Director’s Blog October 2013

On the 1st of October, 38 Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and international students and interns made their way down from the center of Israel, the West Bank and across the Jordanian border to the Arava desert, embarking on their first days of a semester at the Arava Institute. They chatted away their trip and began getting to know each other, many of them encountering the “other” for the first time. One of the buses on the way down from Jerusalem met a checkpoint and was rerouted – an unplanned introduction to the challenging reality that the students address when they attend the Institute.


The students have settled in, begun classes, and are working to build trust with each other every day. They have already participated in their first Peace-building and Environmental Leadership (PELS) trip, exploring the concept of “dual narratives” to the conflict as it relates to the city of Jerusalem. They toured historical sights, important to various religions, met with academics and former politicians, and visited sites of cooperation like the Arab-Jewish village of Neve Shalom. The students were particularly inspired by an environmental education center in Sur Baher, East Jersusalem, which is built on the grounds of a school for Palestinian children with special needs.  Back in Ketura, in a summary session after the trip, the students expressed their desire to begin delving deeply into the narrative of the other after having been exposed to the very tip of the iceberg during the PELS trip.

Meanwhile, as you’ll see in this month’s blog, the staff of the Institute has remained busy with fundraising trips to the States, participation in international conferences, and preparation for coursework and campus programming. Not to mention that Kibbutz Ketura’s  40th anniversary kept a lot of us busy after work hours. And amidst all that, we are excited to announce a new addition to the Arava Institute community – a new baby! Mazal Tov to our Campus Life Director Lex Paul and his wife Jackie, who just gave birth last week.  The whole campus is thrilled to have baby Tsuk join us.  David Lehrer

Kibbutz Ketura, Home of the Arava Institute, Celebrates its 40th Anniversary


In October 1973, in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur war, a small community was founded in the Arava by Garin Hashachar (the Dawn) made up of a group of American graduates of Hadassah’s youth movement, Young Judaea. Forty years later, a community of 400 including 150 members gathered in the center of Kibbutz Ketura, their children and grandchildren alongside them.

“Did you ever think you’d do anything for 40 years?” asked Judy Bar-Lev, one of the founders of the kibbutz and Office Manager of the Arava Institute. “You never think when you’re young that you’re going stick with something for that long.”

Judy, one of four founding members still on Ketura, headed the team that organized this year’s 40th anniversary celebration. Unlike other years, this was a three-day production, with almost everyone involved in its planning and execution.


“I think this was special because of the connotations of the number 40. In the western world we see 40 as some sort of mid-life train station. So there’s a lot of humor connected with the number. Another aspect is the biblical aspect. The Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years, and we’re a kibbutz in the desert who just spent 40 years of being here. So there’s a lot of Jewish humor involved.”

The weekend’s celebration included live music and performances, a mini-triathalon, horseback riding, mud building, and a large exhibit of photos and mementos dating back to the first days of the kibbutz.   “Some young people came up to me and said ‘wow, I never knew how Ketura began.’” Judy remarked.  “It was a strengthening, crystallizing weekend.”  “What’s special about Ketura is its continued interdependency as its base, while most kibbutzim have become privatized,” Judy reflected. And with the anniversary weekend now complete, Judy hopes that the spirit of the celebration will carry on throughout the year. Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

AIES Students Learn GIS Skills

One of the more popular classes offered this semester is the GIS course, taught by Dr. Aviva Peeters. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) integrate between hardware, software, and data for collecting, managing, analyzing, and displaying spatial information. The main core of GIS is spatial analysis which is a scientific approach for recognizing and analyzing spatial patterns, trends and relationships. GIS is used in order to understand and model spatial phenomena, and can be used to support decision making processes and solve real-world problems.

“It’s very intense for now because we’re learning how to use the program,” reflected one student. “But I’m looking forward to be able to layer all sorts of information on a single map, and to see how some overlapping layers could tell a lot about a certain subject. It’s an important tool because it can be applied in any field of study, and can be use for many types of development projects.”

The course taught at AIES is an introduction to the concepts and methods of GIS. It focuses on the use of GIS for scientific inquiry in environmental sciences and on its application for solving environmental problems. Submitted by Dr. Aviva Peeters

Dr. Elli Groner Attends Long-Term Ecological Research Conference in Korea


Dr. Elli Groner was the representative of the Israel LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) network in the International LTER meeting at Korea 6-13 October.  This is an annual meeting that takes place in a different country each year. In 2010 it was held in Sde Boqer in Israel and next year it will be in Chile. There were representatives of many countries present  including a large delegation from the US LTER who came to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ILTER. There were also representatives of NEON (an observation network of the US government), the National Science Foundation of US, the Deputy Minister of Environment of Korea, and many scientists. Elli presented the Israeli biodiversity monitoring program and also met the Israeli ambassador to Korea. Submitted by Dr. Elli Groner

YEEPI Program Begins Instruction in Area Schools

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The Youth Environmental Education and Peace Initiative (YEEPI) kicked off its academic year this month, as it began working in schools around the country.  And while most of them got off to a good start, some of them encountered difficulties. For instance, this year’s team includes a Jordanian graduate of the Arava Institute who is going to be a YEEPI Leader in two pairs of high school. While the students and school staff who have worked with YEEPI for two years were very enthusiastic about him, there was a pair of high schools that chose not to participate precisely because of this leader’s nationality. Needless to say, the team has continued on proudly with our Jordanian leader andis looking for a new pair of schools for him and his partner YEEPI Leader!

Two of our leaders, Nairooz Qupty and Liel Maghen began the lessons in the schools this month. YEEPI Intern, Vera Saulino, shared her observations of their first class:

Nairooz and Liel began the class by asking students to stand in a circle to play two name games. The circle ended with students tying string bracelets around their wrists as symbols of their unity with YEEPI during the upcoming school year.  Following the activities, Nairooz put on an animated movie called “MAN”. The video illustrated the destruction that man has caused. When the video ended, the students were able to give their interpretations of the video.  Next, the students watched a video taken of the first encounter between the Arab High Schools in Lod and Jewish High School in Holon during the previous school year. The students said that watching the video, they didn’t distinguish between two groups of people, it looked like everyone was equal and everyone was having fun and doing activities together. Submitted by Gonen Sagy and Vera Saulino

Intern Profile: Natasha Westheimer


Natasha Westheimer is interning at the Center for Trans-boundary Water Management at the Arava Institute. Her self-designed major in International Development and Conflict Management, specialization in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict for a double major in Jewish Studies, citation as a Public Leadership Scholar, and certificate of International Law and Negotiation from the University of Amsterdam combine to give her the versatile background needed for dealing with issues related to not only trans-boundary water management, but to the general issues relating to peace building and resource management. Natasha wrote her two senior theses on different aspects of water policy and management in Israel. The first addresses the current challenges related to allocation of water between Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The second investigates the roots of Israel’s current water policy within Zionist ideologies. To complement her studies, Natasha interned at the U.S. Department of State, where she gained an in depth understanding of the U.S. financial aid and foreign policy world, which she is eager to contribute to the Arava Institute. Natasha is thrilled to continue exploring this path and learning more about the intricate and complex water management system within the region through her internship at CTWM. Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

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Director’s Blog: August 2013

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Here I was looking forward to a nice quite August with nothing to do but research, budgets and swimming, when all of a sudden, Dr. Shmuel Brenner, Abby Lutman and I were whisked off to India!  The three of us were invited as presenters to the Melton Foundation’s Global Citizenship Conference. The Melton Foundation is a leading proponent of global citizenship as a way to encourage people and institutions to collaborate on shared global challenges. They accomplish this through a portfolio of hands-on projects and activities that involve a growing network of Melton Fellows, universities, and partners in diverse world regions who share a commitment to promoting global citizenship.  This year’s conference was held in Bangalore, India, hosted by the BMS Educational Trust with many local participants and over 100 fellows from China, Germany, Chile, the US and India attending. I was invited to make a presentation during the Spring Board Session which featured 8 speakers representing different aspects of global citizenship  Shmuel and Abby ran a two day workshop on Conflict, Cooperation and Limited Resources  Abby, Shmuel and I enjoyed ourselves immensely and though far away from the Arava Institute, we felt very much at home mingling with a group of highly motivated, politically aware and socially active fellows and graduate fellows from around the world. I already have a meeting with the Executive Director of the Melton Foundation, Winthrop Carty to discuss the next step in building our relationship with the foundation.

The rest of this month was spent transitioning, with a sad goodbye to our friend and recent Campus Life Director Barbara Finkel and a warm welcome to our new Campus Life Director, Lex Paul, our new Outreach and Communications Associate Gil Brenner and this year’s visiting lecturer Dr. Aaron Frank.  We are looking forward to the coming semester starting with our North American MASA student’s arrival on September 16th and the regular semester starting on October 1st.

Happy New Year

David Lehrer

Medicinal Plant Research at the Arava Institute’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture

On August 12, Dr. Elaine Solowey, Director of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) at the Arava Institute organized a conference on medicinal plants. The conference was held at the Rare Tree Association (RTA) Tree Reserve on Moshav Noam, an agricultural village near Kiryat Gat in Israel. The conference was part of an ongoing CSA project investigating the medicinal properties of Israeli desert plants.  It was attended by farmers and researchers from the region who are also involved in this research. Lecturers included Dr. Eli Harlev, former chemist at Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva, and Dr. Larry Botticelli, the CEO of Pharma Arava, the Arava Institute’s partner in the medicinal plant research project at the CSA. Dr. Solowey herself lectured on the history and progress of the medicinal plant project at AIES in the past twelve years. After a barbeque lunch some of the participants presented their research and work which was followed by a spirited discussion and a networking session. Submitted by Dr. Elaine Solowey

Farewell to Barbara Finkel



This month we bid farewell to our former Campus Life Director, Barbara Finkel. Barbara has been an integral part of our staff for three years. As Campus Life Director, she was known for her organization, reliability, dedication, and amazing sense of humor. As perhaps an illustration of her youthful spirit, the Arava Institute staff decided to take Barbara’s farewell party to a nearby bowling alley, where the true bowling talent (and lack thereof) was revealed amongst the staff. Afterward, over pizza, members of the staff made a toast to Barbara and reminisced about her time at the Institute. It was clear to all in attendance that her presence in the office will certainly be missed. Thank you, Barbara, for your 3 years of hard work and dedication! Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

  Welcome to New Staff!

This month brings us three valuable additions to our staff:

Dr. Aaron Frank, Lecturer


Dr. Frank is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco.  Aaron has a Juris Doctorate from the Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, Georgia 1995.  Aaron’s areas of interest include Environmental Law, Environmental Ethics, and Wildlife Policy.  He is the Founder of the California Wildlife Center and sits on the Board of the Friends of the Arava Institute. In 2013, Aaron won a USF Distinguished Teaching Award.

In the coming year 2013-2014 academic year, Aaron will be teaching Environmental Law, Environmental Policy, Collapse and Environmental Ethics and will be living on Kibbutz Ketura with his wife Julia, son David and daughter Samara.

Gili Brenner, Outreach and Communications Associate


 Gili Brenner was born and raised in Herzliya, Israel. Following her military service at the IDF Spokesperson Unit, Gili graduated with highest honors from Utrecht University, the Netherlands, receiving a B.A. in Politics and International Development. During her studies she conducted a field research of microcredit programs in Thailand and Cambodia. After graduating from Cambridge University with an MPhil in Politics, she moved to London to establish the British chapter of the Israel education organization StandWithUs, which she headed for two years. Gili will be primarily responsible for outreach and communication to potential Middle Eas

tern students in Israel, Palestine and Jordan as well as maintaining relations with the institute’s academic partners.

Lex Paul, Campus Life Coordinator

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A Native of Los Angeles, Lex Paul grew up involved with Israel and entrenched in his local community – attending Day School, working at summer camps, and running a local youth program. After studying history at the University of California at Santa Cruz, he worked managing high end bars and restaurants in Seattle and Los Angeles, as well as starting his own staffing company providing bartenders and servers for some of Hollywood’s biggest caterers and events.  In early 2011 Lex came to Israel on a 5 month program working in the social entrepreneurial field in the southern region. Falling in love with the desert – as well as the idealism, the people, and the vision for the future of the region – he decided to move to Israel permanently and commit himself to the place.  Now newly married and expecting his first child, this will be his first year working at the Arava Institute, but he is excited to be dedicated to making the day to day lives of student’s fun and stimulating.  Lex will oversee the recently built JNF Mountains State Region Dorms and work with the rest of the staff in offering students a culturally diverse and meaningful experience at the Arava Institute.

 Intern Profile: Tara Gron


An appreciation for nature has always been part of Tara’s life. Tara grew up on a small organic farm in rural Littleton, Massachusetts, and then to Newton and Brookline Massachusetts. She spent her summers exploring barefoot and asking questions about her natural surroundings. At the University of Vermont, she learned how to answer her own questions while studying Natural Resource Ecology at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. She graduated in May 2013. Tara loves meeting new people, being outside, and traveling. During her experience in Burlington, Vermont, Tara gained professional experience in running non-profit organizations, conservation and environmental policy, and invasive species monitoring. At AIES, Tara looks forward to being a research intern and the many new experiences to come this year.

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Director’s Blog: July 2013

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The month of July has been a relatively quite month without students and few interns.  Moslems celebrated the month of Ramadan with fasting and prayer while Jews commemorated Tisha B’av with one day of fasting and prayer.  Those of us left at the institute in the Arava summer tried to avoid the heat staying indoors or in the pool.  Judy Bar Lev, our office manager provided some respite by organizing our annual office staff and family ice cream party.  After a very hectic June which signaled the end of the semester, we are all enjoying a quiet summer and starting to gear up for the fall.  I am sure that all of us in the region; those of us who fast and those of us who don’t, those of us who pray and those of us who hope and those of us who do all of the above are focusing on the upcoming renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.  We hope and pray that this time around they will succeed.

David Lehrer

The Arava Institute and Naked Sea Salt Collaborate to Protect Dead Sea

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The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) has proudly announced a planned collaboration with its newest donor, Naked Sea Salt, the first ever salt company to take an active role in protecting the Dead Sea’s environment. The company, now launching on Kickstarter, will collaborate with AIES to raise awareness, and donate a portion of its profits to fund environmental protection programs; like the effort to promote the rehabilitation of the Jordan River and Dead Sea in its Center for Trans-boundary Water Management “AIES-CTWM” Clive Lipchin, Director of the Center for Trans-boundary Water Management, acknowledged the significance of the collaboration, saying, “For Naked Sea Salt to take such significant action is a critical step in the right direction. Their dedication to the environment makes them a pioneer of sustainable practice in the region.” Adds Lipchin, “Too often, companies don’t think about the effect of their commercial activities on the environment. In the Dead Sea, in particular, this has been the case. The current crisis facing the region is the result.” The founder of Naked Sea Salt is Dead Sea activist Ari Fruchter, who began the company after working on an awareness-raising project in the region in 2011. “Naked Sea Salt will actively work for the protection of the Dead Sea,” he says. “The environment plays a critical role in the quality of our salt; our production methods reflect our respect for it as a natural wonder and the center of our work.” The company, launching its campaign on Kickstarter, in efforts of bringing attention to its line of all-natural, gourmet salt, the first from the Dead Sea’s mineral-rich waters. AIES is optimistic that its work with Fruchter will be a model for other industries in the region and signal a new level of cooperation between commercial interests and environmental ones. “We appreciate what Naked Sea Salt has proposed because they are committed to supporting the region,” says Lipchin. “We hope more companies follow their example.” To learn more about Naked Sea Salt’s campaign, visit their page on Kickstarter.

Did You Know? Arava Beetle is Named after Academic Director Dr. Elli Groner


A new species of weevil was discovered in Israel by Dr. Elli Groner, the Academic Director at AIES. The weevil, which is a long-nosed beetle of the family of Curuculidae, belongs to the genus of Brachycerus. It was discovered by Dr. Groner in the Hatira Ridge in the Negev highlands. Recently it was described by an Israeli expert on weevils, Leonid Friedman, together with Amir Sagiv.  It is similar to an existing species, Brachycerus argillaceus, that inhabits the Medi­terranean and the semi-desert areas of the Southern Coastal Plain and Northern Negev, but differs in the flat eyes, elytral tubercles, and very low ridges. The species was named  Brachycerus groneri by Friedman and Sagiy,  “in honor of Israeli ecologist Dr. Elli Groner, the leader of a research group that studies the biodiversity and ecology of arthropods in Israel, and the collector of part of the type series.” It is this type of discovery of a new species that helps protect biodiversity and desert ecosystems. Dr. Groner said in response to the discovery and naming: “ I’d rather have added a new species to science than another publication.” Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

On-Campus Greywater System Nears Completion

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Last week the major construction components of the greywater treatment and reuse system for the new JNF Mountain State Region dorms were complete at the Arava Institute. This system is connected to 2 units in the new student dorms funded by the Mountains State Region (Colorado) of the JNF which were constructed with high environmental performance in mind, and will be a test site to monitor the systems treatment capacity and efficiency. Six more similar systems will be constructed as part of the USAID-Conflict Management and Mitigation funded project – entitled “Mitigating Trans-boundary Wastewater Conflict.” In the coming 6 months.  Four of these systems will be built in Palestine and 2 in Israel. Thanks to the Osprey Foundation, the institute is very proud to have the first site built on Ketura at the dorms, allowing the researchers and students to continuously study, test and optimize the system for future implementation in rural decentralized households which are not connected to any wastewater infrastructure. Submitted by Shira Kronich

Dr. Shmuel Brenner Co-authors Paper on the Effects of the Oslo Peace Accords on Waste Management in the Middle East


Dr. Shmuel Brenner, faculty member of the Arava Institute, recently co-authored an article published in the Journal of Peacebuilding & Development. The article, entitled “Peace and Pollution: An Examination of Palestinian—Israeli Trans-Boundary Hazardous Waste Management 20 Years after the Oslo Peace Accords” qualitatively evaluates the outcomes of the Palestinian–Israeli Oslo environmental peace agreements regarding trans-boundary hazardous waste management. The paper argues that “although the environmental negotiations that took place within the framework of the Oslo Accords can be seen as a significant milestone for environmental cooperation, many objectives were never achieved….Ultimately, both parties were left with sub-optimal trans-boundary management, in practice, because broader political disputes derailed cooperation in many technical spheres.” The authors chose to focus on hazardous waste because of its “potential for inefficient management to impact on public health and shared ecological resources.” The full article can be accessed here. Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

Alumni Profile: Jessye Waxman


Jessye Waxman, a student from spring semester 2013, is studying environmental science and policy at Duke University. For Jessye, studying at the Arava Institute has demonstrated the difference between listening to a lecture and learning from individuals’ experiences. This is especially true of the Peace-Building and Environmental Leadership Seminar (PELS) where Arava students from many different cultures and backgrounds engage in dialogue about political issues. “There is enough comfort in the group that people can say whatever they want. You learn a lot when people aren’t afraid to say what they’re really thinking, ” says Jessye. Jessye has been involved in environmental projects since she was 12, focusing primarily on environmental education. She is interested not just in hard science, but in the politics around environmental issues. She’s currently studying the connection between environmental movements and democratization in Jordan, Egypt, and other Arab Spring countries.

Faculty Profile: Dr. Avigail Morris

Avigail Morris

Anthropologist, Dr. Avigail Morris has rejoined the Arava Institute as both a researcher and lecturer. Avigail has been associated with the institute intermittently since 1997. In the fall semester Avigail will teach a joint course with Dr. Aaron Frank entitled  “Collapse” which will include an anthropological approach to environmental studies. Avigail, who is employed by both Arava Institute and the Science Center is currently involved in 3 research projects. The first is a cross-cultural comparative study on ecosystem services on both sides of the Israeli-Jordanian border in the Arava. The second project is entitled: The Process of Ageing in the Arava and the Dead Sea: Perceptions, Experience and Planning for the Future. Avigail is also in the final stages of a project with Dr. Sarab Abu-Rabia on informal incomes among Bedouin women in unrecognized Bedouin villages. In 1988, with the support of the Jerusalem Center for Anthropological Studies, Avigail developed a program for teaching anthropology to children and young adults. For the past 24 years she has taught cultural anthropology on several levels including elementary, high school, undergraduate and graduate. Over the years she has also taught several seminars and workshops on qualitative research methodology with an emphasis on ethnographic fieldwork. In 1994 Avigail traveled to the Kingdom of Tonga in Polynesia in order to do fieldwork for her doctoral  thesis entitled, ” Playing to a New Rhythm: An Ethnography of Female Games and Sport in the Kingdom of Tonga”.  Her fieldwork involved an in-depth study on traditional and changing gender roles and status among both urban and rural women in Tonga.   In 2011-12 she returned to Tonga to update her thesis and to study informal incomes amongst Tongan women. She is in the process of writing up her findings. Recently, Avigail has also joined the Peace Building and Environmental Leadership Seminar committee, together with Dr.  Sarab Abu Rabia who has replaced Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed.  Avigail has recently published 2 papers on ecosystem services together with AIES student and faculty.  Avigail is a member of Kibbutz Ketura.

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Director’s Blog: June 2013

Public Council for the Arava Institute meets with Minister of Environmental Protection, Amir Peretz


The Public Council for the Arava Institute held its second meeting in Tel Aviv on Friday, June 28th at the French Cultural Institute on Rothschild Ave.  About 30 members of the Public Council, Arava Institute staff and Arava Institute alumni gathered to hear Minister of the Environment, Amir Peretz speak about the dangers of Israel ignoring our environmental problems as well as the conflict with our neighbors.  As Public Council Chair, Daniel Shek stated in his introduction of Minister Peretz to the gathering, Amir Peretz is a member of the Peace Camp, is the Minister of the Environment and a champion of the south of Israel and therefore the best partner for the work of the Arava Institute. Minister Peretz was clearly moved by the speaches of the two students who just completed their year at the Arava Institute, Leilah Hashweh and Neriah Greniman.  Minister Peretz responded to the speeches of he two students by emphasizing the need to work together with our neighbors to protect the environment and the strategic importance of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.  The gathering was also an opportunity to say farewell to our good friend and colleague, Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, who talked about how important the 5 years that he spent at the institute on Kibbutz Ketura has meant to him.  I want to take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude to Tareq for all that he has contributed to the Arava Institute and to me personally. I wish you good luck at the Ministry of Science but know that the Arava Institute is always in your heart. It has been a very exciting month of June including AIES night, the end of the semester, visits from Public Council members and the Indian Ambassador to Israel and more. There is only so much of this month we could fit into this blog.  Happy reading.

David Lehrer

Congratulations and Farewell to Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed


Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, the Director of the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation at the Arava Institute for the past 5 years, is leaving the Institute this month. We are incredibly proud to announce that he will be accepting the position of Director of Applied Sciences in the Ministry of Science, an opportunity that he undoubtedly deserves and that will afford him the chance to impact research and scientific advancement throughout the country.

When Tareq interviewed for the job of Director of CREEC in 2008, we knew instantly that it was the perfect match. He was an experienced researcher who also possessed all of the qualities of a good director – personable, focused, a skilled manager, and someone with vision. The staff remembers that on his first day of his job, he was handed the application for two major grants which he had to complete within that week. Tareq, as is his nature, accepted the challenge without hesitation, eventually securing funds from both grants without breaking a sweat. He has continued with this exceptional dedication and flexibility since day one. His role as Director of CREEC has grown over the years to reflect this very unique adaptability he possesses  teaching students, directing research, securing ongoing funding for the center, and helping it to grow in magnitude.

Under his leadership, the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation, funded by the Greater Toronto Jewish Federation and the United Israel Appeal,  has worked to develop a graduate program in renewable energy, obtained and constructed its first laboratory, and overseen the development of a research and visitor’s park at the institute. It has also produced unforgettably talented students who have partnered and co-authored with Tareq on research and publications. In the meantime, Tareq has gained recognition throughout the scientific community in the region for his work in renewable energy generation, specifically hydrogen production and boron hydrolysis, on which he has published profusely.  He has won numerous awards including the Best Paper Award for the World Renewable Energy Congress (2011) and the Dan David prize for Social Responsibility with Emphasis on the Environment (2011).

Tareq has become a truly beloved member of our staff, revered for his hard work and dedication both in the office and in the classroom. He is marked by a consistently pleasant disposition, reliability, and a willingness to help. As for the students, he has undoubtedly served as a role model– not only to our Arab students, who see him as a source of inspiration and have always had a special kinship with him, but to all of our students alike. Tareq was also loved and highly respected by the members of Kibbutz Ketura where he, his wife, and his daughters lived for several years.

So it is on behalf of the entire community from Kibbutz Ketura and the students and staff of the Arava Institute – that we’d like to wish Tareq and his family heartfelt congratulations also on the occassion of the birth of their new baby boy, Jad!  We look forward to seeing his accomplishments accrue on the national level for years to come. It has truly been an honor to have Tareq has part of our team and community. Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

Eliza Mayo Joins Staff as Director of Development

bio-photo3 (1)Eliza Mayo, the new Director of Development, is a member of Kibbutz Lotan where she has lived since 1990. Eliza has served on Lotan as manager of the date orchards, general secretary, coordinator of PR and fundraising for Lotan’s Center for Creative Ecology, and twice as business manager (CEO) of the kibbutz. From 2003 – 2007, she was the coordinator of Sababa–  a public action branch of AIES that united local residents and AIES students for local environmental action. Eliza has a Master’s degree in international development with a thesis in environmental economics, a passion for communal living and a penchant for dabbling in arts and crafts. Eliza is married to Rabbi Simcha Daniel Burstyn and lives with two beautiful  teens, Amalia and Reuven, and one dog, Murphy (who is not named for the law.) As Director of Development, Eliza will oversee existing and new fundraising and grant writing efforts of the institute. Eliza is thrilled to be back working at AIES.

AIES Researchers Produce a Pre-Feasibility Study for the Med-Dead Conveyance

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A new pre-feasibility study, conducted by the Center for Trans-boundary Water Management at the Arava Institute, provides a comprehensive summary of previous research done on the Med-Dead conveyance, describing four different potential Med-Dead solutions from a historical, economic, engineering, environmental and political perspective. The Arava Institute undertook this research hoping to highlight the potential for the Med-Dead conveyance to contribute to water security, energy security, and food security in the region, factors which have implications for regional cooperation between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories.

“I believe that if we can prove that it is a feasible project, environmentally and economically, it will happen. The political problems can be solved,” says Professor Uri Shani, former Israeli Water Commissioner.

The report gives a comprehensive overview of the history of the project. To this end, it explores prior engineering analyses as well as international agreements such as the Oslo Accords and United Nations resolutions.  A conveyance of the proposed size would be a major infrastructure engineering undertaking.  Therefore, the report details technical components of this project including water pumping, energy generation, and regulation reservoirs.  Finally, it analyzes the benefits and drawbacks of the multiple conveyance routes that have been proposed, as well as the impact that this proposed conveyance will have on the Dead Sea.

Full reference:  Samuel E. Willner, Clive Lipchin, Shira Kronich, Tal Amiel, Nathan Hartshorne and Shae Selix. 2013. A Pre-Feasibility Study on Water Conveyance Routes to the Dead Sea. Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.

Submitted by Shmuel Willner

AIES Alumni Spend Summer Abroad in the States

Yousre OdehYousre Odeh, from Nablus, Palestine, will be spending his summer at the Hotchkiss Summer Portal, leading environmental studies activities inside and outside of the classroom. Yousre was a student at AIES from 2009 to 2010, and has also been part of the student life team in the past. He has a degree in wind power project management from Gotland University in Sweden. “It is interesting to see high school students coming from all over the world to express their concerns and to work to protect the environment,” says Yousre. Ran Menashe will be participating in an internship as part of the Keep Chicago Beautiful project. The program is designed to provide participants with environmental tools, seeing how different organizations deal with environmental problems, visiting the Metropolitan water reclamation district, and talking to students about being environmentally conscious. Ran grew up in Ra’anana, Israel and studied at the Institute in 2011. For the past few years he has been focusing on group facilitation, workshop and tour guiding for families, kids and students and is looking to pursue environmental education. Good luck to Yousre and Ran!

Members of the Public Council Visit AIES, along with the Indian Ambassador!

SAMSUNGSince the launch of the Public Council for the Arava Institute in January, efforts have been made to increase membership in the council, and to encourage current members to visit the Institute. We were pleased to host two members, Keren Mor and Bruria Albeck, who made on on-site visit to the Institute on Sunday, June 2nd. Ms. Mor and Ms. Albeck were greeted by Executive Director David Lehrer, met with students, toured the campus, and had a Q&A session with staff. We are all hopeful that other members of the Public Council will follow the example of Keren and Bruria and visit us soon!

While Keren and Bruria were meeting with the students, we were also honoured to hosting the Indian Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Jaideep Sarkar. The ambassador became aware of AIES after Kibbutz Ketura member Daphne Shimson-Musnikow, originally from India, was given the honor of carrying the torch in this year’s Independence Day ceremony. The Ambassador spent the afternoon on Kibbutz Ketura, visiting with members and businesses, and was able to meet with AIES students as well. Submitted by Judy Bar-Lev

AIES Faculty and Alumni Publish Article in Journal of Arid Environments

Arid Environments

Congratulations to alumnus Hila Sagie, and faculty members DrAvigail Morris and Dr. Elli Groner, for being published in the Journal of Arid Environments this month. Their article, titled “Cross-cultural perceptions of ecosystem services: A social inquiry on both sides of the Israeli-Jordanian border of the Southern Arava Valley Desert” explores local resident perspectives on ecosystem services in the hyper-arid Arava Valley/Wadi Araba, which spans across both Israel and Jordan (and is the home to AIES!). Ecosystem services, as the article thoroughly explains, “is an increasingly popular precursor for crafting sustainable natural resource management and land use policy, and is an inherently multi-disciplinary endeavour.” The research addresses both kibbutzim and Bedouin villages, engaging in in-depth interviews with stakeholders in both regions. The article was also co-authored by Daniel Orenstein, of the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at Technion, as well as Yodan Rofe, of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The research helps to avoid common problems including the disregard of important and unique social and cultural perspectives when identifying ecosystem services.

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Director’s Blog: May 2013

One week in May!

As Kayla and I finalize this month’s blog and try to get it out before Friday, it is the end of an exhausting and action packed week at the Arava Institute.  On Sunday, the the Academic Program held  AIES night in which students presented their independent study and Masters research projects from studies of cancer fighting plants to trans-boundary river basin restoration.  The Institute hosted a JNF Academic Tour which included professors from 10 universities accross the US. On Wednesday night the MASHAV course (see below) held Culture Night presenting cultures from the 14 countries represented in the program.  On Friday, the Youth Enviromental Education Peace Initiative Team (YEEPI) from Sachnin, Kiryat Shmona, Kibbutz Lotan and Kibbutz Ketura is convening to build its 5 year strategy for growth.  With a visit from the Indian Ambassador to Israel, a delegation from Columbia University’s Earth Institute and a public meeting on the planned train to Eilat held at the regional council and jointly sponsored by Green Course and the AIES all scheduled for this coming Sunday, next week is not shaping up to be any more relaxing.  David Lehrer

Students Learn “Dual Narratives”  of the Conflict on Trip to Jerusalem


—The PELS Dual Narratives Trip brings the theory, perspectives and stories students have learned throughout the semester into practice, touching upon themes of identity, memory, trauma, empathy, and reconciliation. The trip began on May 8th, when the group met with the Parents Circle-Families Forum and Combatants for Peace, two NGOs that promote reconciliation to break the cycle of violence. After the talk, we drove to Lifta, an Arab village which was depopulated after 1948. Umar Ighbarieh, a guide from the NGO Zochrot gave us an overview of the history of the village, and discussed how it is an essential part of Palestinian history, but is nonetheless not marked on any maps, nor commemorated as a heritage site. We walked through the village and saw a town which had been abandoned; beautiful, Arabic-liftastyle buildings were left as they had been before 1948, and wide open spaces showed the space where demolished buildings once stood.  The AIES alum Kfir Kol then guided the group on bike ride from Lifta to Ein Kerem. On the second day of the trip, we went on a guided tour of Yad Vashem, the world center for the documentation, research and commemoration of the Holocaust. After the tour, participants reflected on the things that they had seen and heard over the past two days. For many students, this was a deeply emotional experience which touched on their own family histories and raised many ethical questions  Afterward, at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Bilingual School for Jewish Arab Education, participants learned about a school which brings together Arab and Jewish students to study together from an early age. A few days after the trip, the students shared what they had taken out of it – their thoughts on whether or not the organizations we visited constituted “normalization,” the need for recalling and recognizing the suffering of the other, and the question of how large-scale change can be made – and if it can, what is their role?  Submitted by Michelle Shachar and Abra Berkowitz 

Arava Institute Alumni Gather In Beit Jala For Annual Conference 2013

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On the weekend of Thursday, May 9th through Saturday, May 11th, 2013 over 100 alumni and associates of AIES attended the annual two-and-a-half day conference coordinated by the Arava Alumni Peace and Environmental Network (AAPEN.) The alumni, staff members, current students, and guests gathered at Talitha Kumi School and Guesthouse in Beit Jala, outside of Jerusalem, in an area accessible to both Palestinians and Israelis. The weekend provided the opportunity for alumni from various years of study to network, learn about each other’s work, meet new people and maintain and strengthen already established relationships and partnerships. Conference sessions included presentations of current alumni projects, a tour of nearby al-Walaja village, open space discussions, project planning, and group formation for committed project implementation. A number of exciting new projects emerged including a proposal to create an opportunityfor service and development work abroad and a plan to organize an alumni collective to engage in non-violent social activism to end to the current political stalemate. The conference was organized by a team of alumni and made possible through a generous grant provided by the Miller International Institute of the Rutgers School of Law in Newark, New Jersey an important partner for support of the AIES alumni activities. Dates have been set for several future gatherings of alumni that will be educational, political, and environmental in nature including an upcoming tour in June 2013 of the Silwan neighborhood in Jerusalem complimented by a hands on workshop for learning about the legal implications of participating in peaceful protests and direct action.  Submitted by Lindsey Zemler

YEEPI Conference Gathers Participants and Ambassadors in Sakhnin


On a beautiful morning in early May, students and teachers from ten Arab and Jewish Israeli high schools gathered to summarize and celebrate this year’s environmental and multicultural activities they completed as part of the Youth Environmental Education and Peace Initiative (YEEPI).  The conference took place at the Towns Association for Environmental Quality (TAEQ)  in Sakhnin, and the schools were joined by representatives of the US Embassy. The day opened with students from all schools speaking about their experiences during the year so far, and their hopes for YEEPI in the future. The day’s agenda also included explanations of green building, preparation of solar cookers, explanation on purification of sewage, and planting trees. After lunch, the students started a session of traditional dances from their respective cultures and each school received a participation certificate for participation in YEEPI this year. Dr. Gonen Sagy, Director of YEEPI and Arava alum,  said that the conference was “an excellent opportunity to bring communities in Israel together. Students and teachers at YEEPI schools are doing remarkable, courageous work with the guidance of the YEEPI Leaders. This is an great opportunity for students and teachers to see that they are not alone. We thank them for the confidence they have in us.” Submitted by Dr. Gonen Sagy

MASHAV Participants Arrive at Arava Institute on Kibbutz Ketura for a Course in Renewable Energy 

group photo

On May 20th, 24 professionals from 14 different countries arrived at the Arava Institute to study “Renewable Energy as a Catalyst for Sustainable Development.”  This two-week long course is sponsored by MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation. The group includes professionals from  academia, government, civil society and the business sector.  The course looks at renewable energy in Israel, renewable energy policy and how to apply lessons learned in Israel back in their home countries. Countries represented include Ghana, Colombia, Vietnam, Serbia, Georgia, Kenya, Nicaragua and many more. The program includes lectures by AIES faculty members;  Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, Dr. Shmuel Brenner, Dr. Ilan Stavi, and visiting lecturers Dorit Banet of the Hevel Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative.  The group will travel in the Arava region and throughout the country, including a weekend in Jerusalem. A big thanks goes out to AIES staff members Tali Adini and Abby Lutman whose hard work made this program possible. Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso 

Intern Profile: Shae Selix


This month we bid farewell to Shae Selix, who  served as an intern with the Arava Institute’s Center for Trans-boundary Water Management (CTWM) for the last six months. Shae worked on the Hebron-Beer Sheva-Besor river restoration project. He collected data on the hydrology of the watershed and on the socioeconomics of the communities within the watershed, both Israeli and Palestinian. Shae then integrated this  data into a series of GIS maps and incorporated them into a website. The website will be used to engage with stakeholders within the watershed.  We are proud to say that upon returning to the US, Shae will begin a Master’s program in Public Health at Yale University, beginning in the fall. Congratulations, Shae! You will be missed. Submitted by Dr. Clive Lipchin

Join the Arava Institute and Hazon Israel Ride: October 29 – November 5, 2013!

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Preparations are well underway for the 13th Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride. As of the writing of this bog, we have 116 riders registered.  The ride staff is hard at work booking support staff, busses and meals, hiring the crew, and finalizing routes. This year the route we have chosen is the “Classic Route” – Jerusalem to Eilat via Beit Guvrin, Ashkelon, the Negev Highlands, Mitzpeh Ramon and Ketura.  The highlight of the ride is, as always, an evening with the staff and students of the Arava Institute.If you are still thinking of joining the ride, now is the time to register and start training. Visit: Submitted by Tali Adini, Israel Ride Director

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Director’s Blog: April

Back from the Spring Break

After a needed break from studies, students returned to the Arava Institute from their vacation full of energy and enthusiasm. The annual Biodiversity Course taught by Dr. Uri Shanas and Dr. Elli Groner offered an opportunity for many students to get out in the field and experience how conservation is really practiced.  Soon after the their return students were treated to a four day “Water Trip”, part of the “Water Resource Mangement in the Middle East Course”, taught by Dr. Clive Lipchin, which included visits to significant water sites in  Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Our Youth Environmental Education Peace Initiative, headed by Dr. Gonen Saguy, which brings together Arab and Jewish Schools in Israel around environmental education had a special visitor this month, Ms. Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of US Secretary of State John Kerry.  The Arava Center for Sustainable Development graduated its first class in sustainable agriculture in Kenya while research at the institute in trans-boundary water management, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and bi-national nature conservation continues to contribute to the body of knowledge which is protecting our natural environment and human welfare in the Middle East and around the world.  Finally, we look forward to the Arava Alumni Peace and Environmental Network’s annual conference being held in Beit Jalla, West Bank on May 9th- 11th, this year sponsored by the Miller International Institute at the Rutgers University School of Law.

David Lehrer

Furrows in the Desert  Project Successfully Trains Farmers of Turkana, Kenya


Furrows in the Desert (FID), a project which aims to train the people of Turkana, Kenya in sustainable agricultural practices, just completed its first course on March 22nd.  FID is a joint project run by the Israeli NGO Brith Olam, the Arava Center for Sustainable Development, and the local monastery. The participants, which included a farm manager and local volunteers, were trained by Arava Institute affiliates Moti Harari and Amit Eliyahu. The course, which began in October, taught the students about land preparation, fencing, and compost preparation. The graduates will continue to receive ongoing practical and theoretical consultation for their own farms by the FID team. Congratulations to the graduates!  The Arava Center for Sustainable Development, headed by Dr. Shmuel Brenner, is dedicated to empowering peoples from the developing world through onsite training and programs held at the institue, spreading the knowledge gained in sustainable technologies and methods developed in the Arava.

Submitted by Elli Groner

Biodiversity Course Takes Students on a Sand Dune ExpeditionImage

During the first week of April, the Arava Institute held a four-day expedition as part of the “Biodiversity of Sand Dunes” course at Samar Sand Dunes in the southern Arava. Dr. Elli Groner led a class with both students from AIES and from Haifa University, along with Dr. Uri Shanas of Haifa University. The expedition aimed to teach students how to study the diversity of a specific landscape unit. They were taught how to set up pitfall traps to capture insects, arthropods and lizards; as well as how to set up Sherman traps to capture rodents. All the captured animals were then collected and taken to the lab in order to also teach students how to identify each species by using microscopes and other equipment. The final requirement of the course will be to write a report on the biodiversity of this specific dune landscape unit  applying various biodiversity indices including Whittaker, Simpson, and Curtis.

Submitted by Asem Makableh

Ms. Teresa Heinz Kerry visits a YEEPI School


On the 9th of April, Ms. Teresa Heinz Kerry, businesswoman, philanthropist, and wife of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, accompanied by Ms. Julie Fisher, wife of U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro, visited a group of tenth graders at Lod High School in central Israel. These lucky tenth graders are participating in an extracurricular program called  the Youth Environmental Education Peace Initiative (YEEPI), supported in part by the US Embassy in Israel, the  Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and also by the high schools themselves.  YEEPI is a unique program founded by a group of Arava Institute alumni and headed by Dr. Gonen Saguy, who is also an alumnus. The program exists as a partnership between the Arava Institute and the Towns Association for Environmental Quality –Agan Beit Natufa. YEEPI strives to remove religious and cultural barriers by joining Jewish and Arab schools together to learn how to protect and care for their shared environment. The success of YEEPI lies in its ability to break down stereotypes of “the other” and to help the students see each other as friends and equals, not Jews and Arabs. During the initial part of Ms. Heinz Kerry’s visit, the educators and administrators from both Ort Lod (the Arab high school) and Ort Holon (the Jewish high school) gave presentations about their ongoing work and some of the challenges that they face. Then, a group of students made presentations to the visitors. Most talked about the positive impact YEEPI has on them and how much they enjoyed the program while several students from Ort Lod expressed their desire to live in peace and work together. Some of the students from Ort Lod come from Bedouin households and for them, peace without compromising their traditional lifestyle was especially important. One student talked about how every morning, she assists her family by baking hundreds of Shrak (traditional Bedouin bread) before she leaves for school. In the evening, in addition to her chores and helping take care of her brothers and sisters, she studies hard to maintain good grades so that she can attend medical school. Her dream is to become a doctor, a dream that not so long ago, would have been nearly impossible for a Bedouin woman living in a traditional household. In honor of Ms. Heinz Kerry and Ms Fisher’s visit, the girl brought in a plateful of Shrak for everyone to try.

Submitted by Vera Saulino, YEEPI Intern

Students embark on “Water Trip” and witness challenges to management in the region


Photo by Stacia-Fe Gillen


Photo by Dima Khoury


Photo by Dima Khoury


Photo by Dima Khoury

At the crack of dawn on April 12th, the entire student body of the Arava Institute, accompanied by staff and interns, boarded a bus headed for Ashkelon. It was the beginning of a 5-day Water Trip. The trip was part of a required course for all students called “Water Resource Management in the Middle East,” and was intended to show the challenges and approaches to transboundary water management in Israel, the West Bank, Palestine, and Jordan.  The trip began in Israel, with behind-the-scenes tours of a desalination plant and wastewater treatment plant. The desalination plant supplies Israel with 15% of its domestic water production, and the wastewater treatment plant is one of the most complex of its kind in the region. The following morning in Jerusalem, the group was introduced to  the Kidron River Valley. The Kidron River is a body of water for which both Israelis and Palestinians are riparians, and one that is beleaguered by contamination – including over 28,000 cubic meters of raw sewage which flows through the river. The students met with experts from Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) and the engineers behind a joint Master Plan to address the needs of the Kidron.  The group talked at length about the political barriers that prevent said Master Plan from manifesting – including the Israeli government’s rejection of joint proposals for the improvement of Palestinian infrastructure.We were kindly hosted by an alumnus who lives in East Jerusalem, and whose backyard looks down into the Kidron Valley where birds flocked around the raw sewage flowing in the river.The group then made its way to a reservoir in Area C of the West Bank, at what would be the most politically tense hour of the day. The reservoir provides water mainly to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The manager of the reservoir began explaining how the plant operates and his role in it, but the conversation was quickly diverted into an argument about whether or not the settlements should be there in the first place. After a bitter argument, the group departed the reservoir, feeling considerably discouraged about the chances for reconcilliation in the region. It was a relief, then, to arrive for lunch at EcoME – an ecological center in the West Bank founded by Arava Institute alumni which served as an oasis to the weary travelers. AIES alumni including Rina Kedem and Liel Maghen facilitated a group discussion reflecting on the frustrating experience at the reservoir.  The group left EcoME with good food in their stomachs and with a bit of restored hope. The trip was truly the highlight of the semester so far.  A huge thanks goes out to Dr. Clive Lipchin, director of the Center for Transboundary Water Management, program director Cathie Granit, and campus life director Barbara Finkel for organizing the trip and making it run smoothly.The next two days were dedicated to exploring water in Jordan, including a large reservoir, the King Abdullah canal, and the Dead Sea. The students met with area experts who guided them through the status quo of water usage in Jordan – some of the progress that has been made, and some of the setbacks. The next day, the final activity was an exhilarating, upstream  hike through Wadi Mujib – where the entire group climbed up rocks and rope systems to reach a huge waterfall. They went back the way they came, floating effortlessly downstream on a lazy river. The physical exercise and relaxation of being immersed in the water was the perfect cure for those who had been feeling discouraged or overwhelmed  by the critical political and environmental questions posed by the trip.

Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

Intern Profile – Evan Morrow


Evan Morrow, born in Vancouver, Canada, graduated with a BSc in Environmental Science from Queen’s University with a focus on Physical Geography and Economics in 2008. He also received an MSc in Ecological Economics from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 2009, where he looked at the economics of transporting water from a water abundant country (Turkey) to a capital abundant country (Israel), as well as the role that regional politics has played. Evan has since spent time taking accounting courses, volunteering at an afterschool program at a community center in Vancouver, planting mangroves and teaching English in the Philippines. He is looking forward to working on the website, GIS and other elements of the stream restoration project, and enjoying his time on Kibbutz Ketura.

Alumni Profile – Raja Abdel Aziz


Raja Abdel Aziz  is from Jerusalem. She received her BA in History and Political Science from Birzeit University. Her education is very important to her and during her time at the Arava Institute  in 2010-2011, she contributed to the Peace Building and Environmental Leadership (PELS) course with an interesting perspective and important insights. Following her study at the Institute, she then worked as a Program Associate for the year of 2011-2012. Raja is passionate about enhancing her understanding of the different dimensions of the Palestinian and Israeli realities and displays bravery in her pursuit.  Her project during her year at the Arava Institute focused on the Bedouin population within the Negev area, in terms of their political situation and their environmental perception within the State of Israel. Currently she is a graduate student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, studying the political history of Israel and the Zionist movement.

The Alumni Conference is Almost Here! 


Don’t forget to register for the Alumni Conference! The conference will be held May 9-11 at the Talitha Kumi guest house in Beit Jala. The conference is fast approaching and registration is closing soon!  Come hear about the work our fabulous alumni are involved in, and network while you do it! The conference will also include opportunities to plan for future projects, as well as activities to help alumni get to know each other.  The cost for the conference is 200 NIS, but scholarships are available.  See you in Beit Jala!  This year’s conference is sponsored by the Miller International Institute of the Rutgers University School of Law.

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Director’s Blog: March 2013

Spring Break

Most of the students and interns are taking advantage of the spring break to head home, travel and visit friends, so the Arava Institute offices and campus are relatively quiet.  This week we are celebrating both the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Christian holiday of Easter. Both holidays highlight the Spring as a time of rebirth and renewal.  Last week’s visit of President Obama has breathed new life into a moribund peace process, offering us a chance to renew our hope in peace and the fulfillment of the promise of the Arab Spring.  As I sit with family, friends and students at our Passover Seder,reading from the Hagada,  I will recall when I was a slave in Egypt and how I was freed but I will also recall President Obama’s words;  ” It’s also a story that holds within it the universal human experience, with all of its suffering, but also all of its salvation.”  I hope everyone has a good break and returns renewed, refreshed and ready to make a difference.

David Lehrer 

Liel Maghen, Arava Institute Alumni,  attends President Obama’s Speech in Jerusalem

2400971439[1]Since President Obama declared that he is going to have a speech in front of Israeli youth in Jerusalem, I knew that it is going to be a remarkable event.  I managed to get a ticket to the speech through the Arava Institute and the NGO Peace Forum. Although my expectations were high, the event still managed to surprise me. After an hour under the sun in the main entrance  and after hours in the second security entrance, I managed to get into the main conference hall. Inside the auditorium was a festive atmosphere.  Students were eating,drinking and singing in the hallways, waiting for the speech to start. Others, were trying to find better seats and some used the opportunity to take a nap or to read another article before class. Together with this festive energy, there was another energy that was very clear. The audience was socially heterogeneous. Just half an hour before the speech, you could see students of different ages and universities, seated in the same row with the US Ambassador or with some ministers that were invited this event. I even saw two students asking two members of the Knesset to change seats because they were seating in their seats.   But nothing could have prepared us for the speech itself. Together with the strong and clear words about the friendships between Israel and the U.S, President Obama managed to focus on three dimensions that are critical to the current situation: security, peace and prosperity. But two things that touched me more than anything, were related to my experience at the Arava Institute. The first was when President Obama talked about justice and asked the audience to imagine themselves as Palestinians. Although at the Arava Institute it is not unusual for students to be asked to try to imagine themselves in the place of the other, I don’t remember any political leader asking Israelis to put themselves into Palestinian shoes and to think about the situation from a universal and just perspective. The second point was when President Obama talked about ways to achieve the reality for which we wish;  “That is where peace begins – not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people; not just in a carefully designed process, but in the daily connections that take place among those who live together in this land”.  No leader has ever told the people who the reality depends on them and not only on the politicians. Through my experience at the institute and through the Arava Alumni Peace and Environmental Network (AAPEN), I understood that people from both sides are waiting too long for their politicians to change reality.  I hope that this speech will make an important impact on people’s hearts and as a result act against  the violence and injustice which the President described in order to achieve the necessary, just and possible peace.

Submitted by Liel Maghen

Ben-Gurion University President Rivka Carmi visits the Arava Institute:

carmi-tor[1]On March 13th, Rivka Carmi, President of Ben-Gurion University, visited the Arava Institute with 18 delegates from her leadership team.  President Carmi was given a tour of the Renewable Energy Research Park with Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, and was then taken to the new student lounge to meet with students and staff from the Institute. There, Executive Director David Lehrer and Academic Director Dr. Elli Groner spoke about the Institute’s academics, and its focus on transboundary issues and peacebuilding.  At that meeting, a Palestinian and Jordanian student spoke about themselves, their decision to come to the Arava Institute, and their future plans. Both students spoke to the challenges of enrolling in an Israeli institute, and how it impacted their families and their future job prospects, but also altered the way they approach communicating with those who are different from them. President Carmi was so moved by the words of these students that she asked every student in the room to stand and introduce themselves. The diversity of our student body, both in their nationalities and their academic interests, was truly revealed to Ms. Carmi at that moment, who congratulated the student body with applause.

Culture Night Spring 2013:

gefendancingRivkajessye dance

It was that time of the semester once again: culture night! Students, staff, and community members gathered to view and participate in nearly twenty student-led presentations on some aspect of their culture. Mujadara, rice crispy treats, and tabouleh prepared by students and staff lined the tables as everyone filed in to eat, drink, and learn about where each other came from.  Gefen, the son of staff member Michelle Shachar, kicked off the night with a round of Capoeira done in tandem with two students.  Student Rivka Shapiro taught the crowd how to make paper snowflakes, representing her hometown in Minnesota which was covered in snow on that day.  As usual: lots of dancing! The Salsa Committee (yes, there is a Salsa Committee on campus!) presented a routine they’d been practicing, and student Jessye Waxman led a short Irish step dancing class. And, in typical Culture Night fashion, a large group danced debkeh around the room.  We also watched presentations on Palestinian culture and costume, listened to Motown music while drinking milkshakes, and were even taught how to speak with a Boston accent. Once culture night had officially ended, an impromptu drum circle broke out, and students could be heard celebrating into the night.

Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

Research Snapshot: The Blueprint Negev Bedouin Project

Laqiya_WoolExecutive Director David Lehrer and Research Assistant Tess Zinnes are researching a policy document that will propose how the needs of the Negev Bedouin can be integrated into the JNF Blue Print Negev fundraising campaign. This study is  funded by the JNF, USA and assesses social service projects within the Bedouin community as well as recommends measures to mitigate tensions between all stakeholders involved. Aiming to evaluate levels of effectiveness as well as propose improvements for overall implementation, the research team will generate a strategy with criteria for future projects. In conjunction, a current first-semester Arava student from Jordan with a background in business, initiated a sub-study seeking to identify the needs of small Bedouin enterprises while evaluating the potential for micro-financing to expand employment opportunities. Over twenty cross-sector interviews contribute to the initiative’s data pool that highlight a strong willingness to create closer collaborations to catalyze change.

Submitted by Tess Anais Zinnes

Alumni Profile: Bart Johnsen-Harris

Bart Johnsen-Harris is a Rhode Island native who graduated from Brown University in spring 2012 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. Merging his interests of the Middle East and environmental issues, he began studying at the Arava Institute this past fall, after completing an intensive Hebrew course at Middlebury College. At the Institute, he took graduate-level courses and engaged in a research project on the Hebron-Besor watershed, a river system which spans from the West Bank, through Israel, and into Gaza. His work ranged from the installation of new monitors in the Hebron River to the analysis and mapping of areas suitable for an artificial catchment to regulate dilution of the stream. Most notably, his successful coursework in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) landed him a job in Amman, Jordan. He currently resides there, working on finding ecosystem service hotspots in Wadi Araba. He designed the methodology for the cross-border Israeli-Jordanian research project and acts as a GIS technician.

Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

AAPEN Announces the 2013 Alumni Conference 

conferenceThe Annual Alumni Conference will be taking place in Beit Jala this year from Thursday, May 9th – Saturday, May 11th, thanks to a great team of alumni organizers from the Arava Alumni Peace and Environmental Network (AAPEN).  The conference will give our accomplished alumni the opportunity to present on their recent work with one another and crowdsource solutions to challenges faced in the process. The agenda also includes a volunteering session with the local community in Beit Jala, open space discussions, and elections for the AAPEN leadership team. The cost is 200 NIS. Alumni are encouraged to attend, and asked to please register as soon as possible, here.

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Director’s Blog: September 2013

We dedicate this month’s Director’s Blog to Mahmud Diab, our friend and Arava Institute Board member who passed away on September 3rd.  Mahmud has served for several years on the Arava Institute’s Board of Directors.  Mahmud Diab was the retired Supervisor for the Arab Sector of the Northern District of the Ministry of Education. In the past Mr. Diab held many positions in the Ministry of Education including adviser to President Yitzhak Navon when Mr. Navon was the Israeli Minister of Education. Mahmud had a close relationship with Yigal Alon and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Mr. Diab also spent part of his career in Tel Sheva, a Bedouin village outside of Beer Sheva where he supervised the Bedouin school system.  Mr. Diab was a true friend and supporter of the Arava Institute, involved in meeting students, helping to recruit Arab Israeli students and supporting the establishment of our Public Council in Israel. He was an example of personal commitment to education and peace. His unique ability to bring people together will be truly missed.  Mr. Diab is survived by his wife Lutfia, four children and grandchildren.  As we move forward we will recall his commitment to the vision of the Arava Institute and draw strength.

Mahmud Diab

The semester has yet to begin and we are already off and running, introducing new staff and MASA students from North America at the Arava Institute, new greywater recycling technology in the Galil and scorpion identification techniques  in the Arava Valley (I guess when you get stung by a scorpion, it is important to know its Latin name).  In addition to the these exciting events, this month the members of Kibbutz Ketura along with family and friends celebrated the Jewish High holidays.  This is traditionally a time for reflection about what was and pondering on what will be.  For the Arava Institute it has been an exciting and sometimes turbulent year.  We are looking forward to the coming year with excitement and high expectations.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Syrian people and all those suffering from oppression, violence and insecurity around the world.  May 5774 finally be the year of peace and sustainability for which we have prayed.

David Lehrer

The Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC) Welcomes a New Director and Lecturer


Dr. Mahmoud Huleihil, the new Director of the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC) at AIES, has taught and researched thermodynamics, passive solar building, and windmill efficiency at Ben-Gurion University. Mahmoud received his B.S.c, M.S.c, and PhD from BGU, with his PhD focusing on optimizing the efficiency of heat engines. Mahmoud has published extensively in Arabic, English, and Hebrew on the issues of efficiency regarding heat and energy transfers in a variety of renewable energy models, and has presented throughout the world on these topics. His teaching experience also includes years of instruction at various Arab high schools throughout Israel,  as well as Beit Berl academic college and the Sami Shamnoon college of Engineering in Ashdod. Mahmoud is originally from Akbara-Safad, Israel, and currently lives with his family in Beer Sheva.


Dr. Hezi Yizhaq, the new CREEC researcher and Lecturer, has a Ph.D in Physics from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He is a researcher at the Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics at the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research in Sede Boker. His research is mainly on mathematical modeling of aeolian sand ripples and sand dunes on Earth (Nahal Kasuy, Nizzana dunes and wind tunnel experiments) and on Mars, dunes mobility under climate change and on modeling of vegetation patterns in water limited systems. Hezi is also a high school physics teacher in the Environmental High School in Midreshet Ben Gurion since 1990. During these years he developed few unique programs like teaching physics by riding a bicycle and using solar energy for cooking.   Hezi has received several awards, including the Excellence physics teacher in Israel for 2011 and Distinguished Fulbright Awards in teaching in 2012.  He is also an enthusiastic mountain rider who led expeditions at most of the world’s deserts (including the Tibetan Plateau and Namib desert). Hezi was born in Bat Yam and moved to Midreshet Ben Gurion in 1990. He currently resides there with his wife and three children. At AIES Hezi will teach the course Environmental Science and will work on research in renewable energy and on aeolian geomorphology at Nahal Kasuy and Samar dunes. More information and some of his publications can be found in

5 Students and Interns on MASA Scholarship Arrive to Institute

photo (1)

“Efshar melech?” Natasha asked for salt in Hebrew, as we

sat for an interview over lunch. Natasha is one of five participants of the MASA scholarship program, who arrived two weeks before the semester to learn Hebrew. The scholarship requires participants to take 60 hours of Hebrew class during their stay in Israel, and the program at AIES allows participants to attend seminars on this month’s Jewish holidays and speak with local re

sidents about kibbutz life.

Natasha, 23, arrived last week to the kibbutz from Atlanta, Georgia. After studying international politics and Jewish studies, Natasha has come to intern with Clive Lipchin, as well as assisting in the Environmental Ethics class. When asked about the MASA program, Natasha explained, “David (their Hebrew teacher) challenges us individually, at each of our own levels. We are progressing quite rapidly.” Natasha said the hardest thing about learning Hebrew is being patient and trying not to rush it. This is particularly hard with six hours of lessons each day. Natasha continued, “the most satisfying part of Ulpan is that it enabled me to be confident speaking Hebrew; I’ve been able to communicate with people on the kibbutz.” To finish the interview, I asked Natasha for the highlight of her first week and she quickly responded, “the moonlight hike.” For Natasha, the MASA program as a whole has helped make the transition to Israel easier, and has allowed her to get to know her peers, the language, and the kibbutz on an intimate level. “It’s a great step one!” Submitted by Aviva Gottesman

AIES Center for Long Term Socio-Ecological Research Attends Scorpion Workshop:


This month, Elli Groner and his research intern Tara Gron attended a four day scorpion workshop held by the Israel Taxonomic Initiative (ITI) in the Sde Boker campus of Ben-Gurion University. The instructor, Lorenzo Prenini, is a curator and professor at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. There were twenty students in the class who represented a wide range of professional backgrounds. Lectures consumed the days and excursions around the region filled the evenings as the class hunted with UV flashlights to find these nocturnal species. Elli and Tara learned how to comprehensively identify the 19 scorpion species of Israel and the 10 species that are specialized to the desert and Arava valley. Tara will incorporate this new skill set in multiple ongoing and future projects regarding the food webs of hyper-arid desert ecosystems. Submitted by Tara Gron

 Meet Our New Program Associates!

Program Associates (PAs) are a central part of the Campus Life experience for students and interns, doing everything from developing programming to conflict mediation. PAs serve for one year as part of the Institute staff, living among the students and interns. Meet our motivated and impressive PAs, Asem Magableh and Aviva Gottesman, who just arrived!

AvivaMy name is Aviva Gottesman, I am from the United States, specifically from Vermont. I just completed a B.Sc. in Natural Resources with a focus in Community-Based Resource Management from the University of Vermont. This degree allowed me to spend my junior year at the Arava Institute, creating a unique, trans-boundary, inter-disciplinary undergraduate education. Whether studying forests or deserts, I enjoy understanding the ecology around me. Besides ecological relationships, as a Program Associate I have the opportunity to help support campus relationships. I am excited to return to the Arava Institute to continue to navigate the challenges of politics, environment, and spirituality; and to build a community of change-makers from every corner of the world. Some programs I am interested in sharing with the campus community: poetry, improvisation, yoga, hiking, and art.

AsemHi my name is Asem Magableh and I am 26 years old, from Jordan.  I was a student at the Arava Institute two years ago and then came back as an intern for the Center for Long Term Socio- Ecological Research. My time at the institute has allowed me to develop educationally, academically and socially. I am excited to be a Program Associate this year and to be part of a cooperative community that brings students from different cultures to study and live together so that we can learn to understand each other through peace building and environmental cooperation.

 Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

New Greywater System Established at the Towns Association for Environmental Quality at Sakhnin in the Galil by the AIES Center for Trans-boundary Water Management (CTWM)

The second Greywater treatment system has been successfully implemented in Sakhnin by the Towns  Association for Environmental Quality (TAEQ). This is the first of six USAID funded systems which will be implemented as part of the Mitigating Trans-boundary Wastewater Conflict project. Following the successful implementation, the CTWM team had a very fruitful meeting with the Palestinian project partner; the House of Water and Environment, from Ramallah and Engineer Shlomo Kimchie. They were all hosted by the TAEQ staff. The meeting allowed for a very productive conversation regarding the design of the subsequent systems and further understanding of the unique, appropriate system design developed by the project. In Sakhnin two alternative treatment models will be studied, compared and evaluated. After a year and a half of USAID funded transboundary wastewater workshops, the project has now moved into the implementation phase. Six greywater systems will be built, four in Palestine and two in Israel. The project team is working hard towards the detailed household design of the next system in Halhul, Hebron region. We look forward to continued implementation in the Nablus and Hebron regions. Submitted by Shira Kronich

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Arava Institute Director’s Blog – February 2013

Welcome, Spring 2013 Students!

students desert walkThis month we welcomed an extraordinary group of 40 new students and interns to our campus community. I can speak on behalf of the entire staff here at the institute when I say that these bright, enthusiastic students bring us high hopes for this semester – one full of hard, valuable work and meaningful diaglogue and trust-building. The students have already begun their classes in subjects like Ecohealth, Water Resources in the Middle East, and Environmental Ethics. They’ve also kicked off their semester by participating in a soccer tournament, several socials, current affairs discussions, film screenings, yoga classes, and communal dinners. Many thanks are in order to our Campus Life team for making such a smooth transition possible for these new students.

David Lehrer

US Ambassador Visits the Arava Institute on Renewable Energy Trip

Uri with AmbassadorWe were honored to briefly host the American Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, who visited Kibbutz Ketura, the Arava Power Company, and the Arava Institute this month. The trip was intended to explore and acknowledge the strides in renewable energy development in the region, including the research  and education programs conducted by AIES. Ambassador Shapiro received a presentation of the Validation Center inside the Arava Institute’s Research and Visitors Park in memory of Dr. Eugen Fischel and Dina Markowicz, by one of our Masters students, who also spoke to the Ambassador about his own research. The Ambassador continues to be very supportive of AIES, and even called himself a “fan”of the institute. 
A full summary of the visit can be read in this article featured in the Jerusalem Post.

Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

Congratulations and Farewell to Masters Student Bara Wahbeh

Bara and TareqA heartfelt congratulations goes out to Bara Wahbeh, who successfully defended his Masters thesis this month at Ben-Gurion University. The research, titled “Hydrogen Production via Boron Hydrolysis by Thermochemical Cycles” was conducted under the guidance of Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, the Director of the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation at the Arava Institute. The research simulates hydrogen production in a car by reacting steam with boron particles, which produces hydrogen gas and yields no greenhouse gases. Bara’s next step will be to pursue the creation of a prototype for this research, with eventual goals of putting the technology on the market. Bara was given exceedingly high marks for his defense, to virtually no one’s surprise at the institute.  Bara has been an integral part of our community for several years now,  and we are of course sad to see him go. But we have the utmost confidence in his success as a scientist, a businessman, and a changemaker, and are excited to watch his plans unfold.

Submitted by Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed and Kayla Santosuosso

A New Student Lounge Debuts on Campus 

Students in LoungeThe campus welcomed the opening of a new student lounge this semester!The lounge was designed by a team of staff members, who envisioned it as a multipurpose space. The aim was to meet the various needs of all members of the campus community, meaning everything from facilitating study groups and lectures, to encouraging quiet reflection time and small social gatherings. In the lounge there is a kitchen, a dining area, a lounge with couches and a television, as well as a small “cyber café”, where students and interns can surf the internet in a quiet space. A visitor to the student lounge can at once see students debating environmental ethics, skyping with their families, and painting signs for the new compost areas. The student life team hosted campus life meetings, as well as icebreakers, film screenings and a session learning about sustainable living at the Arava Institute.The lounge has also served as an ideal space for weekly Current Affairs sessions during which participants engage in exploration and debate of the world’s recent events.  We are grateful to the JNF USA and Danielle and Irving Grossman, whose generous support made this lounge possible.

Submitted by Abra Berkowitz 

Alumni Gathering Held in Sakhnin

alumni gathering girlsLast month, about 40 members of the Arava Alumni Peace & Environment Network  (AAPEN) gathered at the beautiful and unique sustainable building of the Townships Association for Environmental Quality (TAEQ) in the Arab town of Sakhnin, Israel. This gathering was a part of an ongoing intention to meet every month or so, and to strengthen the connections within AAPEN. The gathering allowed alumni from various years to get to know each other, and to hear about different initiatives and projects that are being held throughout the Middle-East. During the weekend, we got to learn about environmental issues of Sakhnin’s area, to discuss AAPEN issues, and even plant some trees on the building’s grounds.  We would like to thank Dr. Hussein Tarabiye, TAEQ manager, who invited AAPEN members, and who helped us with organizing the successful gathering.  TAEQ is the Arava Institute’s partner in the USAID sponsored YEEPI project. We hope many more gatherings will take place, in Israel, Jordan and Palestine, as they continue to remind us that maintaining our connection as alumni is very much possible, despite political barriers and borders.

Submitted by members of AAPEN

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Arava Institute Director’s Blog: January 2013

The fall semester 2012 has come to a close at the Arava Institute, as we said goodbye to yet another group of courageous young environmental leaders. January brought us final exams, graduation, presentations of final research, and a farewell party. I would like to thank the students, faculty and staff for yet another successful semester, and am looking forward to meeting the next group of students come February.

David Lehrer

AIES Night for Fall 2012 Students

AIES students got the opportunity to present their semester-long research projects to felloomarw students and staff at AIES Night. Always a highlight of the semester, the night is part academic, part celebratory, as the students and staff get to see their hard work finally come to fruition. This semester’s slate of research was extraordinary and especially diverse. Examples of projects include: Open Public Spaces in Eilat, Water and Wastewater Use in the West Bank, the Domestication of Wild Plant Species, and Effective Bedouin Integration in Space Planning. The research was the product of an Independent Study course lead by Dr. Ilan Stavi, and each student was paired with an advisor who guided them on a specific research venture. As usual, our staff was extremely proud of the students for their hard work. And, as a true testament to the power of the AIES community, we were thrilled to see that many members of Kibbutz Ketura also attended the presentation to learn from and support the students’ work. Congratulations, students! Submitted by Cathie Granit and Kayla Santosuosso

The Launch of the Public Council for the Arava Institute in Israel

On Friday, January 11th, at the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv, the inaugural meeting of the Public Council for the Arava Institute was held.  The purpose of the Public Council is to raise awareness of the work of the Arava Institute in Israel and to increase financial resources from Israeli sources. Over 70 people attended the launch, including,  former member of Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) Yael Dayan, the Israeli Ambassador to Jordan, Daniel Nevo, and Israeli actress, Karen Mor.  To help get the Public Council off the ground, we invited TIMG_0558zipi Livni, the head of the Tnuah (Movement Party) who is running in the Israeli elections for the Parliament.  Ms. Livni had come directly from a debate held that morning at an Israeli high school in Rehovot where the atmosphere was negative and depressing.  The students shouted down Ms. Livni’s message of a need for a political settlement with cries of “there is no partner!” accompanied by cheering and clapping.   Ms. Livni entered the Peres Center for Peace, clearly shaken and distracted.  We moved into the small room where Ms. Livni and others would speak.  The program was hosted by former Ambassador to France, Daniel Shek , the Chair of the new Public Council.  The first speaker was Professor Alon Tal, founder of the Arava Institute who gave an historical perspective and talked about the institute’s achievements.  Then two alumni stood up to speak, an Israeli alumna who studied at the institute in 2006 and a Palestinian woman who studied with us in 2011. The Israeli woman spoke about the impact that the institute has had on her life and the Palestinian alumna spoke about her interest in Israel and learning more about the “other”.  Both women passionately described their transformational experiences at the Arava Institute.  Then Tzipi Livni stood up and it was obvious that something had happened to her in the very short time since she had walked into the Peres Center, distracted and upset.  Tzipi told the audience about the morning event at the Israeli High School in Rehovot, how depressing it was and how upset it had made her, but how sitting in the Peres Center, listening to the Arava Institute alumni, had lifted a burden from her chest.  With just a few simple words from our alumni about their experiences at the institute and their own vision of a better world, hope and a belief in the possibility of peace had returned to Ms. Livni.  We believe that this message of hope that was rekindled in Tzipi Livni by our alumni will be passed on to other leaders in Israel and throughout the Middle East.   As the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arava Institute, Professor Yacov Karni said in his closing speech, we must never give up on our beliefs and our hope.

Alumni Profile: Lindsey ZemlerLindsey

Lindsey grew up in Boulder, Colorado in a home in the mountains. Hiking, nature, yoga, and stories have always been part of her life and currently she loves traveling, learning about culture, and contributing to sustainable communities. At the University of Colorado she studied English Literature, Political Science and Jewish Studies and had leadership involvement with a local sustainable food group and Alternative Spring Breaks. As a junior she studied abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem studying the Middle East and Hebrew.

After graduating from college Lindsey spent two years with the Arava Institute, first as the Alumni Projects Intern and then as a Program Associate. Her involvement with AIES, the kibbutz community and the region was influential and a deep learning experience. Most recently Lindsey has been living in Northern California working on the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival as the Festival Assistant. Beginning this February she will be an intern at Neve Shalom Wahat-al-Salaam working in the development department. Submitted by Cathie Granit

Intern Profile: Kayla Santosuosso

KaylaKayla Santosuosso, the new Administrative Assistant, joined the team at the Arava Institute this month. Kayla holds a B.A. in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from New York University with a focus in Arabic. During her time in NYC Kayla worked for the NYU Office of Sustainability, helped to run several food co-ops, and interned for the Arab American Association of New York. Though she’ll certainly be missing her city life, Kayla is transitioning into Ketura smoothly—using her free time to brush up on her Arabic, hike the mountains behind the institute, write, shoot pool, and travel. Kayla aims to be a US Foreign Service Officer in the Middle East, particularly within the area of environmental conflict resolution. She is thrilled to be at Arava, and feels very fortunate to work with such a talented, passionate group of students and staff.

AIES Student Achievements:

The Institute is proud to announce three significant student achievements this month.

BrianLeilaLeila Hashweh and Brian Hoefgen have both been accepted to pursue their Masters at Ben-Gurion University. The programs will take place at the Albert Katz International School, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at the Sde Boqer Campus of BGU.

Leila has been accepted to the M.Sc. program in Hydrology and Water Quality, specializing in Water Resources under the supervision of  Professor Eilon Adar (BGU) and Dr. Clive Lipchin (AIES). Leila will work on the Habsor watershed taking an interdisciplinary approach to water management.

Brian has been accepted to the M.Sc. program in Desert studies, specializing in water irrigation and soil under the supervision of Dr. Shimon Rachmilevits (BGU). Brian will work on the agriculture of vines.

GrAbraaduate student and Program Associate Abra Berkowitz successfully defended her Master’s thesis this month. Abra used qualitative methods and recent planning theories to examine the Abu-Basma Regional Council, a new Bedouin municipality established to plan 13 formerly unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev. She plans to enjoy the coming semester at the Arava, and then go in search of a PhD.

Submitted by Elli Groner

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