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Director’s Blog: September 2015

I wish to express my deep condolences and sorrow to the children of Eitam and Naama Henkin.  Their parents were ruthlessly murdered right in front of them and though miraculously, the children escaped physical harm, I can only imagine the psychological damage inflicted on their young innocent souls.  Dark clouds continue to hover over the Middle East and other parts of the world. Most of the current discourses on the world stage and in the region are threats and ultimatums. What the world needs in general and the Middle East in particular is a more productive dialogue.  In his speech at the UN last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called for the resumption of direct negotiations. I am sure that there are those who doubt the sincerity of the Prime Minister’s words but whatever misgivings people may have, I hope that Palestinian leaders and world leaders will move quickly to support an immediate resumption of peace negotiations. Only through dialogue and trust building which leads to a resolution of grievances and an end to the conflict, will the further loss of innocent Palestinian and Israeli lives be prevented.  The Arava Institute is dedicated to helping young people from the region and around the world develop the skills needed to conduct productive dialogue over contentious issues like water, land, conservation and environmental justice.  The following posts give you a glimpse of the grassroots efforts being made to transform conflict into cooperation. David Lehrer

Start of Fall 2015 Semester

Orientation hikeThe Arava Institute welcomes 21 students and 9 interns to the Fall 2015 Semester! This semester’s participants come from Israel, Jordan, Palestine, the United States, Venezuela, England, Germany, Poland and Spain. After a short week of orientation to the Institute and the surrounding area, the semester began with an array of courses including Principles of Ecology, Environmental Politics, Environmental Science, as well as the compulsory Peace-building Leadership Seminar and the Environmental Leadership Seminar. The month of September also saw a number of Jewish and Muslim holidays, which the students celebrated together with the Campus Life team.
Submitted by Hannah Kadish

Wastewater Management and Treatment Conference at the Arava Institute

Wastewater Management ConferenceThe Center for Transboundary Water Management’s USAID funded project “Mitigating Transboundary Wastewater Conflicts” was concluded on September 7th to 9th 2015 at the Arava Institute with a final workshop titled: Wastewater Management and Treatment Conference: Israel and Palestine. This three year project promoted cross-border wastewater management through the installation of grey water recycling systems in schools and private houses in the West Bank and Israel, in addition to strengthening bonds by bringing together Israeli and Palestinian stakeholders, technicians and decision makers in the field of wastewater management for topical workshops. The conference was attended by approximately 30 professionals from the West Bank and Israel.  Students from the Arava Institute also participated in the workshop.  The workshop offered various lectures, presentations, round table discussions and tours of water and energy management facilities in and around the Arava Institute, as well as an opportunity to network and experience life on campus. Among the speakers were, Emad Al Sana of the Rahat Water Company with a presentation about wastewater management in the Bedouin Sector of Israel, and Monther Hind of the Palestinian Wastewater Engineering Group who spoke about decentralized wastewater treatment systems in the West Bank. This conference was the final in a series of 12 people-to-people encounters over the course of the past three years and thus marks the end of this project funded by the USAID Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM).
Submitted by Gerardo Tremont

Arava Institute Participation in CAPA Leadership Institute

CAPA Leadership Institute 2015Arava Institute researcher and alum Suleiman Halasah, and alumnae Alaa Obeid and Shaya Bonstein, recently participated in the second Leadership Institute organized by the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) at Bennington College, Vermont. The CAPA Leadership Institute, run by Rabbi Michael Cohen, faculty at Bennington College and Friends of the Arava Institute Director of Strategic Partnerships, brings together young leaders from areas of conflict to give them an opportunity to address environmental and social issues of their region. After last year’s successful meeting which focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict, this year’s CAPA Institute was attended by a group of young leaders from Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The three Arava Institute alumni took an active role in mentoring the new participants, assisted them in the work on their own projects, and stood as an example of how people from different sides in a political conflict can work together to solve the common issues they are facing.
Submitted by Suleiman Halasah

New Social Policy Lecturer: Dr. Miri Lavi-Neeman

Miri Lavi-NeemanI was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and lived and taught at the Department of Geography at UC Berkeley, California for the past 12 years. My scholarship draws on political ecology and historical political ecology, critical human geography, development theory and critical ethnography to explore the relationships between Zionism, nature, environmentalism and the working of late capitalism, in multiple sites and regions in Israel, Palestine and the Middle East. I am also the founding editor of Israel’s first journal for social environmental education, “Hakadur Beyadenu” (the Earth or Ball is in your Hands).  I am excited to join the Arava Institute to teach global environmental politics, the cultural politics of nature, and multiple courses and seminars in society and environment focusing on critical theory and analysis.
Submitted by Miri Lavi-Neeman

New Hebrew Grant Writer: Adi Solowey

Adi SoloweyI am 34 years old and was born and raised in Arad, Israel. For the past two years I have been living in Kibbutz Ketura together with my husband and three sons – a three year old and six-month old twins. I hold a B.Sc. in Geology and Environmental Sciences from Ben Gurion University. In my free time I like to engage in arts and crafts. I am joining the Arava Institute as the ‘local Hebrew Speaker’ in charge of writing grant applications, letters, informative material etc. in Hebrew. I am looking forward to learning about the job and the Institute and meeting new people with various different backgrounds.
Submitted by Adi Solowey

Meet Our New Interns

Miriam, Danielle, Lizzy and JaclynDanielle Neeman from Providence, Rhode Island, is currently interning with Dr. Elli Groner in the Center for Hyper Arid Socio- Ecology (CHASE). She holds a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and psychology from Syracuse University. Danielle lived in Costa Rica as part of an environmental studies program, focused on canal bird populations, jaguar feeding patterns and sea turtle conservation.
Jaclyn Best, originally from Colorado and a graduate of Denver University with a BA in environmental science and a minor in sustainability, has now joined the Center for Transboundary Water Management under the guidance of Dr. Clive Lipchin. Jaclyn is a member of the Denver Astronomical Society.
Lizzy Wallis from St. Louis, also a CHASE intern, is a 3rd year undergraduate student at Denver University majoring in geography with a minor in ecology, biodiversity and Hebrew. She is passionate about sustainability and spent some time on a permaculture farm on Vancouver Island developing her agricultural, livestock and domestic skills.
Miriam Grunfeld from New Rochelle, New York, is returning to CHASE this semester after a short summer internship at the Arava Institute in 2014. She is enrolled in a 3 year Master of Landscape Architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania, and has also spent a semester in Kenya and Tanzania at the School for Field Studies during her undergraduate degree at Barnard College.
Shahar  Cohen from Jerusalem, another CHASE intern, is currently completing his undergraduate degree from the Geography Department  of Ben Gurion University and intends  to continue his studies to master’s at the Albert Katz International School of Desert Studies. Shahar spent 3 years as a youth leader in various organizations after serving in the IDF and enjoys travelling to new places, hiking and the arts.
Submitted by Laura Shulton

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