We woke up at Kibbutz Ketura and wandered just a few hundred feet to the offices (in the old turkey house) of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. First, we got a tour thanks to Tamar Norkin, an intern from the U.S., and then afterwards, we learned about the philosophy and programs from executive director David Lehrer. If Lotan takes a creative, hands-on approach to permaculture and ecological literacy, then Arava offers an intellectually focused program of university-level studies.
The Institute also brings together students from a range of often conflicting demographics: Israeli Jews, international students, Palestinians, Jordanians. As Lehrer told us, after the recent flotilla incident, the Arava Instiute was likely one of the only places where Israeli Jews and Palestinians were in the same room communicating with each other—they may have been shouting at times, but at least they were communicating.
That afternoon, we had an illuminating discussion with Uri Gordon, author of Anarchy Alive!, who teaches environmental politics and other courses at the Arava Institute. I was especially interested in his opinions (which he nearly did his PhD on, until he decided to focus on contemporary anarchism) about how A.D. Gordon, the intellectual godfather of the kibbutz movement, was also a forerunner of modern environmental thought.