Former president Shimon Peres.
(photo credit: EREZ HARODI - OSIM TSILUM)
Today, June 9th 2016, we celebrate the inauguration of the Israeli Center of Innovation within the Peres Center for Peace.
Peace, as seen by Israel’s foremost statesman and the architect of the Oslo accords, Shimon Peres, needs to benefit the people, not the governments. As it is a profound transition, it is initially never popular, yet requires the populace’s participation in the process.
Peace needs to be participatory, based on courageous decisions, the legitimacy of the people, and innovation.
Peres’ underlying value in peace-making is that all people are equal. Without equality between us and our Palestinian neighbors, between two states, there will never be peace. Peres’ approach is innovative in this and other aspects. As in all fields, he divorces past habits and is fascinated by the future, to which he wishes to contribute. An architect of peace, who continues to innovate.
Peace and innovation must be intertwined. Peace diplomacy has to adapt to social and scientific progress.
Peace made in the spirit of the Cold War and 20th century nationalism will fail.
This pertains to the many important fields that characterize Peres’ work today: • Science and technology, which today know no borders.
They demand of governments and societies to be part of a globalized world, to provide for good higher education and to create technology-based employment for the young. From a start-up nation to a start-up region. This, in the eyes of Peres, is an opportunity for Israel. Our economy is based on know-how, not on natural resources. We can and should share this with our neighbors for the stability of the region as well as for the sake of Israel’s security and well-being. In this vein, technological incubators for talented students, modeled after our universities, can be exported through multinational hi-tech companies to Arab universities.
• The involvement of private companies in peace building – global companies are the new empires; the Facebook one has 1.4 billion global “citizens” (users). The companies have an interest in a higher standard of living, better infrastructure and good education in their markets, which today reach all continents.
In Peres’ view, these companies should be asked to partake in the efforts to stabilize a Middle East of over 420 million inhabitants, to foster education and capacity building of young people and develop interconnectivity between young Israelis and Arabs across the region’s divides. This will lead with time to a desire for coexistence and greater social openness. Peres engages on an ongoing basis with many of the most brilliant chairpersons and CEOs of tech companies for the good of economic prosperity and peace of the region.
Many see in him a mentor of modern international relations and the region.
• Online education – technology can bring via Internet the best academic education to young people in our region, through their mobile phones. The highest need of youth of our region is to acquire the skills and values that come with higher education. Through the Internet, you can sit in your home in Hebron, Marrakesh, Cairo or Tel Aviv and participate in the best online courses in technology, computer software, gender equality or journalism.
This not only leads to better skills for future employment, but also to more open minds toward a globalized world and to new interconnectivity between Arab and Israeli youth.
• Public diplomacy – peace needs to be democratized.
Diplomacy, in Peres’ view, has to move from the corridors of foreign ministries, ballrooms and cocktail parties into attracting the hearts and minds of young people, especially in our region where 65 percent of the population is under the age of 30 and increasingly accessing the Internet and mobile phones. This can be done today on a massive scale through social networks, which extend beyond geographic borders.