Stef Wertheimer wants to build industrial parks in the Middle East. He thinks doing so could be a major contributor to Middle East peace.
Mr Wertheimer believes that this need not be so. He hopes to get America to help finance 100 private-sector industrial parks running around the eastern Mediterranean from Turkey to the Egyptian border. (Given America's struggle to finance the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan, this is surely a long shot.) These, he believes, would foster export-oriented entrepreneurship and, ultimately, a change in world view. For a blueprint, Mr Wertheimer points to what he has already accomplished in Israel: four industrial parks with 162 companies, mostly start-ups, using Arab and Jewish workers. Collectively, they produce $600m annually in products, largely for export.
There are plenty of obstacles to overcome, but I think it could work. In a Middle East with wealthier populations, a higher standard of living, and a more global focus, it would be much more difficult to find people for suicide bombing missions. It's easy to give your life for a cause when you don't have much to live for. Removing that hopelessness would be a big step in the right direction.