Building a Networks of Trust and Cooperation: Arava Institute
of Environmental Studies in Southern Israel�s Negev Desert
By Alan Manheim
KETURA KIBBUTZ IN ISRAEL�S SOUTHERN DESERT IS HOT, DRY AND ISOLATED
It was incongruous. The meeting was held in a beautiful apartment overlooking New York Harbor, water views everywhere. The occasion was to hear about the amazing work of the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies (AIES). The institute, located at Ketura kibbutz, in the Arava Desert (part of the Negev) in southern Israel is hot, dry and isolated.
The get together was organized by Professor Mehnaz Afridi, of Manhattan College, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Arava. The gracious hosts were Martin Spit and his wife Leili Rasouli. Professor Afridi�s purpose for organizing the meeting was to raise awareness and support for the unique mission of the institute.
STUDENTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD COME TOGETHER
Jordanian, Palestinian, Israeli, and other students from around the world come together to build networks of trust and cooperation. Trust and cooperation between the people of the region may bring practical solutions to solve complex environmental problems.
Dr. Afridi, a Muslim woman, is the director of the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Center of Manhattan College. She sees AIES as a powerful force for peace in the region. Muslims, Jews, Arabs and Israelis working together to solve serious problems can only help the process of peace.
Dr Tareq Abu-Hamed, a Muslim as well, the Director of the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation, at AIES was present and gave a talk describing some of the activities and aims of the institute. Dr. Abu-Hamed was born in Bethlehem and holds a PhD degree from Ankara University in Turkey.
STUDENTS MAINTAIN A RIGOROUS COURSE- LOAD IN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
He also did post doctoral work at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. AIES is under the auspices of Ben-Gurion University, and courses in various aspects of environmental science are taught by their faculty members. Students maintain a rigorous course-load in environmental studies including environmental ethics, policy and economics, ecology, and sustainability.
They also participate in a weekly peace-building and leadership seminar where they engage in dialog with one another focusing on issues of coexistence, tolerance, and communication. Projects on solar energy, water management, dust and heat reduction for solar panels, and an amazing description of a possible break through in developing a hydrogen powered car were highlighted by Dr. Abu-Hamed.
AMERICAN STUDENTS FORGE FRIENDSHIPS WITH THEIR FELLOW MUSLIM, PALESTINIAN AND JORDANIAN STUDENTS
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