Support people, not regimes

The way to sidestep the political problem trap is to tackle the feelings of hopelessness and insignificance of the regular person.

Workers place a banner at the pavilion where the U.S. hosted event "Peace to Prosperity" takes place outside Four Seasons Hotel in Manama, Bahrain. (photo credit: MATT SPETALNICK/REUTERS)
Workers place a banner at the pavilion where the U.S. hosted event "Peace to Prosperity" takes place outside Four Seasons Hotel in Manama, Bahrain.
With all the talk about whether our neighbors, the Palestinian Authority, would attend the economic summit in Bahrain, I want to put forth a few ideas in their stead.
The Bahrain Summit was a rare chance to change the course of world events. Instead of falling into the Palestinian Authority quagmire of dealing with political solutions first, the world leaders discussed ways to sort out the economic disparity in this part of the world. Those who can solve the political problems tomorrow have no incentive to do so. So long as the political problem exists, those in power can use it to hold on to power and wealth.
The way to sidestep the political problem trap is to tackle the feelings of hopelessness and insignificance of the regular person. Meaningless existence creates a never-ending supply of slaves to the demands of their terrorist masters, who publicly reject any attempt at improving the lives of the people they supposedly govern. This summit can be the first step to finally achieving financial independence for the ordinary Arab, regardless of whether that person lives in the West Bank, or Jordan, in Israel, Egypt, or Syria. For without the prospect of financial independence, there is no hope of living a life with dignity and respect.
Instead of rejection, here are a few suggestions:
First, do not hand money to regimes who have shown they will use this money for their enrichment or fund terror. Giving them money has not and will not work. Emphasize people, not regimes.
Second, stick around. Do not write checks then fly away. Life is more comfortable in the Emirates or Washington, but make sure you spend your money wisely, and that your efforts permeate to the everyday people.
Third, look for joint projects; get people working together. One such project is the joint Jordanian-Israeli (and even Palestinian) project to refill the Dead Sea. Jordan is desperately in need of a solution to its drinking water shortage. The water level in the Dead Sea has shrunk to a crisis level. The answer appears to be piping water from the Red Sea, but this will be a gigantic undertaking, far greater in scale than what these countries can afford on their own. Also, the project has the potential of unleashing an environmental catastrophe if not done right. With the help of the international community, not only can we save this world cultural site, we can improve the lives of Palestinian Arabs living on both sides of the Dead Sea valley. This project will provide jobs during the construction, and with the restoration of the Dead Sea, also enhance tourism on both sides, which in turn will increase permanent employment.
Fourth, support employment wherever it happens. One of the crimes of this century (thus far) was the closing of the SodaStream plan in Ma’aleh Adumim, located about halfway between Jordan and Jerusalem. It was an older plant, so it needed to be replaced, however, it could have been renovated or rebuilt. That way, five hundred workers could have kept their jobs. Instead, there was tremendous pressure to boycott the company because it was employing Arabs from the West Bank. Why spend billions of dollars on improving financial opportunities for Arabs, while at the same time, pay money to support a hate organization like BDS, which takes credit for dismantling these opportunities? Promote economic activity, because every dollar contributes local spending, which in turn leads to an increase in human dignity.
Fifth, match capabilities. Palestinian Arabs are skilled and willing workers. They can produce beautiful crafts. These skills translate to manufacturing and assembly. Israel generates thousands of creative ideas, most of which provide jobs in other parts of the world. Unleash the power that comes from integrating these societies by building production facilities to turn ideas into products within Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank.
Sixth, do the same for our abundant agricultural exports. Rather than use expensive real estate near the ports, locate food distribution centers in the middle of Israel and in the West Bank to provide jobs closer to where people live. Then transport these goods for export. Also, when you do this, connect these distribution centers with electric vehicle enabled highways, and become the leader in yet another technology.
Seventh, involve all sectors in research and development. When Arabs can take part in the dynamic Israeli society, there will be less distrust and less violence. What we need is greater integration with Israeli society, which we can achieve through more interactions, better access to information and capital, and better facilities for incubating new businesses. Promote economic development and joint ventures between Arab entrepreneurs and Israeli companies in sectors such as research and technology. We need to provide hope for talented and smart Arab students, so they feel they have a future here, and not take their talents overseas. Moreover, we need to send a clear message to the governments that education needs to train all the children, not just those of the elites so our region can compete in an increasingly sophisticated and competitive world economy.
My vision is to build a dynamic economy in which all its people have access. As a young Arab woman, I hope to show the women of my country and the Arab people in general that we can make our lives better. Those in authority who fight economic progress, do so to keep the population restless and dependent, so they can use the people as pawns to get more money and to hold onto their power. Let’s not help them ruin the future for everyone else. Let’s give people what they most want:  the chance to earn a living, provide for their families, and live their lives with dignity.
The writer is a candidate for the Knesset with the Likud.