Parting with the Truth – response to National Geographic

I have fond memories of National Geographic magazine. As a child I would wait with growing anticipation to the arrival of the beige envelope containing the yellow magazine. I love to lose myself in the pages of wonderful stories and amazing photos. It is because I hold NG to be of superb quality that I was so shocked by an article in last months addition called Parting of the Waters. The inaccuracies and downright lies in the article are many (of which I will note a few) but even more disturbing are the Goebbels-like choice of pictures in the adjoining photo-gallery. A truly astonishing editorial choice of  NG.

Lets start.

Upstream, at the Sea of Galilee, the river’s fresh waters are diverted via Israel’s National Water Carrier to the cities and farms of Israel, while dams built by Jordan and Syria claim a share of the river’s tributaries, mostly for agriculture. So today the lower Jordan is practically devoid of clean water, bearing instead a toxic brew of saline water and liquid waste that ranges from raw sewage to agricultural runoff, fed into the river’s vein like some murky infusion of tainted blood.

Israel takes all the water from the Jordan river leaving Jordan and Syria with scraps. Right? Wrong. (But what a great literary description!) Israel’s national Water Carrier draws water from the Sea of Galilee itself (not from the river) from within Israel’s pre-1967 borders at the Sapir site. It was completed in 1964 so you can’t really blame the occupation on this one. It uses on average 500 million cubic meters of water per year. Jordan draws the water from the Yarmouk – 470 million cubic meters, the second largest river in the region and the River Jordan’s 4th tributary. In addition to other water transfers Jordan also receives 50 million cubic meters of water annually from Israel from the sea of Galille as part of the peace treaty signed in 1994. DO these numbers paint a different picture? A view of the Jordanian side of the Jordan river valley will disclose a flourishing bread-basket 100 kilometers long and 3 kilometers wide, equipped with the latest agricultural technologies, irrigation systems (the technology transferred from Israel to Jordan, beginning in the 1970’s) and cooperation between neighboring countries (including Israeli farmers tending to their orchards on Jordanian sovereign territory, but why report the good news).


One day last April, Bromberg led me to the natural spring that provides water to Auja, a Palestinian village of 4,500 people that climbs the barren hills a few miles west of the Jordan River near Jericho. Fed by winter rains, the spring was flowing from a small, boulder-strewn oasis, …. “Auja is totally dependent on this water for agriculture,” Bromberg said. “As soon as this spring dries up, there’ll be no more water for farming.” … As Bromberg and I followed the Auja spring east, we passed a complex of pumps and pipes behind a barbed-wire fence—a Mekorot well, drilled 2,000 feet deep to tap the aquifer. “Blue and white pipes,” Bromberg said. “This is what water theft looks like in this part of the world.”

This is a neat trick. Half truths and a stretch, a twist and a big lie. To drive the message home – a picture of the dried up sun-burnt village, a deserted greenhouse and a line about the swimming pools at the Jewish settlements. Nice work NG.

Indeed, Auja does dry up every summer. Here’s why:

A 2000 foot deep well doesn’t affect top-water. But this does: The blue and white sign reads: Jerusalem Water Undertaking, Ramallah and Al-Bireh District. Well no. 3/ Ein Samia. The water of Ein Samia are captured and transferred to… Ramallah.

Ein Smia is the source of the Auja stream that feeds the village Auja. If you guessed that the well is Palestinian – you guessed right.

The Olso accords allowed Israel and the Palestinian Authority to drill water wells based on an agreed formula (yes, the average Israeli uses much more water than the average Palestinian as a function of standard of living). When the Oslo process collapsed (when the Arafat decided its better to blow up Israeli school buses, restaurants, coffee shops and families having Passover dinner than sharing water with Israel) the water regime remained as did the temporary administrative division of the West Bank but the cooperation ceased. In short – it’s the Palestinians who are responsible for drying Auja.

Oh, right next to the well is a beautiful flourishing greenhouse that grow spices and olive trees. It’s a successful Palestinian enterprise, but why spoil the image of desolation and poverty. Surrounding the spring are findings of a Roman-Byzantine city with dams, aqueducts and flour mills. Very very cool. It is also one of the suggested locations of Joshua’s battle at the Ai when the Israelites entered Canaan. For future reference NG, you can find it at these coordinates: 23166/654998.

Moving on.

To meet these costs [buying water from the horrible, thieving Israeli water company] he is selling off his livestock, and his sons have taken jobs at an Israeli settlement, tending the tomatoes, melons, and other crops irrigated from the aquifer that is off-limits to Palestinian farmers.

More hogwash. 1) We already determined above that the reason Auja is drying up is because of Palestinian water drilling, not Israeli. 2) The Israeli settlements grow mostly tomatoes, grapes, dates and spices (Melons actually grow further south). They use water captured from flash floods at the Tirza water reservoir (instead of flowing to the dead sea) and reclaimed water and advanced irrigation and growing technology to optimize the use of water. Israel leads the world in reclaiming sewage water for agriculture. 75% of water flushed down Israeli toilets, dishwashers and shower drains is recycled and used in agriculture. 3) The aquifer in NOT off limits to Palestinians. This is a bold lie. Indeed, Palestinians drill and use water from the aquifer routinely, yet it is not controlled or regulated.

The caption by the photo of an Israeli couple by the shores of the Sea of Galilee reads:

Israelis relax by the Sea of Galilee, which is fed by the Jordan River and supplies a third of Israel‘s fresh water. Since 1967 Israel has blocked Syria‘s access to the lake’s shoreline.

Cheap demagoguery. Would NG publish a photo of Georgians sitting by the black sea with the caption – Georgia has blocked Russia’s access to the sea’s shoreline sine 1992.

The sentence is in essence true. Left unchecked, the Syrians would undoubtedly approach the lake and pump its waters to a drying and thirsty Syria. Thing is, they have no business being there to begin with. I’d expect NG to know a little bit more about how the borders of the modern middle east were created. Fact is, the international border in not on or in the lake. The lake was never part of Syria and the international border runs up high on the cliff. Between 1948 and 1967 Syria encroached to the water line. It is why they demand to return to the June 4, 1967 lines and not the international border.

There is more. Much more. The article is filled with shoddy research and poor journalism. What bugs me the most is that there are real problems that need to be addressed. To claim that the Palestinians receive their fair share of water is untrue. They don’t. But publishing this kind of one-sided, ludicrous depiction of reality, once again absolving the Palestinian Authority from any and all responsibility is simply absurd. It does not promote peace or understanding, only animosity.

Shame on you National Geographic.

16 thoughts on “Parting with the Truth – response to National Geographic

  1. Remember this the next time you read a NG piece on “global warming”. (And you thought I was giving the electric car geeks a hard time just for the fun of it.)


  2. What do you know about what happened to the greenhouses in Gaza after Israel pulled out a few years ago. There are some who suggest that Israel shut off the water to them as a punitive measure to kill the crops and deny Gazans the use of them. Any source you might have would be helpful.

  3. I gave up on NG several years ago. They are, simply, lying bastards.

  4. Perfect timing; I just sent my old NG collection off to recycling…no regrets, now.

  5. It has been a gradual transformation that moved NG from being a fine news magazine to a politically correct social engineering experiment. Why should they be differnet from the rest of the MSM and “news”magazines?

  6. I stopped subscribing to NG about 10 years ago. If I want partisan politics, there are dozens of publications that I can go to; if I want science untainted by politics and political correctness, there are hundreds of first-class journals.
    NG, with its hateful bigoted politics melded into Global Warmist theology no longer serves any useful purpose. Pity.

  7. George Karounos May 23, 2010 — 9:40 pm

    I’m a 71 year old retired business executive with eclectic tastes in Science, History, Religion, Mythology, etc. and I too loved the National Geographic Magazine. alas, I had to cancel my subscription several years ago because it’s turned into a rag to support all the leftist propaganda currently ruining our country. I fear the same fate awaits it that has befallen that other rag, Newsweek, unless it can (doubtful) clean up its act.

  8. NG has steadily declined and I rarely buy it these days. And if I do, it’s because I have already done a quick scan for any stories on anthropogenic global warming affecting the mating habits of an Australian butterfly or some other such hysteria.

  9. NG promoting left-wing hysteria?

    I’m shocked I tell you. Shocked.

  10. Damn. Another magazine subscription to cancel.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  11. This is why I stopped my membership, their problem is the wealth of printed matter and DVDs that give a better balance from over the years

  12. Great analysis. Yes, National Geographic has become undeniably political in the past several years, like most of the print media. No wonder they are dying off.

  13. Those “dried-up” greenhouses look suspiciously like the greenhouses that Israel left the arabs in a peace agreement. The greenhouses were left in fully functional order and were promptly looted and destroyed by the arabs.

  14. After having been a subscriber for 25 years I finally dropped my subscription last year due to their constantly publishing misleading or outright false information. That magazine sure has gone down the tubes since Grosvenor retired.

  15. Thanks for the enlightning article!

  16. I’m a 71 year old retired business executive with eclectic tastes in Science, History, Religion, Mythology, etc. and I too loved the National Geographic Magazine. alas, I had to cancel my subscription several years ago because it’s turned into a rag to support all the leftist propaganda currently ruining our country. I fear the same fate awaits it that has befallen that other rag, Newsweek, unless it can (doubtful) clean up its act.

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