Leaders of three faiths came together recently to discuss the need to take action to clean up the Jordan River.
The conference, held in Jordan and organized by EcoPeace –Friends of the Earth Middle East, explored the importance of the river in their faith traditions as well as recent environmental degradation that has brought the once deep-flowing river to a trickle.
“There was great significance in the convening together, in one location, on the shores of the Dead Sea near the Jordan River,” Gidon Bromberg, Israel director for Friends of the Earth Middle East, said. “There’s a statement of solidarity around the Jordan River. That’s unique.”
Currently, 96 percent of the river’s fresh water is diverted for domestic, agricultural and industrial use, drastically reducing the water flow. Sewage runoff and pollution have also damaged the water’s ecology and turned the once-clear river into a dumping ground for contaminants and waste.
During the conference, the members of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths discussed their shared concern for the waters and signed a treaty urging the governments that control the trans-national river to work together to clean up the Jordan.
“The river runs through the heart of our spiritual traditions: Some of the founding stories of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are set along its banks, and the valley contains sites sacred to half of humanity,” the covenant reads. “By any measure, this landscape must be counted as part of the heritage of humankind.”
Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, president and founder of the Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values in The Hague, emphasized the historic importance of the occasion and the treaty.
“This is the first time in history that we are speaking in one voice towards the River Jordan,” he pointed out. “A quiet revolution is taking place.”