Photographer Paolo Pellegrin has won a Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, is a member of the prestigious Magnum photo agency and has covered wars, humanitarian issues and some of the best living performers for The New York Times. And his first assignment for National Geographic magazine is running in this month's special water-themed issue (which you can download in-full here). Seems like the only thing left for him to do is publish a book. Oh wait — he has six.
The story that Pellegrin photographed for National Geographic, "Parting The Waters," provides a new angle on conflicts that have long plagued Israel and its neighbors. The Jordan River, a life source for those living along its banks, has the capacity to be both a source of contention and an opportunity for compromise. In this region, water is money, and groups clash for "ownership" of the Jordan. On the other hand, that vital need for water can also, paradoxically, provide incentive to settle differences.
Don Belt, the magazine's senior editor for foreign affairs, presents a story with some troubling facts. "Upstream, at the Sea of Galilee," he writes, "the river's fresh waters are diverted via Israel's national Water Carrier to the cities and farms of Israel. ... So today the lower Jordan is practically devoid of clean water, bearing instead a toxic brew of saline water and liquid waste ..."
But it's the imagery that really hits home. A photograph of Israelis relaxing at a water park is juxtaposed with Palestinians' scorched landscape, where inhabitants are restricted to shallow wells. Of course there are multiple sides to a complex issue, but it's hard to deny disparity when you see it. Read the full story and find more of Pellegrin's photos at ngm.com.
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