November 12, 2013 – Representatives of 3 Religions Sign on a Jordan River Covenant: ‘Rehabilitate the Jordan River’

Representatives of 3 Religions Sign on a Jordan River Covenant:
‘Rehabilitate the Jordan River’

November 12, 2013
Dead Sea, Jordan

During a region wide conference held by EcoPeace Middle East on the Northern shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan yesterday, senior clerics and representatives from the 3 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. Moreover, sewage, agricultural runoff and highly saline streams are allowed to flow into the Jordan, polluting its waters and causing a drop of 50% in the river’s biodiversity.

According to a recent economic report published by EcoPeace, the touristic potential of the Lower Jordan, if rehabilitated, could bring significant increased religious tourism to the region. Moreover, religious communities and leaders can play critical roles calling upon regional decision makers to act to ensure that their holy sites are cared for and respected.

By engaging Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities in Jordan, Palestine and Israel as well as internationally, through its widespread faith based advocacy campaign, EcoPeace aims to leverage support from faith based communities toward the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.

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.

From the conference:
Rabbi David Rosen, Honorary Advisor on Interfaith Relations to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel: “If we claim to love the land then surely we shouldn’t treat it in a manner that leads to its devastation. We have an obligation to work together for the cause of rehabilitating the River Jordan.”

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.”

Dr. Sabri, Mofti of Al Quds and the Holy Land: “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.”

Marse Malki Murad, Deputy of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch: “the Jordan River is important due to its Holiness and environmental significance. Due to the spiritual significance we, Christians, Muslims and Jews, must cooperate together. We call on the regional authorities from Jordan, Israel and Palestine to work together.”

From the Covenant: “We have a different vision of this valley: a vision in which a clean, living river flows from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea; in which the valley’s plants and animals are afforded the water they need to flourish; in which the springs flow as they have for millennia; and in which the water extracted for human use is divided equitably between the nations that share the valley and the people who live here. Realizing this vision will not be easy. But difficulty cannot be an excuse for inaction. We therefore call upon the governments of the countries that share this watershed to make a serious commitment of resources and political capital to the rehabilitation of the Jordan River….”

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace Middle East, said that “this regional gathering is an important show of support for the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan. Huge benefits would be felt if the Lower Jordan was clean and better accessible. It would serve all the people of the area, Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Christians, Muslims and Jews from around the world. All it takes is a little vision and effective cooperation between our governments.”

For more information:
Elizabeth Yaari – Israeli Coordinator, Jordan River Rehabilitation project: +972-52-6633488
Yana Abu Taleb – Jordanian Coordinator, Jordan River Rehabilitation project: +962-79-8100409
Samiramis Kutlo – Palestinian, Jordan River Rehabilitation project: +972-52-674-3786