As the Israeli-Palestinian International Economic Forum moved through its final day, a consistent theme emerged. Though this was an economic forum, every speaker talked about the human dimension – what is accomplished by working together.
Judea Samaria Chamber (JSC) President Avi Zimmerman shared the JSC vision for integrated business. “We need to begin with free trade with our neighbors,” he said, “We are prosperity activists, peace is already here.” Israeli Deputy Minister Dr. Michael Oren added, “Peace is built from the bottom up.”
JSC co-founder Ashraf Jabari told the audience, “We (Palestinians) need to work together with Israeli people – people need to know that these are our neighbors and we live beside them…We want to stop the bloodshed. Everything will come together if we come together with our hearts. If Palestinians and Jewish people can’t work together, we will have pain for the next 50 years.”
Senator James Lankford added, “Its always relationships that help. When we work together, we can come together more. The U.S. is stepping in to say that neighbors helping neighbors is a good thing.”
U.S. Ambassador David Friedman spoke eloquently about the relationship between Jews and Palestinians. “As the children of Abraham, there is far more that unites us than divides us. We are not destined to fight. Every one of us believes in the essential dignity and holiness of every human being, and it is our sacred task to bring that holiness and dignity to our everyday life.” [View Ambassador Friedman’s address]
He went on to say, “You may have irreconcilable differences with your political enemies but never let those differences destroy your humanity. Never let those differences allow you to stand and watch as your enemy fails to achieve basic human dignity and opportunity.”
The Israeli-Palestinian International Economic Forum left Israelis and Palestinians with hope and with a vision for the future through working together on a long-term strategy for sustainable economic development.