Transcript: Podship Earth Episode 035: Ramallah
JARED BLUMENFELD: Welcome to Podship Earth. This is your host, Jared Blumenfeld. This week, we traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah and Beitillu, a small Palestinian village, to talk with Dr. Abdelrahman Tamimi and to Hanadi Bader about the current state of water in the West Bank. My mother's brother, Robert Becker, who I called Uncle Bobby, came to Israel in the 1970’s as a doctor. He worked at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Bobby was one of the few doctors who routinely traveled to the West Bank. This was only a few years after The Six Day War and a lot of help was needed, as it is today. He cared for the children, those who are sick and very scared, those who are living under the constant shadow of a trauma such as terminal cancer or open-heart surgery. He felt and lived their pain. He bought them the toys they always dreamed of and for those who died, he went to their funerals. He had no barriers. All were his children - Jewish, Arab or Christian. He was a believer in God and humanity. He was selfless. He treated them with respect, patience, and care, and they in return, were honored to make him fresh, mint tea that he loved. He fended for them. It became the voice they never had, even among their own people. Robert died of a heart attack on February 19th, 1981, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin while on Sabbatical away from his beloved Holy Land. This episode is dedicated to his memory and his wife Shoshana and his two wonderful daughters and my first cousins. Cousin David and I told by everyone we talked to in Tel Aviv that it was just too dangerous for us to travel to the West Bank, but we, like Uncle Bobby, were determined. Eventually we got some good intel. We went to the American Colony hotel in east Jerusalem and found an Arab taxi cab driver called Faisal. We had an amazing adventure. We just went through the border checkpoint.
DAVID KAHN: It was super easy, but as soon as you get in, there's a wall and there's a huge mural of Yasser Arafat with the word free next to it. And immediately, you know, it hits you. And then not even a kilometer later there's a huge Coca Cola billboard, and I'm looking at that and I'm like, wow, this is so normal. We're just in another city.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, a lot of traffic, a lot of traffic everywhere.
DAVID KAHN: Yeah, it definitely is.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, then our goal was to get to doctor Tamimi with the Palestine Hydrological Society and we got a little bit lost, which is cool cause then you get to see the city.
DAVID KAHN: Yeah. I mean I didn't know that we were really lost. We were just driving around.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Before we talk with Dr. Tamimi, a little bit of context. Here's a clip from 25 years ago when the Oslo accords were signed.
NEWS REPORTER: What a sight on the 13th of September 1993, when then Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin,with the then president of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, signed the Oslo agreement with U.S. President Bill Clinton.
BILL CLINTON: Today, with all our hearts and all our souls, we bid them Shalom, Salaam, peace.
NEWS REPORTER: This laid a foundation for Palestinian self-rule, although numerous difficult points remained to be worked out between the eternal enemies. At last, piece had a hope.
YITZHAK RABIN: We fought against you, the Palestinians we say do you today, in a loud, clear voice, enough of blood and tears. Enough! Thank you. Thank you.
JARED BLUMENFELD: One of the difficult issues that was left till the end of what was hoped would be a final peace process, was the equitable distribution of water resources. Unfortunately, peace has not been forthcoming and so those complex and thorny issues around water have remained unresolved. We sit down with Dr. Abdelrahman Tamimi, the director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group for water and environmental resources and development. Dr. Tamimi has spent the last 32 years working in the field of water resources in the occupied territories. During the last 19 years, he's focused on water resource management and planning at the regional and national levels. I start by asking Dr. Tamimi to help us get situated.
DR. TAMIMI: Ramallah is in the middle of the West Bank, and it is a very liberal city and at the same time, growing very fast. It's a peaceful city in terms of the internal security because it's a very liberal city in that people, they accept the others, but it is not peaceful in terms of relations with Israelis. There is always a clash between the people in Ramallah and Ramallah villages with the Israeli settlements.
JARED BLUMENFELD: What is the settlement?
DR. TAMIMI: The settlement is the nice name for colonies actually. This is the definition of occupation. That is what it is. They come and take water and land by force. Of course, most of them, they are coming for economic reasons. They have free land, they have free water, they have a lot of incentives from the government and also, totally protected by the army.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, tell us from a very basic perspective, what the water issues are.
DR. TAMIMI: In Palestine and in most of the Mediterranean countries, water is a political, social, and economical issue. And what is the main, the driver of the problem? We have very limited water resources because we are in semi desert area and we have a huge demand. Population growth, economic development and urbanization, climate change - all these drivers, they're making the water issue is very complicated and at the same time, the Palestinians and Israelis, they are sharing the same aquifers. Sharing the same aquifer means everyone, the Israeli side and the Palestinian side, tries to make his share bigger. That’s why the whole conflict is about how to share the cake. You can't live without enough drinking water for one day. That's why the water issue is his main driver for conflict. And it's a part of the clash between Palestinians and Israelis because everyone wants to control the water resources. And unfortunately, the political dimension of this problem is that the Israelis claim this is their historic right, their religious right. And the Palestinians, they have the same claims.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Ultimately, for equity, everyone needs to share the water because there's limited water and more and more people. So how, how is that happening?
DR. TAMIMI: Equity with occupation doesn't work together because you come and occupy another people’s land and other people’s water and use it for your benefit without taking into consideration the interest of other side, which is the Palestinians in this case. That's why the conflict, the core of the conflict, there is occupied and there is the occupier. And the relationship between the occupied and the occupier, like any case in the world, is always unbalanced, unjust and unfair.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So where is the water?
DR. TAMIMI: Unfortunately, we have two resources of water, both very limited. Groundwater, which is from rain filtrated to the groundwater. And this is overexploited, and also, we have the Jordan River. The Palestinian quota before 1967, used to be around 250 million cubic meters from the Jordan River. Because the Israelis, they considered it as a security zone. Now, the Palestinian share is zero. While the Iberian countries, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Israel, they take their share from the Jordan River while the Palestinians aren’t allowed (by the Israelis) to go to the river to take water or even to see the river.
JARED BLUMENFELD: If you did go and see the river though, there's not much water flowing.
DR. TAMIMI: The Israelis diverted 75% of the river to inside Israel to a project called National Water Carrier. And what we see now in the Jordan River, it's not actually the natural flow of the river. It is the Tiberia City wastewater.
JARED BLUMENFELD: How are farmers existing now and what have they had to do?
DR. TAMIMI: Before 1967, in the Jordan river areas on Palestinian side, we had 27% of the agricultural areas under irrigation, and the main source was groundwater and the Jordan River. But now it is less than 1%. Less than 1% of agricultural area is under irrigation.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Has the population of farmers grown or shrunk in the last 40 years?
DR. TAMIMI: Because in the Jordan River, you only have agricultural based communities. And most of them now they moved to the cities because there is no water available for agriculture. That's why they are going to work in Israeli settlements or in Palestinian cities. The agriculture land shrank and the population numbers are also reduced.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, what is the remaining agriculture?
DR. TAMIMI: Agriculture is family-based agriculture and the people, they just want to sustain their livelihood. It's not an economic process.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, when you look at the history of water in the region….
DR. TAMIMI: Either there is cooperation between Palestinians, Jordanians and the Israelis to share fairly the available water resources or the conflict will continue on. Water can be a driver for peace if there is a cooperation or a war, if there is no cooperation.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, let's start with peace. So, tell us, what would a vision look like for a better equitable solution?
DR. TAMIMI: We have two concepts. The first concept is the existing water resources in the area from the Jordan River until Mediterranean, it's one hydrologic basin. From an engineering point of view and from a technical point of view, you cannot divide this is Palestinian water, this is Israeli water. Because our water flows to Israel, Israeli water flows to Gaza Strip. That's why we have to recognize these natural parameters, natural restrictions. We cannot talk about, this is our water, this is Israeli water. The second concept is to talk about water from two angles. The first angle is water as a basic human right. If you are a Muslim, Christian, Jew, settler, Palestinian, you have the basic right to a drink enough water. If this formula is accepted by Israelis, that will be no problem to share the water. The second thing is that the Israelis have to give up the occupier mentality and the Palestinians, they have to give up the occupied psychology.
JARED BLUMENFELD: How do the socio-economics play into this?
DR. TAMIMI: Of course, any solution should take into consideration the affordability of the people of the cost of water. For example, the Israelis, they have the high technology for desalination and the Israeli income is 29,000 per capita a year and the Palestinians is around 1,500 which is a large gap. The Israelis, they can afford the salination blends, which the Palestinians cannot. This is should be taken into consideration. The second thing is in our argument based on a human rights issue, there is 32 declaration, international declarations and conventions consider water as a basic human right. Now regardless of your nationality, to have a village without water and next door, and in the Israeli settlements, they have a swimming pool. This is not from a political point of view, from a human rights point of view, from a dignity point of view. It's not acceptable. That's why in our organization, always we talk about dignity of the people, the settlers. They have the right to drink water, but they don't have the right to over pump our resources to grow flowers or to have swimming pools because the neighbors, so called neighbors, they are actually in bad need for drinking water.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Are there any fora or discussions about these issues or is it just, they don't even want to talk to you? How is this issue being moved forward?
DR. TAMIMI: The solution is difficult. It's there on the table. But it is difficult, the implementing of the solution for water problems because politics are the main pollutant for water problem. The Israelis, they don't want to give up the mentality of the occupier. This is our land. We take it by force, and the Palestinians are customers, not citizens. They're Israeli technical people always believe in what we are saying. But the political people, no, they want to see the Palestinians as customers for Israeli desalination plants at commercial bases, not citizens in their country. If you go to the Israeli headquarter, so called civil administration, to manage the whole West Bank, the head of the water department is a military officer. That's why his old practice is military practice more than water management at a technical basis.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So why don't the settlers practice water conservation?
DR. TAMIMI: Some settlers, they came from rich water countries from the Netherlands or came from Europe or came from Russia. They never thought about water problems and they kept the practices, showers, swimming pools, and flowers, which mean water for us. That's why when the Israelis talk about a shortage of water, they talk about less luxurious life. When we are talking about shortage of water, we talk about drinking water. We have no water, we are thirsty. We are thirsty. I'm from a village, where water is running once a week, once a week. And some villages, they receive water two hours a week. That's why if you look to the roofs of the Palestinians, full of storage tanks, black, black storage tanks. This is one thing from one side. The second side, the Israeli government gives incentives to the Israeli settlers for the price of water. The price of water in settlements is subsidized. And this is the only place in the world, water for drinking and agriculture is subsidized. In Israel.
JARED BLUMENFELD: And so, the settlers and even Israelis themselves are bringing kind of a European attitude…
DR. TAMIMI: That's why that the average consumption now of Israelis in the West bank settlers is around 450 cubic meter per capita a year while the Palestinians is around 140, 150 cubic meter per capita for all purposes. And also, the population of Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley for example, is around 6,000, but their consumption is a large amount because it's agricultural settlements. They control a lot of lands, large areas, and they produce products which have high water requirements.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Driving through Ramallah today, we were struck by how many rooftop rainwater catchments there were.
DR. TAMIMI: It's not the rainwater. It's they collect water from a network because they receive water once a week, and they store water for the next week. And most of the houses in villages, they have rainwater harvesting systems to produce water. Food security, water security of the Palestinians is threatened because there is not enough water.
JARED BLUMENFELD: As a result of having so little water, it seems like you're doing everything to squeeze water wherever you can. Tell us about some of the innovations.
DR. TAMIMI: We have a huge public awareness campaigns to save water and not to waste water, to use the gray water, which not wastewater, but it is without the bathroom water. To use it for gardening, production of trees or other things. And at the same time, we encourage people to collect rain water during the winter and use it in the summer. There are a lot of activities just to make Palestinians have additional water. And, at the same time, the water harvesting doesn't need Israeli permits. That's because they cannot catch the rain. But if you want to drill deep in the groundwater well, there is a long procedure. You need to get a permit from Israelis.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Do the Palestinians control the wastewater authority or do the Israelis also control that?
DR. TAMIMI: According to the Oslo agreement, all water resources, which include wastewater, is under Israeli control, and this is delayed to the final status negotiation, like refugees, border control. The resources are under Israeli control. Now the supply and to manage this water operation is under Palestinian control. It is a similar to, you do business, but I control your bank account.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, it's amazing that water is up there with Jerusalem and these very big issues are left to the end.
DR. TAMIMI: Yes. Because it's very complicated. And the Israelis, they are not in a rush to solve the water problem because they want to squeeze us to purchase Israeli desalinated water.
JARED BLUMENFELD: How will you be able to afford it?
DR. TAMIMI: They don't allow us to improve our economy to be able to afford the cost of the desalinated water. And at the same time, they want us to purchase that the desalinated water. Even the Palestinians able to afford it, we have to purchase water from Israel while our natural water, freshwater is under our feet.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, tell us about that resource, the Aquifer, the groundwater, how big a resource is it?
DR. TAMIMI: The Israelis, they use nowadays directly and indirectly, 80% of our water. And what is left is 20%, which is not enough for drinking, not enough for agriculture, and not enough for development. And, the huge problem is the climate change, because with the climate change, our rain becomes badly distributed and less rain and the water level going down, and that's why in 20 years, our aquifers, our ground water will be over bombed.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, we talked about what the peaceful, potentially peaceful solution could look like. How would conflict evolve?
DR. TAMIMI: There will be micro wars. I'll tell you how. The Palestinian villages, they will start attacking the pipes of the settlements. They will start attacking the settlements’ water infrastructure. This is the only way, and this is happening now. Some Palestinians, they steal water, but this is the only option that they are left with. Vandalism will start and micro-clashes between Palestinians and settlements.
JARED BLUMENFELD: How far would you have to dig down before you hit the aquifer?
DR. TAMIMI: It depends on the area, for example, in the Jordan River areas is 200 meters, but in the mountain areas, they’ve reached to 800.
JARED BLUMENFELD: But if I was a farmer in the Jordan river, a Palestinian farmer, and I had a drill rig, would that be illegal? Would they need a permit from Israel to do that?
DR. TAMIMI: Yes, you would need a permit. The Israelis, you can’t imagine, they are monitoring the Palestinian farmers daily by remote sensing, by satellites, by ground checking teams. All these things are happening every day and there is a lot of problems because the Israelis sometimes, they discover there is an illegal well, and they come at midnight and close it.
JARED BLUMENFELD: And what does that look like when they come at midnight and close it?
DR. TAMIMI: They put cement inside it.
JARED BLUMENFELD: What does a solution look like to you Dr. Tamimi?
DR. TAMIMI: Now, the Dead Sea is shrinking and the water level lowering around 8 something meters a year. And the expectation is in 2050, there will be no Dead Sea. Without recognition of the Palestinian human rights, the Palestinian dignity, there is no solution. I am optimistic because the the Israelis, if they don't compromise with Palestinians now, they will find themselves in the future in very bad situation. I don't like to see painful days to the Israelis, but they are going there. If you solve the political problem, then the water problem technically, hydrologically, it can be solved. Engineering solutions is there on the table. There is no thing impossible. But the Israelis, they have to understand that there are other nations living in the same area. Most of the people who are living around the Dead Sea in both sides, in Jordan and Palestine, they will immigrate to another place and in my opinion, they will go to Israel. And Israel, they have to deal with that, and this is the biggest problem that will face Israel. A flood of people goes to Israel as immigrants and the Israeli geographic cannot absorb all of these things. That's why there's really not a good future for the Israelis if they continue to occupy another nation.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Wow. That was pretty intense. That meeting. I mean, I've never learned so much in half an hour in my life.
DAVID KAHN: It's shocking some of this stuff that he was talking about. I mean, just the difference between how much money they make in Israel versus Palestine and water usage. I mean, I just don't pay attention to enough stuff. It's painful almost to hear it.
JARED BLUMENFELD: It is a human right. It doesn't seem like we should be playing politics with water.
DAVID KAHN: Yeah. I never would've thought about it in that context. To make it an issue that people don't have access to quality or quantity of water, and you know, it's disturbing.
JARED BLUMENFELD: I mean, it was kind of like, you remember, when you and I were in East Porterville talking to those folks in Visalia and the guy was telling us that, you know, two years ago, in east Porterville, they had no water at all for months. This is another place like that. It just, it's, it's hard to believe, especially in the context of just coming from Tel Aviv where there's so much of everything.
DAVID KAHN: Tel Aviv has tons of water.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, the biggest surprise I saw on your face when we left the office was the KFC in Ramallah.
DAVID KAHN: Well, I mean, look, I love KFC. I don't eat it that much anymore. But I mean, yeah, it is surprising to me to see so many American franchises here.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Hanadi was originally going to come in to Ramallah, but she couldn't. So now, David and I and Faisal are going out to visit her in the countryside. Just looking at the countryside around us, it's pretty incredible.
DAVID KAHN: Yeah. I mean, I'm glad we have Faisal all because we would be lost right now. But yeah, it's crazy.
JARED BLUMENFELD: David, we actually are lost right now with Faisal.
DAVID KAHN: But I don't have to worry about it. It's not our responsibility. He can figure it out. I feel comfortable. I mean, look at the top of the buildings, look at all the water structures. It's nothing like anything I've ever seen.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Every building has five or six or sometimes 10 black water containers. But I've never seen anything like it.
DAVID KAHN: Yeah, it's almost like everywhere. I mean it's one of the first things you notice driving through the countryside.
JARED BLUMENFELD: It looks really biblical. Like what I imagined when I thought of the Bible, like you've got these terraces, you have these olive trees. The only thing which is more present than the olive trees is the trash.
DAVID KAHN: I literally have never seen so much trash ever. It's like somebody took hundreds, thousands of trash bags and literally emptied them in the street in the countryside.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah. It's really, really sad. We're coming up on Hanadi’s house. There are kids everywhere playing in the street.
DAVID KAHN: Yeah, they're having a good time.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Finally, we arrive in Beitillu where we are greeted by Hanadi Bader and her family. Hanadi works with the Palestinian Water authority and is an expert on water and gender issues. Okay, maybe start by just telling us where we are right now.
HANADI BADER: We are in Beitillu, a little village next to Ramallah, north east of Ramallah, about 16 kilometers away. Now you are in our home. You are welcome in our home.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Thank you so much for inviting us. We really appreciate it.
HANADI BADER: You are welcome.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So how many people live in the village?
HANADI BADER: About four thousand. There is also the public service like water network, electricity network, a clinic, medical clinics and so on.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Maybe tell us a little bit about the current water situation here.
HANADI BADER: Our situation is very difficult according to everything and water of course, it's a political issue. Sometimes in summer, there is no water for a two, three months, mainly in Bedouin communities, in Hebron, in rural areas.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, what does that feel like? That uncertainty about water. If you don't have water for three months, whether you are in Bedouin community or in Hebron, what does it feel like personally?
HANADI BADER: I feel angry because I know there is enough water for all, but there is are human made borders. And when you compare your situation, even as Palestinian with other Palestinian people, you feel shame. You feel, you know, sad, you feel this mixed feeling. We have to fight more to have a solution. The real solution to remap the water situation in Palestine and to negotiate in more powerful ways to raise the water for our communities. It cannot be delayed for the final negotiation. It should be a solved right now and right here.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So how could that happen?
HANADI BADER: Fund more projects, like humanitarian projects and so on.
JARED BLUMENFELD: When you think about this issue just sitting here in the village, do you feel connected to the rest of the world or do you feel isolated?
HANADI BADER: Sometimes I feel connected because of my network, my professional network, and sometimes when it becomes to a higher level of decision making, I feel I am useless. There is nothing to do. You are subordinated. You are a restricted from doing many things. You're know everything. You see everything, but you cannot do anything.
JARED BLUMENFELD: How do these water issues affect you and women in Palestine particularly?
HANADI BADER: It’s more of a burden for women because you know, in traditional rules, women are the maternal ones. The large amount of waters is managed by women in the household, in agriculture, for many things. So, I think it effects women more than anybody else because I see when the water supply is stopped, the first one to say, Oh, what happened? is my mom. Because she realizes that she cannot do her maternal role. And you don't give them the tools to do that, they will feel like they cannot do their job in a perfect way, which creates a stressful burden, physical, psychological, mental, emotional. All of these stressors will be a part of her life. And you can imagine after that, if you live in a stress, you cannot keep your children clean, your kitchen clean. It can be a big burden, and I think women will pay for that.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So how does your faith in Islam give you optimism about the environment in the future?
HANADI BADER: I believe that there is no one can live this life without God. Protection, water, climate change, environmental, agricultural, all of these things are within God’s decisions. We are just actors and we have to play and act in very active and clever ways. But in the end, it goes to God.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Tell us a little bit about agriculture in this region.
HANADI BADER: Every person here and every family here in the village has a field. Most of them are not capable of reaching their fields because you of settlements and so on.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Where is the settlement?
HANADI BADER: We can go on the roof and I’ll show you the settlement. It's surrounded the village. They captured the fields near the settlement, and they made it difficult for people to go to their fields. Another thing, they cut or burn our trees. Yeah, they cut our trees. Today, Dad went to the field to pick some olives, but he cannot reach his land anymore. They are threatening people. You can see from our roof the settlements around the village and you can imagine.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, what is the history of the settlement? How did it happen?
HANADI BADER: There were six at first. But they keep growing. They attack people in their homes.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Why?
HANADI BADER: Because they wanted to force them to leave the place.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, how does the settlement that's around your village, how do they have water?
HANADI BADER: You're not, every place in Palestine has its unique a story with settlements. For example, in Beitillu, they stopped us from reaching certain springs, denied us from reaching our water resources there. But at least we have the network. In some places, there is no network. So, in some places, all the water goes to the settlers and keeps the indigenous population without water. The personal water daily intake for the settlers is a more than 350 liters per day. And for a Palestinian, not more than 70. And you can imagine. So, the large amount of water, it goes to them. And we don't have our minimum water inside the city settlements, while they have swimming pools. They wash their car with more than thousand liters at a time. At the same time, in the Indian villages, there is no water the whole week. Just one day per week, they have water in their network, and they cannot even drink. You can’t compare the suffering here to the water welfare there, you know? But if there was an equity with water sharing, all will drink and have their activities- agriculture, cleaning, whatever you want- in a very, equitable manner.
JARED BLUMENFELD: So, in terms of daily things, washing, cooking you know, we do lots of things with water that aren't just drinking it, tell us kind of what it feels like.
HANADI BADER: We don't take a long-term shower because we don't have water. You know, the difference is between what you want and what you have. I will not take a long-term shower because of others, but I have the choice. You know, we don't have the choice as Palestinian communities, we don't have it because we don't have enough water.
JARED BLUMENFELD: How do you think about it like, we can only use this much for cooking next week? The water's coming on a Thursday. I mean, how do you think about it in your daily life?
HANADI BADER: It’s a mom issue. A task. For example, you can take a shower on this day. We can reuse the water from the washing machine for agricultural aspects or for the bathroom or something like that. We can sometimes use disposable things. So, we will keep a small amount of water to wash dishes and so on, and for drinking water, we buy a potable water, which costs of course, you know.
JARED BLUMENFELD: You have to spend money on buying drinking water because not because of the quality, just the quantity.
HANADI BADER: The quality is very good, but the quantity is not enough. So, you have to get more water.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Is it likely that there will be a solution? Is it likely that there will be conflict or how do you see this playing out?
HANADI BADER: There will be a very big conflict. I think it will be a regional conflict. There are very, very, big issues according to transboundary water here in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and so on. A very big conflict regarding water, but of course, there will be a solution, but how much it will be, I don't know. Maybe it will take 10, 20, 30 years.
JARED BLUMENFELD: It was so cool to just be invited into her house. I really appreciated that.
DAVID KAHN: Yeah, they were very warm, and the father brought us some juice and then some tea with some mint. They were very welcoming.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Even now, I don't know that much about the settlements. You read about them. You hear about them. There's lots of different perspectives. We're not going to kind of be able to untangle that issue. But I was shocked looking from the top of her hillside village that basically she was encircled by settlements.
DAVID KAHN: Yeah, it's bizarre. I don't understand why you would want to live in a settlement in the middle of the West Bank surrounded by a perimeter of barbed wire. Like it doesn't even seem like they're coexisting. It seems very disruptive to having a good neighbor and being able to just appreciate life.
JARED BLUMENFELD: There's this sense of kind of collective responsibility towards Israel and towards the Palestinian issue. At the same time, when Israel is criticized or when we criticize Israel, like you and I are just having a frank conversation, people take it very defensively.
DAVID KAHN: I feel that also like I almost feel guilty thinking why are they doing this? Why don't they just get out of the settlements? But at the same time, I haven't lived here for 50 years. I don't know what they've all been going through, but it is very disturbing to me to watch it and witness it and wonder what everyone else is feeling. What's everyone else doing?
JARED BLUMENFELD: No matter what the circumstance is, there's no scenario where I can think of a political or other moral reason that people should be denied access to water.
DAVID KAHN: I agree. I mean I don't understand it. It's not really a political issue. When you hear somebody tell you that the settlements are using 60% of the water that's going to Palestine, your head just like pops. You're just like, are you kidding me? There are 5% of the population and they're getting 60% of the water. And then the amount of money they make, you know, $1,500 a year versus almost $30,000 a year.
JARED BLUMENFELD: It's just at a human level, it feels really painful to see.
So, for instance, when we were with Hanadi, they have springs that they can get water from, but the checkpoints prevent them from going to the springs.
DAVID KAHN: And the fact that some people get water once a week for a few hours a day and then they have to store that water on top of their house in those the black towers, I just don't get it. It doesn't make sense.
JARED BLUMENFELD: Thanks to Faisal, our amazing driver, Dr. Abdelrahman Tamimi and to Hanadi Bader and her entire family for being such gracious hosts in Ramallah. I've attached links to both Dr. Abdelrahman Tamimi and to Hanadi Bader on the page for this week's episode at PodshipEarth.com/Ramallah. There was a deep sense of isolation in the West Bank and I know that you reaching out to these two amazing individuals would be most welcome. I'm so glad that David and I got to visit Ramallah where we are treated with warmth and respect and never felt anything but completely safe. Many of us feel shame and frustration when we see bottles and cans being thrown into the trash instead of being recycled or when we forget our metal water bottles at home and have to buy a single use plastic water bottle or when we see images of climate change on the TV, but don't know what to do. Next week Podship Earth explores the issue of green guilt. Thank you so much for being part of the Podship Earth journey. From the entire Podship Earth crew, sound engineer Rob Speight, producer Nancy Ferranti, executive producer David Kahn and me, Jared Blumenfeld, have a great week.