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Israel: Doing More with Less

My story of how I became interested in the environment is an interesting one to say the least. Last summer, I had the pleasure of going on birthright (usually this is the point where I explain what birthright is, but considering the site is called “jewcology” I’m going to skip that part.) As a group, we visited a kibbutz located on the mountain known as Misgav Am.For those that don’t know, Misgav Am is a mountain located in the Upper Galilee on the border of Lebanon.At Misgav Am, one of the founders sat us all in a small room all facing a large, panoramic window as he spoke to us. The view was truly breathtaking. From this room it seemed as if you could see all of Israel. You saw the mountains to the north, Lebanon, and even the reflection of the Mediterranean Sea on the mountains. The founder told us his long, probably rehearsed, speech about his strong Zionism and how he survived the 2006 Lebanon war. After his speech, he mentioned something that truly changed the way that I viewed this world. He said, Look out the window and notice that everything you see that is green is Israel, and everything that isn’t green, isn’t Israel. This sentence alone made me wonder about so many things; it even made me change my major (which many of you know, for a 19 year old student that’s a huge deal). I thought to myself, what is Israel doing that the rest of the world can’t? Why are they able to have such a sustainable way of life while the majority of the world is suffering? This man is what started my research into the Israeli sustainability superpower and what helped me become so interested in the subject.

After extensively researching what makes Israel a sustainability superpower I learned that their biggest success involved water and agriculture. Not only does Israel treat 80% of its water to desalination, but they also invented their own irrigation system. Israel gets the majority of its water from the Sea of Galilee and transports this water through 35 separate desalination plants across the country to help feed the population.

As I mentioned before, Israel invented their own irrigation system that is now being used worldwide. Daniel Hillel, an Israeli water and soil specialist, developed one of the most creative innovations world wide, micro-irrigation.

Micro-irrigation, or drip irrigation, applies water in small, continuous amounts directly to the roots of plants. Drip irrigation uses 30%-50% less water than any other irrigation methods, especially sprinkling. Daniel Hillels invention cut out the wasting of water from surface runoff, evaporation, and weeds. Since Israel is located in the middle of the desert, transportation of water without wasting it is a huge success.

When researching Israel as an “environmental hero,” information about drip irrigation seemed to be the most prominent. It’s no secret that Israel is located in a desert, and its ability to prosper is incredible. Because of this (as well as many other reasons) I am proud to be an environmental Jew.

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