Alon Tal, Visionary Activist
Alon Tal is a life-long Young Judaean, beginning at the age of nine, when he entered Camp Judaea in North Carolina as a chanich, through the age of 17, when he was an active camper and staff member at Young Judaea Camps until he headed off to Israel as part of Year Course 1977-78. Growing up, Alon’s (in those days Albert’s) Young Judaea activities were not only limited to summer camp - as an active member of his local Young Judaea chapter, he was elected president of the Young Judaea club in Raleigh, North Carolina at the age of 14 and went on to serve as the Seaboard Regional “Exec” and then as National Senior Programmer. Even after moving to Israel at age 20, Tal returned during the summer to be a Merakez at TY and while in graduate school, he was Director of Tel Yehudah – Bet, in the summer of 1987.
Tal’s career in Israel has been a balance between academia and public interest advocacy. He is presently Chair of the Department of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University. He has held faculty appointments at Ben Gurion and Hebrew Universities in Israel, and was a visiting professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand and Stanford University in California. Additionally, he was an adjunct faculty member at Harvard University from 1990-1998.
From 2004-2016, Tal was a member of the International Board of Directors of the Jewish National Fund where he served as Chairman of the Committee for Land Development, overseeing forestry and land reclamation, as well as the Committee for Sustainable Development. Between 2010 and 2013 he served as chair of Israel’s Green Party - “the Green Movement."
Dr. Tal was the founding director of Adam Teva V'din, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, a leading public interest law group, from 1990-1997. Subsequently, he was chairman of Life and Environment, an umbrella group for eighty environmental organizations in Israel from 1998-2003. Here he established an outreach initiative, “A Place for Everyone,” to expand the participation of Arab-Israeli environmental organizations and activists. At the same time, in 1996, Dr. Tal founded the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, a graduate studies center in which Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian students join environmentalists from around the world in an advanced interdisciplinary research program.
Tal served as head of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. In 2006 he was awarded the Charles Bronfman Prize, and in 2008, at the age of 48, he was given a lifetime achievement award by Israel’s Ministry of the Environment. He has been counted amongst Israel’s 100 most influential people by the Marker, and Haaretz Newspaper has referred to him as “Israel’s most effective environmentalist."
Dr. Tal is a published author of hundreds of articles and academic pieces, and has written eight books. His most recent work, The Land is Full, was published by Yale University Press and won the Haiken Prize in 2017 as the best geo-strategic book about Israel. Previously, the University of California Press published Pollution in a Promised Land, considered to be the definitive environmental history of Israel. His research focuses on issues of natural resources and conflict, risk analysis, conservation and park management as well as overpopulation and the environment.
Dr. Tal holds degrees in political science and economics from the University of North Carolina, and a Law Degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He completed his Masters and Doctoral degrees from the Harvard School of Public Health in Environmental Health Policy. Dr. Tal is married to Robyn, also a proud Young Judaean, and together the couple has three daughters. Tal enjoys long distance running, tennis, and playing bluegrass fiddle in the Arava Riders band.