Our favorite peace-water NGO Friends of the Earth Middle East have just held a conference in Jordan last week and there had faith leaders sign the “Covenant for the Jordan River” to save the Jordan River.
“As written in the Holy Koran, water is the source of all creation. It is taught in Islam that water is the right of everyone. Islam teaches us to respect water, not to waste it and not to pollute it,” said Dr. Sabri, Mofti of Al Quds and the Holy Land, representing the Muslim faith at the event.
After years of on the ground peace-building the NGO has gone the way of faith and has managed to get faith leaders: Jewish, Muslim and Christian from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan to sign up to save the great River Jordan.
Well, actually the great River Jordan is really an under-statement. The river has seen better days.
A locally-run NGO has sprung to action: During a region wide conference held by EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) on the Northern shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan last week, senior clerics and representatives from the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – gathered together to learn about the current state of the Lower Jordan River and to endorse the Covenant for the Jordan River calling on regional governments to work together towards its rehabilitation.
The Lower Jordan River, holy to the three religions, once boasted a lush wetland ecosystem that was the biological heart of the Valley.
Sadly, the once “deep and wide” river has been highly demised over the past 50 years.
Diversion of 96% of the River’s waters for domestic and agricultural uses has left precious little fresh water for the river and its once thriving ecosystem. Sewage (like what I saw here), agricultural runoff and highly saline streams are allowed to flow into the Jordan, polluting its waters and causing a drop by half of the river’s biodiversity.
According to a recent economic report published by FoEME, the touristic potential of the Lower Jordan, if rehabilitated, could bring significant increased religious tourism to the region.
They determined religion could start a call to action.
Faith Based ‘Toolkits’ for Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities were presented at the regional conference, giving an introduction to the issue of the demise of the Jordan River as well as suggestions for how communities can act to support the river’s rehabilitation.
More in-depth ‘Sourcebooks’ are also available, offering a rich collection of scripture, sermons, essays and poems, songs and other tools to help leaders of each faith to engage their communities on the need to rehabilitate the River.
Here’s a sum up of what leaders from each of the faiths had to say:
Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp: President and Founder of the Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values, The Hague, Netherlands: “A quiet revolution is taking place. This is the first time in history that we are speaking in one voice towards the River Jordan. Humanity, like the river, is one body – when one part of the body is hurt; all humanity suffers, as the River Jordan suffers.”
Attallah Hanna, Archbishop of Roman Orthodox: “We all believe in one God and it is our duty as believers to maintain the environment. God has blessed us in our region because it is a river who gives sanctity and beauty. Hence our duty to defend the river and maintain the river.”