While dark clouds of terror hung heavily over Israel and especially over the City of Peace, 160 participants in the 2015 Israel Ride arrived in Jerusalem on October 29th. I am in awe of our Israel Riders who were not dissuaded by the violence, from joining the 300 mile bike journey across Israel. I applaud their courage and their commitment to the values that the Arava Institute and Hazon, our Israel Ride partner, embody: cross border / cross cultural bridge building and global sustainability. Demonstrating the exact opposite of what the extremists want us to believe, the Israel Ride Crew, graduates of the Arava Institute, from Israel, Palestine, Jordan and other parts of the world, worked together as true partners to ensure that the riders were well fed, safe, happy and made it to Eilat. I am sure that next year’s ride will be even bigger and more successful and hope that everyone reading this blog will consider joining us.
On June 30th of this year, we released the film The Arava Institute Biogas Project. While we are justifiably proud of this project, we owe an unqualified apology to one of our amazing alumni, Mazen Zoabi – a vitally important partner in the project, who was also one of the students who first expressed interest in this project. His years-long contributions to the success of the project, from its initial stages in 2003 were omitted during the production of the film. Mazen appears in the film in the lab with Ilana Meallem, with no mention of the fact that he is there, doing his master’s research on biogas production at the Sde Boqer campus of Ben-Gurion University. Mazen, an engineering graduate from the Technion, was a valuable member of the team, with his tri-lingual knowledge of Arabic, Hebrew and English, professional skills, and understanding of Bedouin and Arab culture. We deeply regret the omission in the film of Mazen’s contribution to the biogas project and to the Arava Institute.
New USAID Grant for the Center for Transboundary Water Management
We are pleased to announce that the Center for Transboundary Water Management (CTWM) was recently awarded a grant by the USAID Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM) program. This three-year project, called Solutions for Off-grid Food, Energy and Water will address the need for conflict mitigation with respect to environmental management between Israel and Palestine. The project will engage students, technicians, community leaders, and decision makers in the implementation of off-grid, integrated water-energy-food systems. People-to-people activities are designed to bring conflicting parties together over shared resources, and will include training and capacity-building workshops to find local solutions to shared resource needs. The projects’ activities include trainings on solar energy powered grey-water system construction and maintenance; educational tours for students and technicians on local water, food, and energy solutions; and government outreach events. The program − targeting women, university students, community leaders, educators, technicians, and decision makers − will work to improve perceptions of “the other” over conflicted transboundary environmental resources through locally implemented solutions. Project activities will take place in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
Submitted by Clive Lipchin
162 international riders just completed the 2015 Israel Ride! This was the 15th fundraising bike ride organized by the Arava Institute in partnership with Hazon, to support the Institute and its activities. Despite the challenges posed by a difficult security situation and a number of bad weather days at the beginning of the trip, this year’s ride was a great success in raising awareness of the Arava Institute’s mission and collecting vital resources for the continuation of its programs. Besides riding bikes from Jerusalem to Eilat, the participants had the opportunity to get to know various places in the country, and meet Arava Institute alumni who constituted the crew of the ride. A highlight of the trip was Arava Day – a day during which all the riders stopped and spent an afternoon and evening at the Arava Institute in Kibbutz Ketura and had a chance to meet students and get to know the Institute up-close. In addition to the traditional tours and meet-and-greets, this year’s day at the Institute also included the festive opening of the Renewable Energy Workshop at the Institute which was made possible by the generous support of Robert & Carol Deutsch, Aaron Blynn and Daniel Dunn & Amy Gordon.
Submitted by Hannah Kadish
Visitors and guest lecturers at the Arava Institute
The month of October brought many local and international visitors to the Arava Institute. Among the guests were Israeli artist Orlee Malka who is exploring the possibility of establishing a resident artist program at the Institute; Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel, and his wife; 85 students, faculty and staff from the Agriculture and Biotechnology Department of Ben Gurion University of Sde Boqer; agricultural delegations from Brazil, Argentina and Uzbekistan and Kirgizstan; and Dr. Kate O’Neill from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. The latter is the recipient of the 2015 Arava Institute Bley Stein Visiting Professorship, and gave lectures to students, faculty and staff at the Institute, as well as participating as a keynote speaker at the 43rd Annual Conference on Science and the Environment at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Students and staff also enjoyed an additional guest talk by Dr. Jawad Hasan-Shoqeir from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Al-Quds University, Palestine.
Submitted by Hannah Kadish
This semester’s Culture Night once again brought together a unique mix of personal contributions from Arava Institute students and interns. Culture Night is held each semester to encourage students to share something that is vital to their cultural identity – be it of national, religious or recreational character. The evening included a lot of good food from various places in the world, such as Venezuelan arepas, Polish pierogi and Ashkenazi Israeli gefilte fish.Students were also challenged to explore stereotypes regarding German culture, and learn about vegan culture. The event was concluded with an open mic night which gave everyone another opportunity to share part of their personal background through music.
Submitted by Hannah Kadish
International Water Conference
On October 12, the Arava Institute’s Center for Transboundary Water Management (CTWM) were among the hosts of an international conference on Critical Issues in Water Policy and Technology in the 21st Century as a prelude to the Water, Technology and Environmental Control (WATEC) conference in Tel Aviv. The conference included three panels which brought together international experts and delegates from the United States, India, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. The panels discussed problems, solutions, and case studies regarding transboundary water management. Dr. Clive Lipchin, director of CTWM, chaired the panels. Suleiman Halasah, Arab Liaison for CTWM and faculty at the Arava Institute, spoke about his current research regarding renewable energy solutions for off-grid communities. Other panelists included Nissim Ezekiel from the Princeton Energy Group, who discussed the case for California-Israel cooperation on water issues, Dr. Roshni Udyavar of the Institute of Environmental Architecture in Mumbai, who discussed transboundary water issues in India, and Raya Halasah, from the Aqaba Water Company, who discussed her company’s Water Integrity Program which works to fight water corruption in Aqaba, Jordan.
Submitted by Jaclyn Best
Public Council Events in Herzliya and Jerusalem
October saw two successful and enjoyable events of the Israel Public Council of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. The Public Council is made up of Israeli public figures from various sectors who are supporters of the Arava Institute and its values. They gathered on October 14th in the home of Public Council members Oriella Ben Zvi and Danny Ben Simon for a small concert held by Ohad Bar David, a Jewish-Israeli cellist, Hanna Khouri, an Arab-Israeli violist and violinist, and their drummer Ben from Amman, Jordan. The evening also included a panel with two alumni from the very first semester at the Arava Institute. Barely two weeks later, the Public Council met again on October 25th for a tasty and informative evening at the offices of Energiya Global in Jerusalem. Special guest Yosef Abramowitz, co-founder of the Arava Power Company, and alumni of the Arava Institute spoke about the impact of the Arava Institute on sustainability and cross border cooperation in the region. This evening was also attended by a number of participants in the 2015 Israel Ride.
Submitted by David Lehrer
Regional Arava Water Conference
On October 26th, the Arava Institute and the Dead-Sea & Arava Science Center held a joint public conference on Water for Human Use in the Arava Desert . The conference was attended by 110 participants from the local area and included several lectures, as well as a viewing tour of the region, which had just been flooded due to heavy rainfalls the previous day. The program included a lecture by Avi Ramot of the Hevel Eilot Regional Council about water desalination in the Arava, discussions about the current status and future plans for water supply, and a talk about the influence of water salinity on the local flora.
Submitted by Shirly Hackam Yifrah