For more than 20 years leaders of the Free World have invested much of their foreign energies in attempting to solve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with the aim of being the one to usher in a long-lasting peace between the two people.
Let’s have a quick review:
1993 Oslo Peace Accords: President Clinton is influential in bringing Yitzhak Rabin (Israel) and Yasser Arafat (PLO) together to sign the famous Oslo Peace Accords. The Oslo Peace Accords promised the Palestinians an interim self-government (Palestinian Authority), territories of Palestinian sovereignty in areas of the Gaza Strip and West Bank (e.g. Bethlehem, Jericho, Nablus, and Hebron), and Israel Defense Forces troops withdraw from those particular areas. After 20 years of Oslo many argue the hopeful peace plan was a complete failure that put both parties at a higher risk for war.
2000 Camp David Accord: President Clinton attempts to revive Camp David Accord between Israeli and Palestinian officials. Yasser Arafat rejects the proposal offered, which included up to 97% of the West Bank given to the Palestinians.
2003 Road Map to Peace: President George W. Bush meets with Israeli PM Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Aqaba, Jordan to progress “Road Map” to peace plan. It never gets off the ground.
2007 Annapolis Peace Conference: President Bush, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Arab states meet in Annapolis, Maryland, to set an agenda of peace that can reached by 2008, but talks fall apart after Israel has to defend itself against the barrage of missiles coming from the Gaza Strip.
2010 Relaunch of Middle East Peace: President Barack Obama, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, attempts to relaunch peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. No deal is reached.
2013 Relaunch of Middle East Peace II: President Barack Obama, along with Secretary of State John Kerry, attempts to once again relaunch peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis with an open invitation to both parties to meet in Washington, D.C.
The peace accords that were agreed upon like Oslo in 1993 have been known to cause more harm than help, while all of the subsequent attempts at peace failed to see anything fruitful.
As international diplomats work hard to thrust a two-state solution down the throats of both parties in order to force peace, Israeli citizens have decided to take the matter into their own hands by creating peace from the ground up.
Recently several Israeli companies like Cisco Israel, SodaStream, and others have invested in Palestinian workers, training them in new technologies, providing transportation, breakfast, and lunch, while also paying them 10 times more than the average income of a Palestinian.
The owner of the wildly popular company, SodaStream, has been quoted as saying that having a business in the West Bank is a “pain” because of all the criticism they’ve received. But he also says, “My hope, my prayer, my belief, and my responsibility at SodaStream is that we will fulfill the prophecy from the book of Isaiah: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore. Instead of learning war, let them learn how to make a sodamaker.”
Businesses, religious institutions, and governments are recognizing the value of these Israelis who are attempting to bring peace by providing a decent income and professional training to Palestinians who live in the West Bank. For instance, the Presbyterian Church of USA has been a staunch critic of Israel and its presence in the West Bank, calling for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) from Israeli made products from the West Bank.
However, recently a delegation from the PCUSA was invited by the American Israel Friendship League to show what these Israeli companies are doing to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The Presbyterian delegation left the West Bank encouraged by what Israel is doing and plan to express their findings and support for Israel to the church leaders.
Politicians can talk peace all day long; however, Israeli entrepreneurs are taking serious step toward creating peace from the ground up.