Never is there a dull moment at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. Here we are, halfway through our fall semester – with 36 Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and international students – and already we’ve had distinguished visits from Meryl Frank, former US Ambassador to the UN on the Status of Women, Israeli politician and author, Yael Dayan, and a group of 19 East Africans taking part in a short course on local and trans–boundary sustainable development around Lake Victoria, sponsored by MASHAV: Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.
Amid this dynamic atmosphere, I’ve taken over as Director of the Arava Institute for the academic year 2011-12.
For those of you who don’t know me, I was honored to partner with Professor Alon Tal in founding the Arava Institute in 1995. Our optimism for Mideast peace during that period motivated our pioneering initiative to bring Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and North American environmentalists together in an educational context. Sixteen years later, we are still sadly without peace in the region, yet throughout this time, I have witnessed scenes that give me hope – Israelis, Arabs and Americans laughing, learning, debating and changing. Together, here, in our desert community on Kibbutz Ketura.
Managing the Arava Institute over this coming year is a challenge I’m glad to be taking on – building Israeli-Arab partnerships and educating for the sake of our shared environment are critical to regional development, and the Arava Institute is at the forefront of these causes.
I would like to thank my wonderful staff for their support and confidence as I take on this position. I would also like to thank David Lehrer, and I wish him a successful and productive year while on sabbatical.
Keep your eye on this blog for updates from different members of the Arava family – staff, faculty, students, and alumni.