Bluewashing around the USA

This article, written by Nancy Murray of the Alliance, summarizes some of the efforts to promote Israel's "water solutions" in various states. While the list isn't complete, it does show how water technology is being used to demonstrate that Israel is a force for good in the world. Is your state on this list?


The Israeli national water company Mekorot is the flagship of Israel’s Apartheid Water practices.  Wherever it has sought international contracts it has been targeted by (sometimes successful) Stop Mekorot campaigns, including in Argentina, Italy, Greece, Portugal, India, Brazil and the Netherlands.

While Mekorot has a presence in the USA (see Delaware and Ohio below), it is not the sole face of Israel’s water technologies. Instead, over the past few years, some of Israel’s 300 or so water tech ‘start up’ companies have been ratcheting up efforts to push into US markets, often with the backing of the Israeli government. Governor-led trade missions to Israel have resulted in agreements to form water partnerships and many joint water and other high tech projects have received funding from the Israel-US Bi-national Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.  

As part of the effort to change Israel’s image while cashing in on its ‘water expertise,’ in 2016 the Jewish National Fund (JNF) hosted a series of water summits during 2016 in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Boca Raton, Phoenix, San Diego and Washington DC. The keynotes were given by Bluewasher-in-Chief Seth Siegel, author of Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World. (Siegel denies that Israel bears any responsibility for the ongoing problems of water scarcity in Palestine.) See Nancy Murray’s detailed rebuttal to Siegel.

Below is a summary of some of the efforts underway to promote Israel’s ‘water solutions’ in various states.  The list is not comprehensive, but is suggestive of how water technology is being enlisted to demonstrate that Israel is a force for good in the world.  

• October 2015 Israel water experts headlined a conference in Tempe.  • Gov. Doug Ducey attended the WATEC (Water Technology and Environmental Control) conference in Tel Aviv and announced he was excited about a water partnership with Israel.  Israel’s WATEC conferences should not be confused with Mekorot’s WaTech – its Water Technologies Accelerator, which helped develop many of the new start-ups.   

• June 2016 Israel-California water conferences held in Marina del Rey and San Diego with over 20 Israeli water companies making presentations. • March 2016 widely publicized California-Israel Water Summit organized by the JNF. • December 2015 Israel’s IDE Technologies opened the $1 billion Carlsbad Poseidon desalination plant north of San Diego, the largest in the Western hemisphere. It took 8 years to build. • October 2015 the Israel-California Green Tech Partnership is formed.  • 2014 Gov. Brown and Netanyahu sign MOU that is basis of water collaboration. According to Jeffrey Levine, national president of the JNF,  “California has entered into an arrangement with Israel to accelerate Israel’s engagement in California’s water sector.  I’m sure other states will follow. Israel has so much to teach the world about how to prepare for a drier, more water-limited future.”

• October 2015 Israel and Colorado sign deal to collaborate on water and other R & D projects. • March 2015 Colorado-Israel water summit, organized by the JNF, which Gov. John Hickenlooper calls a ‘big deal.’ 

• July 2014 Delaware company ANP Technologies and Mekorot win BIRD grant ($340,000) to develop automatic monitoring for pesticides in water. Their collaboration is a result of a 2013 Governor-led trade mission.

• September 2015 US-Israel Water Technologies roundtable in Miami, hosted by the Israeli Consul General, features several Israeli firms including IDE Technologies. Florida officials then travel to Israel for the WATEC conference in October.  • 2013 Israeli company Krausz Industries opens new plant in Ocala designed to service water infrastructures across the USA.

• March 2013 University of Chicago’s Institute of Molecular Engineering and Ben Gurion University in the Negev agree to collaborate on the issue of water scarcity. • June 2013 Gov. Rahm Emanuel travels to Israel to announce the collaboration.  He says he wants to transform Chicago into a water innovation hub and Israel is the ideal partner.  

• 2014/2015 Israeli Consulate and Israeli government organize speaker series entitled “Israel Experts Present International Water Management Seminars at Kansas University and Kansas State.” 

• December 2013 the Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine (then called the Boston Coalition for Water Justice) is created to campaign against the ‘innovative water partnership’ formed by Massachusetts and Israel as a result of a Governor-led mission to Israel and meeting with former Mekorot head Booky Oren. • October 2015 officials inform the Alliance that the partnership had been placed ‘on hold’ for the foreseeable future.

• 2009 Israeli company Miya (with Booky Oren serving as spokesman) launches pilot project to replace parts of aging water infrastructure in Detroit and Farmington Hills.  • November 2008 Governor-led mission to Israel leads to first joint agreement of water cooperation between any state and Israel.  

• January 2016 at Missoula World Trade Center the Israeli Consul General for Pacific Northwest touts BIRD grants and makes case for partnerships, including on water issues.  

• July 2014 symposium ‘Water Security and Peace: Avenues for Cooperation’ at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. It includes Israeli speakers who say water can be a ‘win-win’ issue and lead to peace in the region.

• August 2016 contract signed between Israeli firm WellToDo and Southern Nevada Water Authority to remove nitrates from water. The Nevada Center of Excellence wants southern Nevada to be a ‘water technology hub’ with Israel’s help. • November 2015 partnership formed between Nevada and Israel.  

New Mexico
• August 2015 first New Mexico-Israel forum, with focus on water.  • February 2016 meeting of Israeli water experts and New Mexico officials in Albuquerque.
New York
• Hub of bluewashing media, publicizing numerous talks by Seth Siegel on Israel’s innovative and successful responses to water scarcity – including an oversized laudatory front page piece by Isabel Kershner in the New York Times (May 30, 2015).

• February 2016 Dayton Region–Israel Trade Alliance brings Israeli company Woosh (which provides pay-for-use water stations) to Sinclair Community College as part of a pilot project. Woosh gets a $100,000 grant from Israel’s Ministry of Economy and $50,000 from the city and county of Sinclair to pilot its product. • March 2015 Akron Municipality partners with a consortium of Israeli private and public companies – including Wah Tech-Mekorot – in the Advanced Wastewater Treatment Project.  Akron is providing ‘in kind’ services and facilities for Israeli companies and claims the city “will be a pipeline for Israeli companies entering the US market.”

Rhode Island
• January 2016 water is among the issues being explored by trade mission to Israel.

South Carolina
• October 2013 signs MOU for joint R & D project with Israel and makes deal with Israeli company to develop a leak cure system for urban water pipes.  

• August 2015 report that Israeli desalination company IDE Technologies is considering a project in Texas.  • 2013 Governor Rick Perry attends WATEC conference in Tel Aviv.  

• July 2016 Gov. Terry McAuliffe makes his first trip to Israel as part of trade mission and announces Israeli partnership to build a new clean tech wastewater treatment facility.

West Virginia
• March 2014 Israeli water officials visit Charleston to consult with officials there about the chemical spill contaminating the Elk River.  Senator Joe Manchin declares “there is not a better friend to have when you have a water challenge than…the Israeli Water Authority.”

• August 2014 Israel-Milwaukee Water Technology and Innovation forum is hosted by the Israeli Consul General to the Midwest.

Washington DC
• June 2016 JNF water summit attended by 5,000. • March 2016 on World Water Day the White House announces $5 billion in private money to develop new water technologies and highlights the work of the Israel-California Green Tech Partnership.

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