Israeli bike ride promotes cooperation

abe rosin rest stopAbe Rosin saw a different side of Israel by bicycling 250 miles from Jerusalem to Eilat, Nov. 5 to 12. The retired engineer and dual American/Israeli citizen made aliyah in 1976 and lived in Israel for 20 years before moving to Tucson in 1999.

“I’ve been an athlete all my life,” Rosin, 70, told the AJP, “but I only took up serious biking a year ago.” He joined 164 other riders — most of whom were Americans — who left from Jerusalem on the Arava Institute and Hazon Israel Ride.

In Israel, “I lived in Haifa,” says Rosin. “My travels were more in the northern part of the country. I never really saw in detail Jerusalem to Eilat. The beauty of the Israeli desert spring Ein Avdat, surrounded by high cliffs was most impressive.” Rosin also enjoyed Makhtesh Ramon, which most people think is a crater but is actually a valley surrounded by steep walls located at the peak of Mount Negev.

“Not only was the ride fun and scenic,” says Rosin, but the group heard the history of the places they passed from their Israeli guide.  “I also learned a lot about the Arava Institute. We stayed at Kibbutz Ketura, the institute’s home, where we had a chance to talk with students and past graduates. I met students from the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon, as well as from Israel. The institute is affiliated with Ben-Gurion University and has both undergraduate and graduate students. The institute’s goal is to use the world’s environmental resource challenges to build dialogue, cooperation and trust among people and, in doing so, create a catalyst for peace.”

Today Arava’s alumni are working across the Middle East, North America and around the world, notes Rosin. “Many have pursued advanced degrees, launched cross-border initiatives, formed nongovernmental organizations, or are in positions that draw on their ability to work cooperatively and address shared environmental concerns.”

Hazon is known in the United States and Israel for its promotion of healthier and more sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond.

“I spent my career working for the Israel Department of Defense building better weapons,” says Rosin. “I believe in  maintaining a superior defense. Military superiority will assure that Israel will not be defeated in war; however, it will not achieve peace. I firmly believe that in parallel with building better weapons, we have to pursue dialogue and cooperation. The two efforts are not mutually exclusive.”

Although there probably won’t be peace in Israel in our lifetime, says Rosin, riding together and spending time with people who have different views “is an investment in peace for our children and grandchildren.”