BBC World Service radio has been running a series called ‘Elements‘ which advertises itself as taking “[a] close look at chemical elements, the basic building blocks of the universe. Where do we get them, what do we use them for and how do they fit into our economy?”
The latest episode of that programme – broadcast on April 27th on ‘Business Daily’ – dealt with hydrogen as water and was described its synopsis as follows:
“In his second gulp of H2O, presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from climatologist Raymond Pierrehumbert about how global warming is causing drastic but often unpredictable disruption to our natural supplies of freshwater.
Yet as Israel enters its third year of dought [sic], few of the country’s citizens are aware of any water shortages. The BBC’s Shira Gemer reports on the technological breakthroughs that have made this possible – from the gigantic Sorek desalination plant, to the drip irrigation pioneered by Netafim in the Negev desert.
We also hear from desalination expert Raphael Semiat of Technion University how much the rest of the world can emulate Israel’s success.”
The part of the programme concerning Israel (from 12:50 here) is both interesting and informative. One must therefore wonder all the more why presenter Justin Rowlatt found it appropriate to introduce the item using facile politicized messaging.
“…and it is to Israel that we turn our attention now. Water is of course an extremely contentious issue in Israel’s neighbourhood. Israel and Palestine are in deadlock over water sharing across the green line. Meanwhile, Jewish settlements are accused of hogging water supplies on the West Bank and the River Jordan itself is shrivelling as Israel and its Arab neighbours collectively draw too much from it.”
The BBC’s long-standing and repeated politicization of the topic of water means that we have addressed that issue many times on these pages. Agreements regarding water form part and parcel of the Oslo Accords – but apparently Rowlatt has never heard of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee and does not know that Israel actually supplies the PA with more water than stipulated in the agreements. Rowlatt’s populistic claim that “Jewish settlements” are “hogging water supplies on the West Bank” is obviously not based on an understanding of the fact that 97% of the Palestinian residents of that area get their water supplies from the Palestinian Water Authority and his jaundiced portrayal of the Jordan River is likewise devoid of context.
What a pity it is for BBC World Service audiences that even a science programme is allowed to become a platform for opportunistic uninformed Israel-bashing.