In the Israeli Desert, a Modest Effort to Build an Environment for Peace

In an Israeli Desert, a Modest Effort to Build an Environment for Peace 1

Maya Levin for The Chronicle

"The peace-building stuff is not our business," says David Lehrer, director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. "It's the way we do business, but the business we're in is the environment."

Deep in a desert in southern Israel, more than a hundred miles from the nearest city, a tiny academic flower is growing.

The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is a small place with big ambitions: to help end the conflict between Israelis and Arabs by training a new generation of engineers and activists who will find solutions for problems like water scarcity and the need for renewable energy—issues that transcend the political boundaries in the Middle