Friends of the Arava Institute’s Speakers Bureau

Speakers Bureau BannerThe Friends of the Arava Institute’s Speakers Bureau brings audiences quality speakers and experts from the Arava Institute on topics related to cross-border environmental cooperation in the Middle East.  In addition to sharing their insights and information about the Arava Institute, speakers are available to speak on the following subjects: Environmental Sustainability, Peace-Building, Renewable Energy & Energy Conservation, Sustainable Development, Water Management, and more.

To engage a speaker from Friends of the Arava Institute, please send a request to with the following information:

  • Date of event
  • Location of event
  • Event type and theme (if applicable)
  • Speaker requested (please request an alternate if first choice is not available)
  • Topic to be presented by the speaker
  • Please advise in advance if this is a fundraising event for your organization

We ask for at least four weeks notice to book a speaker for an event.

Responsibilities of the Event Host

  • Friends of the Arava Institute speakers will receive the following in return for their time and expertise:
    • For events that require more than 3 hours of time and/or travel, $40-$60 per diem to be paid upon speaker’s arrival
    • Complimentary air, train, or bus travel and hotel fees, if needed
    • Complimentary event fees, if needed
    • An honorarium may be required depending on event and speaker
  • Clearly and accurately communicate event details and expectations to the speaker including: time, date, address, number and type of attendees expected (i.e. students, clergy, general public), goal of the event, any pertinent details about the event venue, time allotted for presentation and full agenda, and if audio-visual equipment is provided for video or slides.
  • Provide appropriate speaking venue (i.e. classroom, auditorium, synagogue/church, etc.)
  • Provide space for, or enable the speaker, to have out appropriate Arava Institute materials and possibly a sign-up sheet for more information at the event.
  • Support of the speaker in the event that an audience member is not receptive to the speaker’s remarks.

Responsibilities of the Speaker

  • Appear on time, dressed professionally, and bring prepared remarks, and as required, be prepared to incorporate audio-visual options into presentation (i.e video or slides)
  • Be prepared to answer questions about their work, life, and experiences related to the Arava Institute’s work and mission.

Speakers Bureau Toolkit

Friends of the Arava Institute speakers will be provided with the following materials for your event:

  • Arava Institute informational video
  • Brochures for distribution to attendees (up to 50)
  • Arava Institute FAQ
  • Arava Institute powerpoint
  • Sign-in sheet


Subject Areas:

Cross-Border Collaborations: Israel & Her Neighbors

  • Dr. Shmuel Brenner
  • Rabbi Michael Cohen
  • Natalia Gutkowski
  • Suleiman Halasah
  • David Lehrer
  • Dr. Clive Lipchin
  • Jess Little
  • Manar Saria

Please reference Speaker Profiles below for additional information on individuals and topics

Innovative Solutions to Regional Environmental Issues


  • Dr. Shmuel Brenner
  • Rabbi Michael Cohen
  • Natalia Gutkowski
  • David Lehrer


  • Dr. Shmuel Brenner
  • Natalia Gutkowski
  • Suleiman Halasah
  • Zack Korenstein
  • David Lehrer
  • Dr. Clive Lipchin
  • Jess Little
  • Manar Saria


  • Dr. Shmuel Brenner
  • David Lehrer
  • Allyza Lustig


  • Dr. Shmuel Brenner
  • Suleiman Halasah


  • Dr. Shmuel Brenner
  • Suleiman Halasah
  • David Lehrer
  • Dr. Clive Lipchin
  • Natalia Gutkowski

Transboundary Water issues & Resources

  • Dr. Shmuel Brenner
  • Vivian Futran
  • Suleiman Halasah
  • Rebecca Lash
  • Dr. Clive Lipchin
  • Jess Little
  • Allyza Lustig
  • Manar Saria

Please reference Speaker Profiles below for additional information on individuals and topics

Peace-Building & Politics of the Middle East

  • Abra Berkowitz
  • Dr. Shmuel Brenner
  • Rabbi Michael Cohen
  • Natalia Gutkowski
  • Suleiman Halasah
  • Rebecca Lash
  • David Lehrer
  • Dr. Clive Lipchin
  • Allyza Lustig
  • Josh Neirman
  • Manar Saria
  • Ambassador Daniel Shek

Please reference Speaker Profiles below for additional information on individuals and topics


Speaker Profiles:

Abra Berkowitz

AB headshotArava Institute Alumna (Student), 2009-2010, Program Associate, 2012-2013

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Topics: Interdisciplinary environmental studies at the Arava Institute; Relevance of interdisciplinarity to environmental and peace-building fields and to our world; Professional impact of an Arava Institute education and the Arava Institute as a pathway into academia and publishing opportunities; North American Arava Alumni Network (NAAAN)

Universities Attended: Ben-Gurion University (M.A., 2013); Lafayette College (B.A., 2009)

Place of Origin: Sharon, Massachusetts

Current Occupation: Instructor, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT); Assistant Director, Reinventing Roots: Sustainable Indigenous Empowerment


Abra is both a former student and Program Associate of the Arava Institute. After her time at the Institute, Abra joined the Environmental Studies master’s program at the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies of Ben-Gurion University in Sede Boqer, Israel.

In partnership with Palestinian and Israeli alumni of the Arava Institute, the organization Reinventing Roots, and residents of the Israeli Bedouin village Kaser al-Ser, Abra is in the process of developing an environmental education center that will serve as a sustainable, Bedouin-run, eco-tourism business in the Negev.

Abra is a native of Sharon, MA and currently lives in Cambridge, MA where she teaches at a local technical college, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT).

Dr. Shmuel Brenner


Director, The Arava Institute’s Arava Center for Sustainable Development (ACSD)

Location: Israel

Topics: Environment and Peace in the Middle East; Israel’s environmental challenges and regional impacts; The energy-water-food nexus in relation to conditions of communities living under climatic and economic stress; Life-cycle analysis and the role of off-grid technologies in answering humanitarian needs and contributing towards understanding and reconciliation; The potential, abilities, and limitations of NGOs in the efforts to overcome cross-border environmental and water disputes.


Dr. Shmuel Brenner holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Hebrew University, Jerusalem and had an extensive academic career in other institutions including UCLA, University of Arizona, and Tel Aviv University. For the last 14 years, Dr. Brenner has been a faculty member of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and is presently the director of the Arava Center for Sustainable Development. Shmuel has published more than 70 scientific articles, served in Israel’s Ministry of Health as the head of the National Institute for Environmental Health, and was one of the founders of the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection as well as its senior deputy general where he oversaw departments such as: water quality, solid waste, emergency response, and radiation.  He was also the former head of the National Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health.

Collaboration is an essential element of Shmuel’s professional life – he has worked with the WHO, EPA, IAEA, UNE, NATO, and ILO. Perhaps his most notable accomplishment, while serving in the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Dr. Brenner played an essential role in the Oslo peace process and was directly responsible for the environmental chapter in the Oslo Accord (1995).

Shmuel is married to Sarah (since 1967) and they have 3 children (Eilon, Daphna, and Gili).

Rabbi Michael Cohen

RMMCDirector of Community Relations, Friends of the Arava Institute

Location: Fall 2016, Israel; Spring 2017, Vermont

Topics: The Arava Institute: 20 Years of Experience, Observations, & Lessons; The Bible & the Environment; The Environment as a Bridge to Peace in the Middle East; Conflict Resolution Theories and the Middle East Peace Process; The Middle East peace process; Various Topics on Torah & Judaism.


Rabbi Michael M. Cohen is a graduate of the University of Vermont where he received the History Award, and graduated in 1980 with honors for his work on Lenin’s Theory of Self-Determination and the Muslims of the Soviet Union. While at UVM he did a two-year solo trip around the world. Rabbi Cohen received ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1990, and became the first rabbi at the Israel Congregation in Manchester Center, Vermont. He served as their rabbi for ten years, during which time he was also elected to a term as the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. In 1993, he was awarded the Unsung Hero Award by the Town of Manchester. Rabbi Michael presently serves as the rabbi emeritus of the Israel Congregation.

In 1996, during a period of sabbatical from his congregation in Vermont, Rabbi Cohen taught as a founding faculty member of The Arava Institute. Since then, he has divided his time between his home in Vermont and the Arava Institute. While at the Institute, he teaches classes such as: Genesis As a Key to Environmental Thought; Moses: A Study of Leadership; Environmental Wisdom; and works with the student body.

Stateside, Rabbi Michael is the Director of Community Relations at the Friends of the Arava Institute and also is a faculty member at Bennington College, where he teaches classes on conflict resolution for the College’s Center for the Advancement of Public Action.

Rabbi Michael has co-founded and been active in the development of a number of exciting projects and organizations including: In 2002, he co-founded the Green Zionist Alliance, the first Environmental Zionist party to run in the World Zionist Congress elections. In 2009, he co-founded the Arava Power Company, which works to make solar power the main energy source for southern Israel and the region. In his capacity with the Arava Institute he helped establish the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) an organization of Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian NGOs working for peace in the region. His connection to ALLMEP has enabled him to educate members of Congress, the White House, and Ambassadors and promote the Middle East peace process.

The author of numerous articles on the environment and the Middle East peace process, Rabbi Michael’s writing can be found in Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post (where he is a regular columnist), Letter From America, the Jerusalem Report, The Palestine Times, the Israel-Palestine Journal, The Jordan Times, the Rutland Herald, the Christian Science Monitor, the Arab News, the Saudi Gazette, Today’s Zaman, and the Huffington Post. He is a recipient of the Eliav Sartawi Award for Middle East Journalism from the Search for Common Ground. He is the author of “Einstein’s Rabbi: A Tale of Science and the Soul.”  He presently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Burr & Burton Academy and the Mount Equinox Preservation Trust.

Vivian Fuhrman

Headshot2, Vivian Futran FuhrmanArava Institute Alumna (Graduate Student), Spring + Summer 2009

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Topics: Experience as an Arava Institute student; Water quality; Environmental risk assessment; Emerging contaminants; Endocrine disrupting chemicals; Comparative policy research; Product stewardship; Pharmaceutical stewardship; Career comparisons in private verse non-profit sectors.

Universities Attended: Ben Gurion University (PhD in Environmental Risk and Policy, 2016); University of Pennsylvania (M.A. in Environmental Studies, 2011); Duke University (B.A. in Political Science and International Relations, 2007)

Place of Origin: New Jersey

Current Occupation: Associate for Policy and Programs, Product Stewardship Institute


Vivian is an Associate for Policy and Programs at the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) in Boston, Massachusetts. She is the lead on PSI’s pharmaceuticals stewardship work and is managing the design and implementation of a strategic national product stewardship initiative. Previous to her work at PSI, Vivian lived in Israel where she earned her PhD in Environmental Risk and Policy from Ben Gurion University, building on a BA in Political Science from Duke University and a Masters of Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She has spent over a decade learning and working at the intersection of science and policy, including roles as an environmental consultant, researcher on energy and green buildings, volunteer at EPA, Program Manager for the Global Water Alliance in Philadelphia, and co-organizer of conferences on global land and water issues. Facilitating communication between groups that share a stake in water, energy, and other environmental challenges is the cornerstone of her long-term goals.

Natalia Gutkowski

Gutkowski_Natalia(5x7)Arava Institute Alumna (Student), 2004-2005

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Topics: Israeli-Palestinian Dual Historical Narrative Approach; Sustainable Agriculture Policies in Israel and their Impacts on the Palestinian Citizens of the State; Anthropology of the Environment and Agriculture, Environmental Education and Environmental Justice Education

Universities Attended: Department of Anthropology, Harvard University (Post-doctoral fellow, 2016-2017). The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University (Graduate Fellow, 2015-2016). The Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, (M.A., 2010). Kibbutzim Education College, Tel Aviv (B.Ed. 2006).

Place of Origin: Jerusalem, Israel

Current Occupation: Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University (2015-2016);


Natalia Gutkowski is an educator and a social anthropologist. In her practical experience and academic work she explores ways of promoting environmental and social justice in Israel-Palestine. Gutkowski is a PhD candidate at the Porter School of Environmental Studies and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. In 2015-2016 she served as a Research Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and in 2016-2017 she will be a Post-Doctoral Fellow of the Anthropology Department at Harvard University. Gutkowski’s dissertation is focused on the formation of the new sustainable agriculture policies in Israel and their impacts on the Palestinian citizens of the state. Gutkowski’s Master’s dissertation focused on the “Fair Trade” movement in Israel and Palestine working to improve agriculture and social-economic well-being through Fair Trade olive-oil. Together with a group of Israeli and Palestinian scholars and teachers, Gutkowski has co-authored “Side by Side,” a history textbook presenting the dual historical narratives of Israelis and Palestinians (Learning the historical narrative of the other in its original Hebrew/Arabic versions). Gutkowski’s academic and educational work won several prizes and grants. In 2014, Gutkowski co-founded the Research Section on Environment and Society at the Israeli Sociological Association.

Suleiman Halasah

Suleiman HalasahResearcher, the Arava Institute’s Center for Transboundary Water Management

Arava Institute Alumnus (Student), 2006-2007, Program Associate, Fall 2009

Location: Israel

Topics: Sustainability, water management, and the food-energy nexus.

Universities Attended:  Ben Gurion University (PhD candidate); Ben Gurion University (MSc.); University of Jordan (BSc.)

Place of Origin: Karak, Jordan


Suleiman Halasah is an electrical engineer with a BSc. from the University of Jordan, and a MSc. from Ben Gurion University. After completing his first degree, Suleiman served as a control engineer for the Jordan Valley Authority in the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation. In this position, he was responsible for the SCADA System in the Southern Ghors Irrigation Project. While working on his MSc., Suleiman continued his professional work in the field of renewable energy, water, and the environment. Suleiman became a co-founder of Global Sun Partners, a renewable energy company that works on building solar energy PV power plants in several countries in the world. Suleiman has served as a panel member on the topic of water security, renewable energy and climate change in several conferences.

Suleiman established Integrated GREEN Solutions (i.GREENs) which aims to improve the environmental awareness and introduce green solutions in Jordan and the Middle East, and currently pursuing his PhD research at Ben-Gurion University.

Zack Korenstein

????????????????????????????????????Arava Institute Alumnus (Student), Fall 2000
Board Trustee, Friends of the Arava Institute

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Topics: Experience as an Arava Institute student; Environmental Health and Safety; Sustainability.

Universities Attended: Hunter College, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (MPH, 2010); Rutgers University, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (BS, 2001)

Place of Origin: West Orange, New Jersey

Current Occupation: Senior Environmental Specialist, Environmental Health and Safety Department at New York University


Since completing his studies at the Arava Institute, Zack has continued on a career path focused on environmental health. He spent the first part of his career working as an environmental consultant to assess worker exposure and improve work place safety at a wide range of industrial and commercial settings. His expertise is in chemical and biological exposure, asbestos, mold, and general work place safety and compliance. In 2010, he received a Masters of Public Health (in Environmental Health) from Hunter College in New York City.

Zack is currently a Senior Environmental Specialist within the Environmental Health and Safety Dept. at New York University. In that role he manages indoor air quality, water quality, air emissions, chemical and physical hazards, asbestos management, ergonomics, and environmental and worker health and safety compliance.  He also works closely with the NYU Sustainability Task Force in guiding the university towards greener practices on all levels. In addition, Zack recently co-founded an environmental and sustainability consulting firm called Green Environmental Associates.

Zack has also continued a strong connection to the Arava Institute, speaking at fundraising events in the NYC area, lobbying for the Arava Institute in Washington DC, and collaborating on the With Earth and Each Other rally among other activities with the Arava Institute.  His passion for the mission of the Institute has not dwindled in the over 15 years since his time there.  As Zack will tell you, the experience of learning and living at the Arava Institute was a transformative one that changed his perspective on the path towards peace in the Middle East while preparing him for a career in the environmental field.

Rebecca Lash

Rebecca Lash 2016Arava Institute Alumna (Student), Fall 2015

Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Topics: Experience as an Arava Institute student; Water Politics in Israel-Palestine; Jewish Community as Allies for Peace and Human Rights; Living in Diverse Communities

Universities Attended: Dalhousie University (MA Candidate, 2016-); University of King’s College (BA, 2016)

Place of Origin: Toronto, Ontario (Canada)

Current Occupation: Masters Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Dalhousie University


Rebecca Lash recently completed her honours degree in International Development Studies and Sustainability at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  She wrote her undergraduate honors thesis about the political dimensions of water scarcity in the Gaza Strip. Rebecca is excited to begin her Master’s studies at Dalhousie University where she is pursuing a degree in anthropology, with a focus on political identity and livelihoods of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank. Her deep interest in the Middle East politics is what initially drew her to the Arava Institute as well as her passion for meaningful peace-building, human rights, and climate justice.

David Lehrer

David lehrer headshot 2Executive Director, Arava Institute

Location: Israel

Topics: Environmental and Sustainability Issues in the Middle East; Conflict and cooperation: an environmental perspective on the Middle East; Conflict between the Bedouin Community and the State of Israel; The role of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL).


David Lehrer has served as the Executive Director of the Arava Institute since 2001 and holds a joint Masters Degree in Management Science from Boston University and Ben Gurion University.  David previously worked as a business consultant for kibbutzim, small businesses, the Hevel Eilot Regional Council, and the United Kibbutz Movement and has twice served as an emissary for the Jewish Agency for Israel in the United States. Among his other activities are the founding of the Green Kibbutz Association and the co-founding of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) organization. His research includes studies on the effectiveness of the ISO 14001 environmental management system, sustainable development in the Dead Sea basin, and the cost of invasive species in Israel. David is presently pursuing a doctorate at Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Geography researching the cost of nature conservation in Israel.

David moved to Israel in 1978 and has been a member of Kibbutz Ketura, a rural cooperative, since 1981.  He is married to Barbara Pinsker and they have three daughters, Avigail, Ariana, and Meital.

Dr. Clive Lipchin

Clive 2016Director of the Arava Institute’s Center for Transboundary Water Management.

Topics: Cross-border water management between Israel, Jordan, and Palestine.


Clive serves as director of the Arava Institute’s Center for Transboundary Water Management. He oversees research projects, workshops, and conferences that focus on transboundary water and environmental problems facing Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. His specialty is in water resources management and policy. Clive consults for a number of national and international water agencies such as the World Bank, EU, UNDP, and USAID and has been involved most recently with the European Union’s Water Initiative project for the Mediterranean region and the USAID Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM) program.

Clive’s expertise focuses on cross-border stream restoration and wastewater management issues between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and on integrated food, energy, and water systems for off-grid communities in Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and the developing world. This work is currently being supported in part by the EU, USAID, the British Council, the Israeli Ministry for Regional Cooperation, and private donors.

Clive, a native from South Africa, has been living in Israel for over twenty years. He received a BSc degree in zoology at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, a BSc Honors in wildlife management from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, a MSc in desert ecology from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel and a PhD in resource ecology management from the School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan.

Clive has published and presented widely on the topic of transboundary water management in the Middle East and has served as senior editor on two books: “Integrated Water Resources Management in the Middle East,” and “The Jordan River and Dead Sea Basin: Cooperation amid Conflict.” Since the online publication of “The Jordan River and Dead Sea Basin: Cooperation amid Conflict” there has been a total of 2,440 chapter downloads of the book making it one of the top 50% most downloaded eBooks in the Springer eBook Collection.

Clive has over fifteen years’ experience in integrated water resource management under transboundary conditions with a special focus on Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. His extensive experience in project management for community development projects in water, wastewater, and renewable energy management has helped him successfully manage complex food, energy and water projects for off grid communities where he has successfully integrated aspects of governance, capacity, and finance in setting up sustainable water and associated resources cooperative and management structures. Many of these cooperatives operate in complex socio-economic and socio-political environments with diverse stakeholders.

Jess Little

Jess LittleArava Institute Alumnus (Intern), Fall 2015-Spring 2016

Location: Seattle, Washington

Topics: Experience as an Arava Institute intern; Narratives from an outside perspective and discovering his own narrative; Marrying idealism and realism: challenges and insights; Water management.

Universities Attended: University of Washington (B.S. 2014)

Place of Origin: Sammamish, Washington

Current Occupation: Operations Specialist, Seattle Bouldering Project


Jess Little holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington, where he graduated in 2014. While studying water treatment and management in Jordan, he heard about the Arava Institute from a visiting professor. From Fall of 2015 to Spring of 2016, Jess interned at the Arava Institute’s Center for Transboundary Water Management under Dr. Clive Lipchin, where he monitored and developed efficient sampling and testing protocol for small, off-grid greywater treatment systems in Palestinian areas of the West Bank. He cites his time at the Arava Institute as “one of the best things I’ve done in my life” and “profoundly transformative.” He currently works at Seattle Bouldering Project, a major climbing gym in the Seattle area. Jess is deeply passionate about community building, internal and external conflict resolution, and understanding the “other.” In the future, he hopes to return to the Arava Institute to support their mission of conciliation and cooperation in the Middle East.

Allyza Lustig

Lustig_headshot2Arava Institute Alumna (Intern), 2014-2015

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Topics: Experience as an Arava Institute intern; Coastal management; Climate change adaptation; Water management; Environmental justice; Conflict resolution; Climate change communication. 

Universities Attended: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (MEM, 2017); Barnard College (B.A., 2007)

Place of Origin: Croton on Hudson, New York

Current Occupation: Masters Candidate, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies


Allyza Lustig is currently is a Masters student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she focuses on climate change adaptation, water management, and coastal protection. Prior to her studies at Yale, she spent seven months as an intern with Arava Institute’s Center for Transboundary Water Management. She also spent three years working with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Allyza received her BA from Barnard College, where she studied Environmental Policy and Spanish, and is a native of New York’s Hudson Valley. When she’s not studying and working, Allyza enjoys hiking, travel, live music, and painting.

Josh Neirman

Josh NeirmanArava Institute Alumnus (Fall 2008) and Arava Institute Program Assistant (Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Summer 2011)

Current Location: Washington, DC

Topics: Experience as an Arava Institute Program Assistant; Using environmental issues as a peace-building tool; North American Arava Alumni Network.

Universities Attended: The University of Vermont (B.A., 2009)

Place of Origin: Vermont

Current Occupation: Property Manager, Housing Unlimited, Inc.


Josh Neirman grew up in the rolling hills of Vermont where he graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont (UVM) when flip phones were still a thing. Josh has lived in Washington, DC for over five years and works in Montgomery County, Maryland for Housing Unlimited, Inc. as a property manager where he provides independent and affordable housing for adults in mental health recovery.  When Josh is not busy with his day job he enjoys his challah french toast with copious amounts of Vermont maple syrup as well as serving on the leadership committee for the North American Arava Alumni Network (NAAAN), the DC Jews on Bikes Planning Committee, volunteering for UVM Admissions, and co-chairing the DC Masa Israel Alumni Board among many other things.  He’s also a huge Bernie Sanders fan!

Manar Saria

Manar headshot 2Alumna Fall 2009, Spring 2010

Location: Pittsburgh, PA (USA)

Topics: Experience as an Arava Institute student; Perspectives of Palestinian Citizens of Israel; Coexistence projects stemming from the Institute; The Israel Ride.

Universities Attended: Carnegie Mellon University (M.Sc. in Engineering & Public Policy), Ben Gurion University of the Negev (M.Sc. in Desert Studies, 2012), Western Galilee Collage, Bar Ilan University (B.A. in Economic, Management and Human Resources, 2012), Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (B.Sc. in Water and Environmental Engineering, 2008).

Place of Origin: Haifa, Israel

Current Occupation: Student (Carnegie Mellon University)


Manar is a water engineer who is passionate about community development, environmental issues, and policy-making. Having completed four degrees, Manar has experience in sustainable development, conflict resolution, peace-building, and environmental advocacy via promoting cooperation in the Holy Land. In addition to her volunteer work, Manar has interned for the World Bank Headquarters; and has taken part in various professional development, foreign policy, and sustainability leadership programs in Israel as well as overseas including MEPI (State Department – USA), Global Sustainability Fund (Costa Rica), Young Entrepreneur Program (Wisconsin, USA), and Poli-Tikva (Israel). Manar speaks Arabic, Hebrew, English, and French.

Ambassador Daniel Shek

Shek_1269-m[1]Chair of the Public Council of the Arava Institute
Former Israeli Ambassador to France

Topics: Israel’s foreign policy; The Middle East peace process; European politics; Israel and the media; Fighting BDS the smart way; Israeli politics and society.


A veteran of Israel’s diplomatic service, Daniel Shek served until recently as Ambassador to France. During his 27 year long career he also served as Director of European Affairs, Spokesman of the Foreign Ministry and Consul General in San Francisco. He has extensive experience in European Affairs and has participated in a number of chapters of Arab-Israeli negotiations.

Ambassador Shek has for many years taken part in devising media strategies for the Foreign Ministry and is considered an expert on public diplomacy. He continues to be a frequent guest on media outlets worldwide. He is a strong believer in “soft power” and people to people processes and has throughout his career devoted special attention to projects in the areas of commerce, R&D and culture.

A close associate of Israel’s Minister of Justice (and former Foreign Minister) Tzipi Livni, Ambassador Shek is co-founder of her HATNUA party.  Since leaving the Foreign Service Ambassador Shek has been an independent consultant on Israeli and international affairs and teaches Diplomacy at Tel Aviv University.  He is also a member of the leadership team of IPI, the Israeli Peace Initiative, a civil society driven effort to promote regional peace in the Middle East, and chairs the Public Council of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.

He is fluent in English, French, German and Hebrew.