Economic coexistence – a Middle East model

Can Israelis and Palestinians work together?

My own work experience includes a 7 year stint with a multinational in Jerusalem. Employees included Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. I recall how we all shared a joke about our Christian colleagues. They had the best deal, as they did not work on Jewish and Muslim holidays, as well as Christmas.

A one-off freak affair? No way. One of Israel’s most successful independent businessmen is Stef Wertheimer. He has just launched a new Arab-Israel industrial park in Nazareth. It was less than a decade ago, when the Christian and Muslim communities in the city were at physical loggerheads over a visit by the Pope.

And Israel’s largest newspaper, Yediot, ran a feature this week on economic cooperation in the West Bank. For example, the newest branch of the supermarket chain, Rami Levy, is located near Bethlehem. Jews and Muslims work and shop together. About 15 miles to the north, the town or settlement of Psagot has set up a winery, where the staff is also “mixed”. etc etc.

In previous writings, I have mentioned the brilliant work of Save a Child’s Heart in south Tel Aviv, the Peres Center for Peace and the Abraham Fund – all these making a quiet but significant difference in health, commerce, education and social services.

Is there a catch? It is disappointing not to find a similar level of initiatives coming from ‘the other side of the fence’.

And it is with disappointment and irony how several international groups have been boycotting Israel in some form at what they see as Israel’s punishment of the Palestinian population. The latest examples include a cultural protest by 140 Irish artists and a Norwegian oil fund has dropped 2 Israeli companies from its portfolio.

These people are effectively erecting barriers to progress, the very act they accuse Israel of. Maybe hypocrisy is a more accurate description than irony. Their policy creates mistrust, if not hatred, simply watering the seeds of wars to come.

There is a message here. Numerous NGOs, politicians, artists and others wage a war of words against Israel. If they were to judge the country by her actions that do not make the main news programmes – the actions that make a difference – boycotts could be replaced by increased greater economic benefit for all.

Is that too simple a dream to hope for?

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2 Comments on “Economic coexistence – a Middle East model”

  1. Ian Thomas Says:

    It is very sad that the International Media do not publicise these sorts of initiatives.
    I am sure there are many other positive stories out there.

    • Michael Horesh Says:

      Indeed, and that is what is so sad about this (and other?) conflicts – which is one of the key reasosns I write this blog


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