Symposium examines Middle East water security

The future of peace in the Middle East and the world depends on access to water and water management. While water security is a complex issue, there are numerous examples of teamwork and work toward fair solutions.

A May 28-29 gathering at UNL aims to examine those issues and lend insight into how water security will affect global political and cultural discourse in the future.

Scholars from around the world will present research at the symposium, “Water Security and Peace: Avenues for Cooperation,” at UNL’s Kauffman Center, 630 N. 14th St. The scholars bring various specialties in water safety, water rights, conflict resolution and environmental studies.

The forum is free and open to the public. Presentations begin at 9:30 a.m. May 28 with Jerome Delli Priscoli of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who will present “Water and Public Diplomacy: Reflections on Personal Cases.” As one of the original members of a U.S. delegation to the Middle East peace talks on water, Priscoli has been directly involved in water policy development.

Jean Cahan, director of UNL’s Norman and Bernice Harris Center for Judaic Studies, worked with Patrice McMahon, former director of global studies, and Roberto Lenton, director of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute, to organize the event.

“Among all of the issues facing the Middle East, water scarcity and the need for water security are very important,” Cahan said. “Our aim is to raise awareness that water insecurity can exacerbate political and cultural tensions and it is important that not only natural scientists, but scholars from other fields in the humanities and social sciences participate in studying this issue.”

The symposium is being held in conjunction with a global studies and Judaic studies special topics course. Event sponsors include the Center for Judaic Studies, the Global Studies program and the Daugherty Water for Food Institute.

The sessions are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 28 and 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. May 29. Other scholars presenting include:

  • Hussein Amery, Colorado School of Mines, “The Geopolitics of Water Imports in the Gulf States.”

  • Itay Fishhendler, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Who is Securitizing Environmental Discourse?”

  • Jenny Kehl, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, “Water Security in Transboundary River Systems: Governance for Environmental and Economic Sustainablility.”

  • David Lehrer, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, “The Besor River: A Transboundary Case-Study in Environmental Conflict and Cooperation.”

  • Lawrence Susskind, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “The Political and Cultural Dimensions of Water Diplomacy.”

  • Alon Tal, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev-Sde Boqer, “Water and Conflict in the Middle East: Can Adaptive Management and Technology Be Game Changers?”

  • Aaron Wolf, Oregon State University, “Water Conflict, Cooperation and Kabbalah.”

For more information about the course and the symposium, go to http://judaic.unl.edu/.

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