Startup Nation by Dan Senor is a book that highlights the Israeli Technology sector as the driving force behind Israeli societal progress. Senor traces this idea from Israel’s foundation- at which point the land was empty, barren, and dry- until today. If I learned but one thing from Senor’s book it is that economic integration and prosperity are the most effective paths toward peace and the most successful bridges between different worlds. In conjunction with my recent trip to The United Arab Emirates and The Sultanate of Oman, this book helped me see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an entirely new light.
If financial incentives can unite all types of Israelis- Jew with Muslim, orthodox with secular, J-street with Likud- this principle should apply to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Recently, the Israeli Government began construction on a business park on the border crossing between Israel and Gaza. These offices will house Arabs from Gaza, many of whom have never met a Jew who wasn’t a soldier, and Jews from Israel. After realizing thatthough distinct, both cultures can coexist in an office setting, the voices of peace and unity will outlast those of division and fear. In another example, since Hamas, the elected Government in Gaza, fails to provide basic services to its residents, many Palestinians are without running water or power for hours on end. Israel just finished building a power-plant that will provide a megawatt of energy to Gaza.
When people have power they read, learn, create, and build. They acquire a liking for peace, not hate. The reason I, a Jew who has countless stamps from Israel in my passport, was allowed to enter UAE or Oman is because a tolerant and open position towards Israel has proven economically fruitful for Gulf Nations. In conversations with many people, I learned that citizens of those countries are not anti-Israel. In fact, they see Israel as a major trade partner, strategic ally, and fellow endorser of peace.
However, peace between Israel and Palestine will be unattainable so long as Palestinians reject Israel’s right to exist. If denying the legitimacy of a Jewish state is more important to Palestinians than acquiring their own state, peace will never come. And only though economic stability, integration, and prosperity will Palestinians and Israelis start to see each other as people, and begin to catalyze a meaningful process towards reconciliation.