What We Have Accomplished
The Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine (formerly the Boston Alliance for Water Justice) was formed in the fall of 2013 in response to the launching of the “Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership” based at the Mass Clean Energy Center (MassCEC).
That “water and clean energy track” collaboration between Israel and Massachusetts began after then-governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick led a delegation to Israel. The group met with Booky Oren, the former head of Israel’s state-owned national water company Mekorot that exploits Palestinian water resources. According to the Boston Globe (November 17, 2013), Oren was “focused on one problem: launching Israel’s water technology industry onto the global stage. Massachusetts, he believes, can provide the platform.”
Our immediate goal was to prevent Massachusetts from providing that platform.
Activities to Date
Public education and coalition building
To connect the struggle in Palestine to wherever access to clean water is denied, we helped plan a Grassroots International forum at the Chelsea Collaborative, “Politics of Water: From Palestine and Israel to Chelsea and Beyond” (April 3, 2014). We forged links internationally and domestically, including with organizers in Flint, Michigan. We provided speakers to conferences, universities, and community groups, and held several public stand outs with our banner and flyers. We worked with 1for3.org on the Walk for Water to Support Palestinian Refugees (April 23, 2016).
We published a letter in the Boston Globe and several articles on Mondoweiss. One article included letters from children in West Bank refugee camps describing their difficult daily lives without adequate water. We directly engaged with Governor Patrick by reading parts of the letters to him during a radio call-in show and we have made dozens of phone calls to the Governor’s office.
Outreach to other elected and appointed officials
We lobbied key members of the Patrick Administration and held four meetings with Mass CEC officials who were overseeing the Water Partnership and planning delegations to Israel. We provided detailed material about Israel’s discriminatory water practices. On World Water Day 2015, we demonstrated outside the Mass CEC office and spoke with its staff. Mass CEC officials received hundreds of post cards and telephone calls denouncing the Water Partnership.
A partial victory
In October 2015 the Water Partnership with Israel was placed “on hold” for the foreseeable future.
Stepping up our activism
This welcome news was tempered by the possibility that the Partnership could be revived: late in 2015 the Jewish Community Relations Council organized a junket to Israel for a quarter of the Massachusetts Senate. Some of the Senators expressed an interest in knowing more about Israel’s water technology and all appeared indifferent to the way the trip could be seen as an endorsement of Israel’s increasingly draconian violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.
After a press conference at the State House (November 23, 2015), we presented the Senators with “Ten Reasons” not to go on the JCRCR trip along with a petition signed by 1,200 Massachusetts residents. We have been holding follow-up meetings with the Senators and their staff since they returned.
In March 2016 we started to engage with all state legislators by helping organize a Massachusetts Freedom to Boycott Coalition to block passage of “anti-BDS” legislation. Sixty-one Massachusetts organizations signed an Open Letter that was hand-delivered to each legislative office. We are maintaining our vigilance against this repressive legislation.