The fall and rise of the Kishon River

Tal Golan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper recounts the environmental history of a main waterway in Northern Israel-the Kishon, and deploys this history to examine the evolution of Israel water policy as it struggled to bridge the growing gap between its ambitions of development and the realities of its limited water supply. The first part of the paper describes the decay of the Kishon since the early 1950s, and the multiple scientific, political and legal attempts to alleviate its misfortunes, and discusses the reasons for their failings. Some of these reasons were administrative by nature, but the paper suggests a deeper reason, rooted in the ideological core of the infant state that was overwhelmingly concerned with the development of its infrastructure, and invited the pioneering Israeli society to consider the demise of the Kishon as a necessary sacrifice for progress. The second part of the paper describes the late-20th century developments that allowed for the recovery of the ailing river. Changing social mores, the growing importance of environmental politics, the advance of Israel's water technologies, and an environmental scandal that endowed the rehabilitation of the Kishon with a new political and moral meaning, have all contributed to the rehabilitation of the river. Once a testament for the sacrifices involved in a struggle to create a viable state, the Kishon has become a theater for a confident society that has triumphed in its struggle against nature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number283
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental politics
  • Israel water policy
  • Kishon River
  • Water technologies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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