Israeli Water: Innovations and Challenges in 7 Videos (Blog Action Day 2010)

October 16, 2010

No issue is more critical in the Middle East than water. But what does that really mean? Water is a transboundary issue that affects the environment, geopolitics, social, and health concerns.

Today is Blog Action Day for the environment and this year’s theme is water. I’m on a quest to learn more- even if it only means bolstering my knowledge incrementally- and I’m happy to take you along for the ride.

Water and the environment are a vital issue. But where to begin? I decided to consult the experts using videos from Israeli universities, the Jewish National Fund, Israel21C, and more. I encourage you to post your own links in the comments section so that we can learn from each other.

Post Preview

Here’s how this post is organized.

  1. Introduction: Get acquainted with the issue of innovative water technologies in Israel and overview of the challenges we face
  2. Best Practices:  Meet students and alumni from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies who are becoming global scientific ambassadors on water-related issues
  3. Next Steps: Learn from a case study in the Bedouin community of Um Batin. One of Israel’s next steps in water management is in bringing basic resources to all the citizens of the nation

Innovations in Israeli Water Technology

Straight from Israel’s new YouTube channel comes this overview of Israeli water technology that focuses on Israel’s role as a scientific ambassador to governments around the world. It additionally covers:

  • Water purification, desalination, and reclamation
  • Drip irrigation as a technique to maximize crop yields while simultaneously decreasing water usage

— Read on to learn more —

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Jewish/Israel News: All the News That’s Fit to Tweet

October 21, 2009
Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

The air is popping, molecules are dancing, you can practically feel the crackle in the air– alive with energy in the world of Jewish philanthropy and innovation. The New Jew is here to bring you the news that can’t be missed.


  • Israel President’s Conference— Today is the first day of the 2nd annual President’s Conference, founded by President Shimon Peres. This year’s theme is “Tomorrow’s Future.” To get live updates on Twitter, click on this link where I have collected all the relevant resources for you

(Flickr photo link via Just.Luc, Creative Commons)

In the Media


  • Free Press Index— Israel’s Free Press Rank plummets on Reporters Without Borders’ index due to tightened government control over the media during Operation Cast Lead (Gaza 2008/2009) and during the elections. Israel dropped 43 places to #93. (The US is #20, up from #40 last year)
  • Human Rights Watch: Anti-Israel— In this New York Times op-ed, Robert L. Bernstein, former chairman of HRW criticizes the group for repeatedly singling out Israel for human rights violations without holding other Middle Eastern countries to equivalent standards
  • Shalom, Al Jazeera— An Egyptian newspaper broke the story that Israeli billionaire Haim Saban was set to acquire the Arab world’s news station. The story is yet unconfirmed
  • Palestinian Jews? It’s not Pre-State Deja Vu— The Wall Street Journal’s James Woolsey asks if we have Israeli Arabs why can’t there by Palestinian Jews?
  • Our Israel? — A raging debate between The Forward’s Jay Michaelson and the Shalem Center’s Daniel Gordis centers on the question of how we perceive Israel as a Jewish state and as our state. Michaelson complains: “My love of Israel has turned into a series of equivocations,” in reference to his stance toward Israeli politics, peace, and Palestinians. Gordis counters, “But you know what I love about this place, Jay?  I love that all the political baggage is mine.” (Don’t forget to read the comments as well)

Jewish Connectivity


  • Assessing Birthright Israel— It’s been 10 years. Where does Taglit-Birthright Israel stand after a decade of hard work? Here are the statistics: Birthright has brought 200,000 young Jews to Israel so far– 10,000 will come this winter. Philanthropic  dollars: $80 million raised: 55% from individuals; 22% from Jewish communities and the Jewish Agency; 23% from the Israeli government

— Interested in Jewish Connectivity, Israeli Technology & the Environment, Israel’s Economy & the Jewish Community Landscape, Innovation & Education? Read on. —

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Caring About the Environment, Jewishly (Blog Action Day 2009)

October 15, 2009


How do we live as Jews, caring consciously and spiritually about the environment? I’ve done a lot of thinking about this matter, but the best speech that I ever heard on it was a presentation given at the 2009 ROI Summit.

The presenters have kindly agreed to share their speech with you on caring about the environment and living a Jewish life.

This post is an entry for Blog Action Day 2009.  (Check out the blog, and find them on Twitter at @blogactionday and with the hashtag #BAD09.)

The Speech

Presenters:  Karin Fleisch, Vivian Lehrer, and Anthony Rogers-Wright.

Karin Fleisch:

TNJ_ROI.KarinFleisch.JAFI_15Oct09“Environmentalism just makes sense. We all live on this planet and need its resources to thrive and survive. As Jews, environmentalism is rooted in our history, our religion, and our values.

Climate change, over-consumption, mass species extinction — these are happening now. And it’s not just about the Earth anymore. It’s about preventing massive…human…suffering.

Vivian Lehrer:


But it’s going to be alright – probably – IF we adapt, as we are so good at doing. We already have all the solutions we need to make significant change.

We need to stop thinking of Jewish environmentalism as a separate category and focus on creating a healthier world for all – because, in the process, we’re going to strengthen Jewish communities and identity.

The Jewish imperative for environmentalism isn’t marginal – it’s our most core, mainstream and familiar values and traditions.

Shabbat– is an ecological treasure! A day to rest from shopping, manufacturing, driving!

Kashrut (keeping Kosher)- the idea that what we eat matters, that it’s upon us to minimize suffering of animals! We need to update this to take responsibility for the full impacts of what we eat, the stuff we buy, and what we put into landfills. We vote with our dollars and with our forks for the full story of our food and our stuff.

Brachot (the blessings over our food)– invite mindfulness of where our food comes from. To bless food we have to figure out whether it grew from the ground or a tree; from there it’s a short step to thinking of how it was raised, whether the people involved in getting it to us were paid a fair wage, whether its story helped or hurt our environment.

— Keep reading for a list of Jewish environmental organizations —

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Israeli Environment: New Mall Seeks to Green the Negev

July 7, 2009

New B"S Mall [Image: YNetNews]

“The Future of Israel lies in the Negev.”
~ David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel

If you aren’t intimately familiar with Israel, you may not realize that the country is divided into two cultural and geographical spheres: the Center and the Periphery.

The Center, composed of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and their environs, are densely populated hubs of activity. The Periphery: the Galilee, Golan Heights, and Negev Desert, are more agricultural areas outside of the Center’s reach. This segmentation is critical to understanding the Israeli mindset when it comes to how we perceive each other.

Today YNet News broke the story that Be’er Sheva is set to become home to Israel’s largest mall. With a projected budget of 700 million NIS (approx. $180.5 million) and a three-year timeframe, the mall aims to be not only a commercial center, but a nexus of social activity. Upon its completion, the mall will house clubs for youths, seniors, soldiers, and feature a children’s play area.

Additionally, the new center will be the first green mall in Israel with the following environmental considerations:

  • Solar paneling on the roof for energy conversion
  • Pools for collecting rain water and condensation from air conditioning to be reused for irrigation
  • Green park to be built near mall with connecting bicycle paths around the mall’s periphery

—– Read more about the mall’s environmental impact and plans for Be’er Sheva’s development—–

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Shifting Speeds: Israel Government Invests in Cycling Programs for Sake of Environment

December 25, 2007


In a turn of wheel, the Israeli government announced last week that they were investing $12.6 million of the 2008 budget in bicycling programs. The new biking programs will emphasize cycling as an important means of transportation that will be good for the environment and for our wallets.

Its first initiative will be the construction of a 13.5 mile bike path along the Tel Aviv- Netanya highway to promote biking as recreation. The Transportation Ministry will also support municipalities in creating cycling infrastructure and in helping more of their citizens to put pedal to pavement.

I know it’s one of my goals for 2008 to get on a bike and explore more of Israel, so I was excited to hear this news.

Critical Mass: Monthly Bike Rides from Tel Aviv

With thoughts of the new cycling programs on my mind, I was pleasantly surprised to receive word that Israel will be joining Critical Mass for this first time this December, a monthly bike ride for recreational riders that is enjoyed in over 300 cities worldwide.

It is not a product of the government’s new campaign, but one that will complement it nicely.

Critical Mass describes themselves as follows:

“Everyday, all over the world, people are resisting the problem culture of the car by getting on their bikes and riding, instead of driving. Critical Mass is a celebration of the alternatives to cars, pollution, accidents and the loss of public spaces and freedoms. Not an organization or group, but an idea or tactic, Critical Mass allows people to reclaim cities with their bikes, just by getting together and out-numbering the cars on the road.”

Stating their goals, they say:


  • We ride because bicycles don’t pollute, don’t make noise, and don’t kill
  • We ride because we are happy…
  • We ride to set the ground for changes in municipal policy
  • We ride to remind people that we exist, and form an integral part of city life
  • We ride to meet each other, chat about bikes and life, and strengthen our own community
  • But most of all, we ride because it is super fun to ride as a group. The more people, the more fun

Israel’s first ride will leave from Rabin Square in Tel Aviv at 13:30 on Friday, December 28th. Future rides will take place on the last Friday of every month.

Go to the website (in Hebrew and English) or contact the organizer for more information:

Photo by Kris Cohen



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Charles Bronfman Prize for Humanitarian Action: Seeking a Better World

November 15, 2007


Charles Bronfman is a man with a vision. He seeks to improve the world through social action and community innovation.

We already know about the Jewish innovation contest at Brandeis, but do you know about the Charles Bronfman Prize for humanitarianism?

About the Prize

CharlesBronfmanThe Charles Bronfman Prize for humanitarian action is seeking nominations for 2008 from those whose “Jewish values infuse their humanitarian accomplishments.”

Eligible candidates will be individuals or teams under age 50 who have significantly contributed to the betterment of the world through science, technology, art, culture, education, and global citizenship.

In the four years since its inception, the Charles Bronfman Prize has recognized three outstanding individuals in the fields of medicine and the environment. Read about them below.

The Prize, whose nomination deadline is November 30th, is $100,000.

Who Could You Nominate?

In my work as an activist and professional in the Jewish and nonprofit worlds, I have met people doing some amazing work.

As you read about the prize recipients in the sections that follow, I encourage you to think about who you could nominate. Who do you know who is significantly impacting the world around them? (Nomination forms are available on the Prize’s website.)

I look forward to hearing who is on your mind.

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Israel Biggest Polluter in Eastern Mediterranean

October 23, 2007


Halloween has come early to Israel this year. Have I got scary news for you– Israel is the biggest polluter in the eastern Mediterranean.

Israel Fails on Marine Report Card

Zalul, one of Israel’s leading environmental organizations, reports in State of the Sea 2007 that over 100 permits for discharging waste in coastal waters are granted annually, with special leniency given to major companies.

The study states: “The Permit Committee for discharges to the sea, operating in the framework of Government ministries, is one of the main causes of the pollution, by granting permits for the discharge of industrial and municipal wastewater to the sea,” calling for “urgent action to prevent an ecological disaster along Israel’s coastline” (p. 8).

As a dubious distinction, Tel Aviv has been cited by the United Nations as one of the 10 worst urban polluters in the Mediterranean.

Ministry of Environmental Protection: “Israel’s Coasts are Clean or Very Clean”

TA Beach

I have to say that I am confused by the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s claim that Israel’s coasts are “clean or very clean” (Oct. 2007). What are we supposed to do with this mis/information after Zalul’s findings? We can say with surety that one of these organizations is way off base.

The Ministry’s report states that: “No areas were classified as ‘dirty’ or ‘very dirty,'” making me think they need to clean their test tubes and start again. I don’t know what to think of this clearly fallacious report, so I’ve given you the link and will leave it at that.

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