Ian Shapiro: Can Business Links Lead to Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians?

Ian Shapiro: Can Business Links Lead to Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians?


(gentle music) – This case on Israel and Palestine is one of a series of cases
that I’ve made and teach about the role of business in mediating
conflict in high conflict situations so I made an earlier
one on the role of business in the South African
transition in the 1990s and I’m currently making
one on the role of business in reintegrating FARQ members into the Colombian Economy. I think a lot of the
people trying to generate these things in the West
Bank and so forth are working from the premise that if the economies can get substantially
better in the West Bank different political forces will emerge or People will be less rigid
in the future because attacking the political situation
head on is hopeless. One of them is something called Rawabi. It’s a big high tech startup special economic zone
its a billion venture. Some of the expertise
comes from something called the Palestinian Internship Program that is being run by an Israeli Tech Magnate called Yadim Kaufman who gives internships to
Palestinians for a year they go back into the West
Bank and they start companies. He is also putting together
a venture capital fund no Israeli investors which
funds these Palestinian startup. They get criticized for
normalizing the status quo normalization is the big attack and but if you’re normalizing to a status quo that is itself evolving that might over time put pressure
on the political situation so if you if you look for example you know the West Bank and
Gaza used to be fairly similar but what’s happening because
of all this economic activity in the West Bank is that
the per capita income in the West Bank is now many
multiples of Gaza and in fact it’s soon will overtake
Jordan’s per capita income and so it’s another reason
the Israeli settlers don’t like this development
because they’re worried that far from Palestinians
going to Jordan, Jordanians might start coming into the West Bank is particularly given all the refugee
issues and so on in Jordan. So the point about normalization its normalization to what? Because reality doesn’t stand still. And so I think that a lot of these folks who are looking at these ventures are trying to change the status quo in ways that will loosen up if you like the political rigidities. South African story I mean in a nutshell, one of the reasons there was
no possibility of progress for so long was that the
South African Communist Party in the African National Congress who are literally the same people. So many white elites in the 1980s were terrified that if
there was a transition that not only would
they get majority rule, but they would get communism everything would be
nationalized and so on. And one of the things this
is in our South Africa case that I made some years ago. One of the things that
happened was with communism going off the table with
the collapsing Soviet Union in the late 1980s, as one South African businessman from Anglo American put it when I interviewed him
you’d hear him he said. I woke up one morning and I realized we don’t have to be
Cuba, we can be Brazil. And so once people can perceive a different set of economic possibilities, these incredibly ossified
conflicts can start to be seen in a different way, take on a different hue and people will see possibilities that they would never
have dreamed of before.

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