Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an ambitious new desalination project that will address the current multi-year drought. But the surprising way he chose to present the new program, offering much-needed aid to Israel’s sworn enemy, had a Biblical precedent as well as prophetic end-of days implications.
The Israeli government revealed on Sunday a new desalination program that, at an estimated cost of $30 million, will bring fresh water directly to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The project is being fast-tracked and is expected to bring up to 100 million cubic meters of desalinated water to Israel’s main water source within the next four years.
Israel is suffering its fifth consecutive year of drought and the Kinneret is currently at 689 feet below sea level, over one-and-a-half feet below the lower red line. In 2001, the Sea of Galilee was at an even lower level, 705 feet below sea level -considered as the “black line” – below which irreversible ecological problems may begin to occur.
The project will also rehabilitate seven streams in northern Israel. The plan includes the construction of two new desalination plants on the Mediterranean Coast in the Western Galilee. The Energy and Water Resources Ministry also set desalination goals through 2030 that will double the current output of desalinated water to 3,885 million cubic feet.
“Over the years, Israel has shown an amazing ability to deal with the water problem, which has caused endless conflicts in our region for thousands of years, also in the new era,” Netanyahu said, at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “But thanks to technology, initiatives, and creativity, we have succeeded in overcoming it.”
Netanyahu made a video announcing the project to the public and, most surprisingly, offered the technology to Israel’s enemy; Iran. In the video, Netanyahu pointed out that nearly 96 percent of Iranians suffer from some effects of drought.
“Israel has the know-how to prevent environmental catastrophe in Iran,” Netanyahu said in the video. “I want to share this [water technology] information with the people of Iran.”
The prime minister announced his plans to open a Farsi-language website making this information available to all Iranians.
“The Iranian regime shouts ‘Death to Israel’”, Netanyahu said. “In response, Israel shouts ‘Life to the Iranian people.’”
In a very real sense, Netanyahu is providing water to his enemies, just as Isaac opened up wells.
Yitzchak dug anew the wells which had been dug in the days of his father Avraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Avraham’s death; and he gave them the same names that his father had given them. Genesis 26:18
“Israel is meant to be a ‘Light unto the nations’”, Rabbi Trugman said to Breaking Israel News. “This can be manifested on two levels. It can be accomplished through Israel’s spiritual light, by taking the light of the spiritual, ethical and moral teachings of the Torah and sharing them with all peoples. This is, of course, the realization of the prophecy in Isaiah.”
And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of Hashem, To the House of the God of Yaakov; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction shall come forth from Tzion, The word of Hashem from Yerushalayim. Isaiah 2:3
“The Talmud (Bava Kama 17A) states that ‘There is no water except Torah!’,” Rabbi Trugman said. “But Israel can also spread light out into the world via life-giving technology and, in this case, water technology.”
He emphasized that this Messianic imperative is even more pronounced when sharing it with our enemies in a manner that brings peace.
“For thus said Hashem: I will extend to her peace like a river, the glory of nations like a flowing stream…” Isaiah 66:12
“This is very much connected to the future river that will come out from the Temple Mount and sweetening all the waters of the world,” Rabbi Trugman said, referring to Zechariah ’s prophecy.
“And it shall come to pass in that day that living waters shall go out from Yerushalayim: half of them toward the eastern (primordial) sea and half of them toward the western (last) sea; in summer and in winter shall it be.” Zechariah 14:8
“This river going to the ‘last sea’ alludes to the end of days, the time of Moshiach (Messiah),” Rabbi Trugman said. “Netanyahu is doing this literally. He is attempting to send out water, or at least water technology, to help heal the waters of the world.”
Some ecologists are less enthusiastic about desalination as the solution to Israel’s water shortage. Rabbi Shaul Judelman, former director of the Ecology Beit Midrash, a religious study group focused on the environment as it is treated in classical Jewish sources, is one of those people.
“The geography in Israel is deep-rooted in spirituality,” Rabbi Judelman told Breaking Israel News. “The land teaches us to pray to the source of all life in order to bring rain.”
Rabbi Judelman pointed out that the section of the daily prayers requesting rain also deals with the resurrection of the dead.
“In the Talmud (Tractate Berachot 33a), God’s power of bringing the rain is compared to his power to revive the dead,” Rabbi Judelman said. “It is visible proof that the power of life is entirely in God’s hands. This present water crisis shows us that we mismanaged this blessing.”
“Desalination is not a free and clear replacement for the blessing of rain that comes from God,” he said. “It might be better to take this as a moral lesson.”
“In the land of Israel, the Talmud teaches us that it is better not to irrigate,” Rabbi Judelman explained. “The Talmud (Tractate Taanit) explains that in times of drought, the people would check to see that enough charity was being given, that the markets were being run properly, that there was no gossip. These man-made solutions allow us to skip over this introspective step in the process.”
“A society that distributes its wealth properly is a society that merits this blessing of rain,” Rabbi Judelman emphasized. “Rain is very democratic. It falls equally for rich and poor. The Jewish people should lift up their eyes to heaven and ask for rain from our father in heaven.”
“This is the first time that desalination is being used to replace a natural body of water,” Rabbi Judelman said. “It provides a solution for the individuals but we need to realize that this is not fixing whatever it is that is deeply broken that brought us to this.”