On Monday, Michigan State University will host two alumni of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies for a discussion on bridging the conflict and the creation of cooperation through dialogue.
The event is part of the Institute’s continuing “Dialogue Project” and will focus on the stories of speakers Eve Tendler, an Israeli from Tel Aviv, and Shadi Shiha, a Palestinian raised in Jordan.
The Arava Institute was founded on the notion that environmental issues in the region impact everyone, no matter their ethnicity, race, or political opinion. Both Tendler and Shiha embody this principle and they provide a voice for the Institute as ambassadors on college campuses in the U.S.
Instead of lecturing on environmental science, both alums can speak to a young audience and relate to people through their separate stories and their shared narrative. The idea to reach people through communication is what Tendler and Shiha have set out to do as one of the defining initiatives of the Institute is to raise awareness of environmental cooperation and open communication between Israel, Palestine, and the surrounding region.
Tendler and Shiha are perfect candidates to champion the idea of open dialogue, as both alums illustrate a radically different upbringing in the region and yet, they have become friends and both strive for finding environmental cooperation between Israel, Palestine, and the surrounding region.
Tendler was born and raised in a fairly pro-Israel family. She grew up in a community of Zionists but was able to broaden her understanding of the region’s conflict and environmental issues through her experience at the Institute. After participating in multiple group research projects and living and working alongside Palestinians, Tendler began to see the need for dialogue in the conflict.
Born in Amman, Jordan, Shiha was raised by Palestinian refugee parents. Not only is Shiha passionate about water issues in Jordan, he is a dance teacher in refugee camps and has a varied background that he can speak to, as he shares his story of growing up in a Palestinian family and deciding to attend the Institute in Israel.
As they speak at various U.S. college campuses, Tendler and Shiha tell their story and promote the notion of open dialogue in the region and the powerful need for cooperation in relation to the environment.
In an interview with The State News, university relations manager for the Arava Institute’s Massachusetts-based non-profit branch, Friends of the Arava Institute stated:
Things like clean water, clean air, renewable energy — they’re issues that transcend the politics of the region, that doesn’t matter if you’re Israeli or Palestinian or if you’re Jordanian…You need to live in a healthy and clean environment or the rest of it doesn’t really matter. So we were founded on the idea that we should bring people together over this common interest and use that mechanism to bring people together and build relationships and work on other issues as well.
Photo Credit: Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
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