From Africa to China, How Israel Helps Quench the Developing World's Thirst

The untold story of Israeli hydrodiplomacy, from the 1950s until now.

September 9, 2015 | Seth M. Siegel
About the author: Seth M. Siegel, an entrepreneur, writer, and lawyer in New York, is the chief sustainability officer of the Israeli micro-irrigation company, N-Drip.

A worker at the Eshkol Water Filtration Plant in Northern Israel. Moshe Shai/FLASH90.

In November 1898, Theodor Herzl arranged a meeting with the German emperor, Wilhelm II, to obtain help in creating a Jewish state in the land of Israel. In their conversation, the Kaiser praised the work of the Zionist pioneers, telling Herzl that, above all else, “water and shade trees” would restore the land to its ancient glory. Four years later, Herzl had a lead character in his political tract-cum-novel Altneuland (“Old-New Land”) say of Jewish settlement in Palestine: “This country needs nothing but water and shade to have a great future.” Another character predicts that the water engineers of the Jewish homeland will be its heroes.

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