part of this mission, they go out into the community free of charge, for non-profit organizations, area shelters, hospitals, service providers, and any not-for-profit engagement that promotes healing, diversity, community bonding and mutual understanding.
David Hall, http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0ew10vcucKoF9UJp0aTfmg a fourth-generation Brooklynite, is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music. He’s known for his recordings and performances of his original folk-rock, his work as a composer and lyricist for musical theater, and for his Chamber music. A multi-ethnic American, he’s very proud of his Arab heritage and is deeply committed to peace, democracy and human rights both in the US and in the Middle East. An ardent environmentalist, he is glad to be present at this event. “Across Tiberius” is one of the most expressive songs performed.
Joey Weisenberg (http://joeyweisenberg.com/videos-music-books/videos/) is a mandolinist, guitarist, singer and percussionist based in New York City, who has performed and recorded internationally with dozens of bands in a wide variety of musical styles. Joey works as the Music Director at Brooklyn’s oldest synagogue, the Kane Street Synagogue, and is the music faculty at Yeshivat Hadar, an egalitarian yeshiva in New York. Joey visits shuls and communities around the country as a musician-in-residence, most recently Alaska, in which he teaches his popular ‘Spontaneous Jewish Choir’ workshops.
Rabbi Simkha Weintraub is the Rabbinic Director of Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. His mission and function is healing, now centrally involved in New York Jewish Healing Center and National Center for Jewish Healing. He frequently participates in interfaith conferences in the Middle East in Muslim nations. Simkha has a strong connection with EcoPeace/ Friends of the Earth Middle East, when has a Director of Public Education of New Israel Fund he supported FoEME’s early efforts.
Ahmad Jaber is a doctor, a gynecologist/obstetrician who delivered over 5000 babies. He was born in Palestine and came here to study and live in 1974. In early 2001 he co-founded the Arab American Association of New York as a social service organization, which after September shifted its focus to express interfaith solidarity as well as to protect the rights of members. He is Chairman of the Board of Brooklyn’s first mosque – The Dawood Mosque– and is a very active member of the Brooklyn Interfaith Clergy.
This post is contributed by Roberta Weisbrod, Co-Chairperson of American Friends of FoEME
Photographs by Hai Knafo
Dead Sea, Jordan
On Thursday, 13th February, 2014 Mrs. Susanne Eberstein, the Swedish Deputy Speaker of Parliament along with Swedish parliamentarians visited the Mouth of the Jordan River; the point where the Jordan River meets the Dead Sea. The visit that was organized by Friends of the Earth Middle East “FoEME” included extensive explanations about the current status of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. The River, according to Mr., Munqeth Mehyar Chairperson and Jordanian Director of FoEME, is presently a degraded system due to severe flow reduction and water quality decline. The river lost over 98% of its historic flow because it is diverted by Israel, Syria, and Jordan for domestic and agricultural use. The remaining flow consists of sewage, fish pond waters, agricultural run-off diverted into the LJR from salt springs around the Sea of Galilee. The River lost over 50% of its biodiversity due to loss of fast flow habitats, floods, and high salinity of the water.
Abuse of the River’s waters led to the degradation of the Dead Sea as well affirms Ms., Yana Abu Taleb, FoEMEs Jordanian Assistant Director. The Dead Sea has already lost over 1/3 of its surface area and its level has fallen over 25 meters since development of the region started early this century. She added that the depth of the sea is continuing to drop by over 1 meter per year with an expected shrinking shoreline of 430 meters by the year 2020 compared to its present 411 meters. Water inflow levels have already been reduced to just 5% of its original volume with annual surface inflows in the future predicted to only further decrease. The deterioration in the Sea level will not only cause drying up of micro-eco-systems leading to land-subsidence known as “sink holes” but will also reflect negatively on tourism; a major income generator she added.
Mr., Nader Alkhatib; FoEMEs Palestinian Director elaborated on the organizations efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River and to save the Dead Sea that vary from awareness campaigns to lobbying governments to pass resolution intended to end abusing the River’s waters. After the thorough explanations, Mrs., Eberston commended the organizations diligent efforts and its attempts to garner trilateral cooperation between the governments of Jordan, Palestine, and Israel to solve pending environmental issues. The visitors then concluded the visit with a lunch on the shoreline of the Dead Sea.
This post is contributed by Samar M. Salma, FoEMEs Jordanian Media Officer, PR, and Projects Coordinator.
8-9th February, 2014
Dead Sea, Jordan
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean “PA-UFM” held a meeting of the committee on Energy, Environment and Water that took place at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center. The meeting was attended by representatives from “PA-UFM” and included H.E. Dr. Hazem Alnaser; Minister of Water and Irrigation and Mr., Munqeth Mehyar, Chairperson and Jordanian Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East “FoEME”.
Mr., Mehyar commended the hard work of the Jordanian government represented in the Ministry of Water in addressing rising water challenges in Jordan and stressed the importance of partnership between NGOs and the Government emphasizing the exemplary relationship FoEME has with the Jordanian government.
He congratulated the governments of Jordan, Israel, and Palestine on signing a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a desalination Plant in addition to reaching a swapping of water agreement and stressed that water problems can only be solved via trilateral cooperation.
Mr., Mehyar spoke about the Red-Dead canal project stating clearly that the study of alternatives presents solutions to the receding Dead Sea through the rehabilitating of the JR in addition to a combination of alternatives.
Media Office, PR, and Project Coordinator