The Haaretz article published in Hebrew on October 31st and then published in English on November 1st, gives the incorrect impression that the Arava Institute is about to close its doors due to financial troubles. Let me be very clear. The Arava Institute is not closing!

The Arava Institute continues to be the premier environmental academic and research institute in the Middle East, which brings Jews and Arabs together in order to find solutions to the global environmental challenges and teach them that truly, nature knows no borders. Our academic program, which is accredited by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, continues to bring Israelis; Jews and Arabs, Palestinians, Jordanians and international students to study together in the most exceptional learning program in the Middle East.

Our cutting edge research centers in trans-boundary water management, nature conservation, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture provide important contributions to the ongoing dialogue of how to make our planet more sustainable. The Arava Institute alumni have created an alumni organization that is breaking down the walls that divide people in the region by building bridges of trust and cooperation around common environmental concerns.

While the title of the Haaretz article was misleading, the article itself was highly complimentary of the institute and the role we play in environmental peacemaking in the Middle East. I am honored that a national newspaper like Haaretz is concerned about our future and it was truly heartwarming to receive all of those messages of concern and support from all of you.

The truth is that the world economic slowdown, especially in the United States, has impacted the institute along with many other non-profit organizations in Israel and around the world. The good news is that the financial concerns have energized our US Friends of the Arava Institute Board and the Arava Institute Board in Israel.

David Lehrer
Executive Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies