Spinning Across Israel for the Environment

"Hey, what's the view like from your camel?," cyclists probably asked when they sped across the country on a mission for the environment. With some effort, and with a bike instead of a camel, one can cycle from Jerusalem in the center of the country to its most southern tip in Eilat. That's just what 125 cyclists did this month in the name of the environment at the Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride. Their goal is to have the funds to train the next generation of environment ministers in the middle east and beyond, and of course, to make the world a greener place. Headed by environmental institute Arava and led by environmental lobbyists such as former American Alon Tal, the tour stopped by some of Israel's environmental treasures and disasters and riders managed to raise $500 thousand for the center. They took a break at Ashkelon's desalination plant and stopped by a green wastewater treatment plant; they also saw the plight of some of the once-nomadic Bedouin people who burn their garbage for lack of proper disposal. See full story.

Starting in the Old City of Jerusalem, the group made a 6-day and 290 mile journey to the Arava Institute in the south. It is the fourth such ride.

The Arava (which will be blogged about later) has a mission with two goals- it works to mold young adults into environmentalists and also works to train young Jordanians, Palestinians and North Americans to be the next generation environment ministers.

Peddling for the environment was recounted personally by one cyclist, Rabbi Bob Freedman from Vermont. He told the Rutland Herald: "There is a passage in Leviticus that says, 'The land is not yours. You are only stewards,' which means we are responsible for keeping the land," Freedman said..."In other words, if we don't take care of the ecology, we'll die. They knew this 2,000 years ago and with global warming and overgrazing, people are learning it now."

The Arava Institute lies close to the border of Jordan and Egypt and the Gulf of Aqaba. It hopes peace will come about by getting different cultures of the world to invest energy in something other than politics.