May 26, 2021
The Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry aims to promote commerce and industry among the people, Jews and Palestinian Arabs, living in the area of Judea and Samaria, recently also known as the West Bank. They believe that closer business ties and interdependence between the two peoples will reduce the likelihood of conflict out of mutual self-interest. It is to be noted that even during times of all-out war between Hamas in Gaza and Israel, the people in Judea and Samaria still work, shop, and continue their daily lives.
Ashraf Jaberi, speaking in Hebrew, railed against the corruption of the Palestinian Authority leadership who have grown fantastically rich on the international aid sent to them by Europe and the US and meant to help the Palestinian people. He led a delegation to Bahrain to attend the Peace to Prosperity conference which was a precursor to the Abraham Accords. Upon his return, he was threatened by the Palestinian leadership who profit on the continued poverty and dependence of their people. The intimidation of the people is all-pervasive. Mr. Jaberi characterized the Palestinian Authority as nothing more than an armed militia – hardly a responsible government. Mahmoud Abbas has once again postponed elections. He is now in the 17th year of a four-year term, but no one pressures him because of the fear that Hamas could take over in Judea and Samaria as they have in Gaza. He believes the business community must step up and take the lead to determine a peaceful and prosperous future for their people.
Our members expressed support and hope that Misters Zimmerman and Jaberi will gain stature in international media to promote these constructive ideas and projects.
Mr. Zimmerman responded that their media influence is growing. He added that traditionally there are three sectors: government, business and the social sector. We concentrate on business because that is the most productive. Some European countries are stepping up –Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Austria and Japan have all made gestures of support. In Austria, where they flew the Israeli flag, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif refused to join the meeting. We believe that when the business sector is strong, the other sectors can’t hinder it.
Mr. Jaberi said that AMCD is a strong voice to speak to Congress because our members know the Middle East and can explain it to our leadership from first-hand experience. Hamas, for example is a political party with a military wing. This is an untenable situation which has to be understood for what it is.
Our members pointed out that since Iran has supplied Hamas, the rockets raining down on Israel represent bread taken from the tables of Iranian children. The Iranian people suffer because the priority of the Iranian regime is not their own people, but fomenting international terrorism. Our members hope that Israel will not have to act against Iran alone.
Mr. Zimmerman said their organization wants to stay in the commerce lane to build a global network aside from politics. We’ve found that even during war, both sides want to continue commerce. We also launched a program in which Arab and Druze Israeli women teach Arabic. It was full within minutes. There is a hunger to communicate and to do business together – people to people – without politics.
Our members expressed their enthusiastic support.