Peres: Jewish, Arab coexistence requires equality

President praises new Nazareth Industrial Park for enabling employees from different sectors of the population.

Peres and Wertheimer 370 (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Peres and Wertheimer 370
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
There cannot be coexistence between Jews and Arabs without full equality, President Shimon Peres said on Tuesday at the official opening of the Nazareth Industrial Park, built by serial entrepreneur Stef Wertheimer.
In praising Wertheimer for his initiative, Peres said that he thanked him on behalf of the state because the project represents a step forward on the path to peace.
The industrial park, which overlooks the Jezreel Valley, will provide some 1,000 jobs for residents of the Galilee, bringing together Arabs, Jews, Druse and Circassians, and enabling employees from different sectors of the population to enjoy similar standards of living.
Over the next decade, the industrial park will house approximately 30 hitech companies.
“If we continue in this manner,” said Peres, “we can advance the concept of equality and we will accomplish a revolutionary change.”
Turning to Nazareth Mayor Ramez Jeraisy, Peres said he was “getting a new city,” because the industrial park is the last word in advanced technology, and because most of the people working there would be qualified academics.
This will elevate Nazareth to new heights, Peres promised.
Wertheimer, who has built other industrial parks, the best known of which is Tefen, also in the Galilee, was unhappy that it had taken 10 years for the industrial park to be built, while a similar one had been built in Turkey in only two years. He attributing the delay to Israel’s convoluted bureaucracy. In Israel, he observed, there were too many cooks spoiling the broth – too many lawyers, too many managers and too much bureaucracy, all of which got in the way of progress.
“We could have done much more in a 10-year span,” he said.
Peres agreed that quality industrial projects that create more jobs for a growing population and equal opportunities for all sectors should not have to overcome so many obstacles along the way.
Wertheimer said that the industrial park was a model he hopes to see emulated elsewhere, because it is a genuine contribution to Jewish-Arab coexistence as well as Israel’s economy and society.
“It will provide a place of work and an income for people from all over the Galilee and will give the sons and daughters of the residents a reason to stay, and to help develop the northern periphery as well as the state,” he said.
Wertheimer pledged that job training facilities would also be provided at the industrial park, with the aim of promoting coexistence, cultural pluralism and equal opportunities, and encourage occupations that have all but disappeared in an age of white-collar professions.
Jeraisy, who said he appreciated the efforts and goodwill of both Peres and Wertheimer, identified the hi-tech vision as bringing “hope to young people and enabling Nazareth to develop at a much faster pace.”
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Peres toured the park and spent time with CEO Eli Gelman at Amdocs, the first of the three global companies to set up offices at the park thus far.
Bank of Israel Gov. Stanley Fischer, who also attended the ceremony, noted that the Israeli economy had not only managed to remain stable, but had actually flourished in recent years. Moreover, unemployment figures have shrunk, he said, and are lower than at any time in the past 30 years.