Engagement Leader of the Year Award

Ehud Keinan

Finalist of the Engagement Leader of the Year Award

"Academia cannot stay ivory tower, should rather become a lighthouse"

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Prof. Keinan has demonstrated an outstanding leadership and engagement of a university professor in important public issues and ecosystems. He has demonstrated the increasingly recognized third role of the universities beyond their traditional tasks of teaching and research. He has already become a public icon and a role model for many professors and students worldwide by cracking the traditional image of the academia as a socially detached “ivory tower”, and showing that university professors can and should lead the way as a moral “lighthouse”. Aiming at rescuing the dense population in Haifa Bay from the dangerous, 30-year operation of ammonia imports and massstorage, Keinan has initiated and led a major public protest and legal wars, all based on a comprehensive document, known as the Keinan report. All levels of the court system, including the Magistrate Court of Haifa, the District Court and the Supreme Court, have ruled to terminate the liquid ammonia imports to Haifa. Over 1000 newspaper articles have covered this affair, including 30 OpEd articles by Keinan himself, hundreds of TV and radio interviews, public debates and rallies of angry citizens, students, pupils, youth movements, engineers and workers. Many organizations became involved, including eight Government Ministries, 25 municipalities in Northern Israel, nonprofit organizations, and political parties. This story, which has multiple aspects, including the legal, economic, scientific, technological, social, political and national, is attracting increasing interest from outsides the State of Israel.

Key People

Prof. Dan Shechtman
Distinguished Prof. 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering,  Technion

Prof. Noam Eliaz
Professor of Engineering
Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering,  Tel Aviv University

Prof. Yedidia Bentur
Professor of Engineering
Rappaport Faculty of Medicine,  Technion

Dr. Alec Groysman
PhD Engineering and Adjunct Professor
Faculty of Chemical Engineering,  Technion

Prof. Amos Notea
Professor of Engineering and Management
Faculty of Technology Management,  Technion


The public struggle for removal of the ammonia operations from the Haifa Bay could not succeed without the close collaboration with the dedicated team of the Haifa municipality, particularly Mayor Yona Yahav and attorneys Reshef Cheyne, Inbal Ben-Ari, William Shukair and Yamit Klein.


1. The Keinan Committee

Keinan submits the Keinan report to Major Yona Yahav

Press conference at Haifa Municipality with Haifa Major Yona Yahav and Prof. Keinan, 31/1/2017

Haifa citizen demonstrate to remove the ammonia tank, 26/2/2017

Youth demonstration near the regional court 26/2/2017

High-school pupils demonstrating in Haifa

In the regional court. From left: Keinan, Major Yahav and Dan Shechtman

Court session. From left: Prof. Dan Shechtman, Kiryat Motzkin Major Haim Tzuri, Haifa Major Yona Yahav and Prof. Keinan

Supreme Court session. From left: Judge Noam Solberg, Judge Hanan Meltzer, Judge Uri Shoham

Negev Nobel group photo. Sitting in the middle, four Israeli Nobel Prize Laureates. From left: Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko, Dan Shechtman and Ada Yonath. Standing in the back: Teachers, Mayors, Government Ministers and Keinan. The pupils wear color-coded shirts representing cities in Southern Israel

Prof. Ehud Keinan

Professors Committee

Professors Committee


Impacting lifes

In late 2017 the influential Israeli magazine “Makor Rishon” announced Ehud Keinan as “Man of the Year”, portraying him as a national hero and arguing that “only few people can be credited with reality-changing, life-saving undertaking, while risking their reputation, career, and perhaps even their life. Professor Ehud Keinan is such a person. On January 29, 2017, the 70-year old professor - one of Israel’s most prominent chemists - presented an explosive document to the Mayor of Haifa. The Keinan report and his subsequent crusade against the monstrous ammonia imports and storage within the densely populated Haifa Bay, eventually shook the country.

Ten 10 world-renowned professors, including Nobel Prize Laureate Dan Shechtman, were recruited and led by Keinan to voluntarily examine the industrial ammonia operations. They found that importing huge amounts of refrigerated ammonia and storing it in an old, unsafe, 12,000-ton tank under poor safety standards and without proper permits, threatened the lives of nearly 1,000,000 residents at the metropolitan area of about 25 towns in the Haifa Bay. In spite of a fierce PR attacks by the fertilizer manufacturer, who was supported by government officials, Keinan’s unprecedented public struggle has ended with a historical triumph. Following numerous legal battles through the entire court system, the Supreme Court of Israel finally ruled not only to empty and decommission the ammonia tank, but also prohibited all imports of bulk ammonia to any port of the State of Israel. Keinan has terminated a life-threatening, 30-year operation that endangered nearly one million women, men and children.”


Lessons learned

Prof. Keinan is about to complete his book, “The Ammonia Wars in Haifa Bay: An Introductory Course to Democracy”, which he intends to publish in two versions, Hebrew and English, and is likely to be translated to additional languages. This book, which emphasises the crucial synergism among multiple organizations, could become a valuable textbook with lessons to those who are involved in various public struggles. Several academic programs of law and public policy in Israeli universities and colleges have already included Keinan’s successful engagement with public initiatives and leadership. They all pose universal questions to professors, students and all citizens: Are we responsible for everything that goes on in our country? Are we exempt from being involved in the State affairs? Do we have any rights or obligations to intervene in State affairs? Do we have the power to influence State affairs? Keinan’s experience has already provided clear answers to these questions.


What's coming?

Prof. Keinan’s victorious struggle to terminate the ammonia operation in Haifa Bay has already triggered and inspired other public efforts under his leadership, as well as various public campaigns led by citizens, university professors, engineers and students. The following list of efforts includes only those initiated and being led by Prof. Keinan.

• Ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) by the State of Israel. Although this struggle is on-going, much progress has already been achieved. Keinan had addressed the Prime-Minister and President of the State of Israel with open letters, communicated with Parliament Members and other officials and interacted directly with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Netherlands and the EuCheMS association on European chemical societies.

• Keinan’s public initiative to minimize natural gas exports from Israel has already gained partial success. Linked to this effort, he has initiated a national effort, which focuses of C1- Economy, aiming to exploit natural gas as a chemical feedstock for the petrochemical industry. He had already created a synergistic alliance, which includes the Israel Chemical Society, the American Chemical Society and various other academic, industrial and governmental entities.

• Keinan’s ongoing, remarkable educational projects, which target high school pupils of low socioeconomic strata in Israel and high-school pupils of the Arab minority, had already gained significant success. Three of these projects are worth mentioning: the Archimedes project, which provides gifted high school pupils with academic courses toward a bachelor's degree in chemistry. The Negev-Nobel Project, which offers advanced chemistry education to disadvantaged pupils in southern Israel. The Assi Project, which promotes science education and academic excellence among high-school pupils of the Arab sector in Israel.

• The MERIT (Middle East Research Institute) represents an unusual, 20-year effort to establish an extra-territorial research institute in the Middle East. Prof. Keinan serves as President of the MERIT Foundation, which was established 2 decades ago. The details of this unusual project cannot be described within the limited space of this document.



University Professors participated in the Keinan Committee


Residents of the Haifa Bay were rescued from life-threatening operation


Months of an intense public struggle ended a 13-year legal deadlock


Newspaper articles covered the public struggle


OpEd articles published by Prof. Keinan in leading Israeli newspapers


Government Ministries were involved in the ammonia affair


Municipalities in Northern Israel were involved in the affair

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