As a young man I spent four years in an ecological studies center in the Sinai, where I guided eco-hiking tours, carried a violin for a beautiful musician, did ethnographic fieldwork with the Jebaliya Bedouins and tried to grow beans in a remote elevated granite valley. The crop failed. The memories linger.
I earned my BSc in Environmental Studies from King's College London (1982). While there, I had to borrow a suit and a brief case for a visit to Buckingham Palace, where I shared my thoughts about nature conservation in Sinai with Prince Philip, then President of the World Wildlife Fund.
Love of ducks, strawberries and punting brought me to Cambridge, where in 1991 I received my PhD in Social Anthropology with a pioneering ethnographic study of Palestinians in Nazareth.
I published books with Cambridge University Press, University of California Berkeley Press, Stanford University Press, Ashgate London and leading Israeli publishers. In my most recent book, The Power of Deserts: Climate Change, the Middle East and the Promise of a Post-oil Era, I make the counterintuitive argument that 200 oil princes in the Persian Gulf might save us all from climate chaos.
Articles I wrote appeared in American Ethnologist, American Anthropologist, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Current Anthropology, Critical Inquiry, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Annual Review of Anthropology, Environmental Justice and more. One focused on a Palestinian basketball coach in charge of a team with anti-Arab, often racist players.
I have held visiting professorships at Columbia University, CUNY’s Graduate Center, Princeton, NYU, University of Toronto and at Central European University (when Hungary was till pretending to be a liberal democracy). From 2013 to 2017 I served as Head of Tel-Aviv University's School of Environmental Studies. As Chair of Capsula, the university's Institute for Innovation in Transportation, I was exposed to the intriguing world of high-tech start-ups. To keep my feet firmly on the ground I served simultaneously as Head of Admissions and Teaching at the Faculty of Social Science.
As president of the Israeli Anthropological association I went out on a limb by inviting my friend Edward Said to be the guest of honor of the 1999 annual conference in Nazareth. Edward took his own chance when he agreed to come. His address to the association ended up being his only formal appearance before an Israeli audience and the best attended event in the Association's history.
Over the years I published more than 300 Op-Ed pieces in Haaretz. I am a frequent guest on TV and Radio news shows.
Optimistic at heart, I nevertheless found myself dedicating my research and public career to problems that appear intractable. First the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; then, more recently, the social, economic, political and cultural aspects of global warming. Aside from teaching, supervising young researchers, writing books and articles, I have always been involved with activist organizations. I served as Chairman of Greenpeace Mediterranean (1998-2004); Vice Chair of Greenpeace UK,(2006-2014); Chairman of Life and Environment (2004-2006) and am currently Chair of the Israeli Association for Environmental Justice.
I was awarded the Pratt Prize for outstanding contribution to media coverage of environmental issues in 2010 and the Green Globe Award for life long environmental leadership in 2016.
I am married and have three children, not all of whom, alas, live in Tel-Aviv like I do.