Friday, 3 June 2011

Save the Musht – And the Land of Palestine

REMEMBER: God Almighty says in the Holy Quran: Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by (reason of) what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of (the consequence of) what they have done that perhaps they will return (to righteousness). (Firman Allah Taala: Telah timbul berbagai kerosakan dan bala bencana di darat dan di laut dengan sebab apa yang telah dilakukan oleh tangan manusia; (timbulnya yang demikian) kerana Allah hendak merasakan mereka sebahagian dari balasan perbuatan-perbuatan buruk yang mereka telah lakukan, supaya mereka kembali (insaf dan bertaubat). (Quran 30:41)

 Save the Musht – And the Land of Palestine

A rather funny looking fish swims in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias), oblivious of its predicament. Since the creation of the State of Israel, the numbers of this species have been dropping. The Musht, or more scientifically Talapia galilea, is a native fish of the Sea of Galilee. It is commonly known as Christ’s fish or Saint Peter’s fish. The Musht is widely associated with the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes in the Bible. What is not widely known is that the Musht could be considered an endangered species.

However, this article is not a simple appeal to save the Musht. There are issues of such importance involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict that they make the possible extinction of a single species appear almost inconsequential. The irony of the situation is that printing up “Save the Musht” T-shirts and launching a campaign for the fish may do more to raise awareness about Middle East issues than years of lectures and appealing for human rights.

Many people argue that environmental issues should not be a priority in the Arab/Israeli conflict, given the level of violence and loss of human life. What is not understood is that in reality political, social, economic and environmental issues cannot be compartmentalized. Mistreating the environment and mistreating people are often one and the same action.

The environmental problems at the heart of the Palestinian/Israeli struggle are rarely exposed. Most people do not even know that Palestinian representatives (although only United Nations Observers) were present and active at the Earth Summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro last summer.

How a people administer their human and natural resources depends upon their cultural attitudes, their image of themselves and the land. Israeli and Palestinian images differ radically. They project conflicting world views, and this makes the struggle more intense and irreconcilable. A war of paradigms results, fought on the field of poetry, writings and myths. Grasping these paradigms provides a key to understanding the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

A fisherman readies to cast his net into an area near Taghba where warm water springs flow into the Sea of Galilee. For a photo of the net in the air click here. Commercial fishermen use large draw nets.

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw 2 brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. (Matthew 4:18 ESV)

We wrote about the water level of the lake with photos to illustrate the low level here.

A day in Galilee (April 3, 2008)

Is the way I began the day by viewing the sunrise over the Sea of Galilee from my hotel window at Tiberias. This is always a beautiful view. It brings to mind many of the teaching of Jesus in the Galilee area. Jesus met his disciples on the shores of Galilee after His resurrection. John 21:12 records that Jesus prepared breakfast for the disciples.

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee. Photo made from Tiberias by Ferrell Jenkins. April 3, 2008.

We always include a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee as part of ou tour. One of the men on our boat showed how nets were cast in bible times. This was in the area where Jesus appeared to the disciples. Here is the account in the Gospel of John:

But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. (John 21:4-6).

Fisherman casting a net on the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We visited Capernaum, Tabgha, the Mount of Beatitudes, and Bethsaida. We drove along the eastern side of th Sea of Galilee and saw the area where the swine ran down the steep cliff into the sea.(Matthew 8:32). We stopped at En Gev and made a photo of the tell of Hippos. We made a few photos at the new excavations at Tiberias. In December excavations were renewed at Magdala. We stopped at the site, but the entire area is locked and it was practically impossible to make any decent photos of the site due to the fencing around the site. Perhaps in future years the site will be open to the public. Magdala was the home of Mary Magdalene.

Everyone in the group seems to be having a good time learning more about the land of Jesus.

Two of our ladies are publishing blogs that are very informative and are filled with human interest. We learned that the 3rd grade class at Athens Bible School is following our tour as one of their projects. There are four women on our tour who are grandmothers of children in the class. Here are the links to the other blogs.

In the Galilee (2009)

We spent 2 days at Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee at a lovely smaller hotel called Ron Beach Hotel. I had stayed there once before and wanted to return. It is family owned and operated. The staff is friendly and the meals are good. The hotel is situated on the north side of Tiberias as you head toward Magdala and Tabgha.

Thursday morning heavy clouds covered the Sea of Galilee. Only occasionally the sun broke through to provide a glimmer across the water. We went to a few places where we could make photos on the shore of Galilee. We visited the Church of the Primacy. This is the traditional site where Jesus met with the disciples after the resurrection. The events are recorded in John 21. The disciples had fished during the night and caught nothing. At day break Jesus invited them to “Come and have breakfast.”

We also visited Hazor and Kedesh. In the late afternoon we went to Mount Arbel for a magnificent view of the northern portion of the Sea of Galilee. We were a little late. The photo you see below was made in the dark with a long exposure and the use of a tripod. The land below is known in the New Testament as the Land of Gennesaret.

And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. (Matthew 14:34)

When we mentioned rain to the locals, they spoke of how badly they needed rain. There was evidence of rain in several of the places we visited. Due to drought conditions the Sea of Galilee is extremely low. This sea level indicator at Tiberias shows the level to be 214.31 meters below sea level. That is 703.12 feet.

The Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection has determined if the Sea of Galilee drops below 214.87 meters [704.95 feet] below sea level “the pumps in the lake can no longer operate.”

Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), which divides the upper and lower portions of the Jordan River System, is the only natural freshwater lake in Israel. It has traditionally provided about a third of the country's domestic, agricultural and industrial water requirements.

Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)

Kinneret catchment basin: 2,730 square kilometers

Surface area of the lake: 165 square kilometers

Mean depth: 25 meters

Maximum depth: 44 meters

Maximal volume: 4.3 billion cubic meters

Length of coastlines: 55 kilometers

Length from north to south: 21 km

Length from west to east: 12 km

Storage volume: 710 million cubic meters

Upper red line: -213 meters below sea level

Lower red line: -208.9 meters below sea level

Black line: -214.87

Lake Kinneret is the lowest freshwater lake in the world. The total average annual inflow of water into Lake Kinneret from its catchment basin amounts to a billion cubic meters, of which some 250 MCM serve consumers in the region, about 450 MCM are withdrawn from the lake to serve consumers throughout the country by means of the National Water Carriet and about 300 MCM are lost by evaporation.

Water levels in the lake, fluctuating in accordance with its use in the national water system and the amount of precipitation and inflow, have varied between 213 and 208.9 meters below sea level for several decades. However, due to the continuous drop in water levels since 1996, the Water Commissioner has lowered the minimum "red line" for limited periods of time to minus 214 meters in 2000, minus 215.5 meters in 2001 and minus 214.87 meters, which was defined as the black line in 2008. The risks associated with reduced water levels are formidable: ecosystem instability and deterioration of water quality, damage to nature and landscape assets, receding shorelines and adverse impacts on tourism and recreation. When the black line is reached, the pumps in the lake can no longer operate.

According to the Water Authority, Lake Kinneret lost 5.13 meters since the spring of 2004, equivalent to some 850 million cubic meters of water.

In light of the Kinneret's dropping water level, the Israel Water Authority launched a major water conservation campaign in 2008, titled "Going from Red to Black."  The campaign relates to the constantly declining level of the Kinneret's water level, which dropped below the "red line" in the summer of 2008.

The risks associated with reduced water levels are formidable: ecosystem instability and deterioration of water quality, damage to nature and landscape assets, receding shorelines and adverse impacts on tourism and recreation. When the black line is reached, the pumps in the lake can no longer operate.

According to the Water Authority, Lake Kinneret lost 5.13 meters [16.83 feet] since the spring of 2004, equivalent to some 850 million cubic meters of water.

Everywhere around the lake one can see evidence that the water level is low.

Water once covered the area where you see grass. You may know that there are brackish springs at Taghba. This water is channeled around the sea to the Jordan River, so the sea remains fresh water. The concrete channel may be seen in the left of the picture.

Perhaps tomorrow I will have time to tell you about the little storm we saw on the sea this morning.
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