twelve years ago i took part in the 50th anniversary israeli parade on fifth avenue in new york. my support for the young state though far from unquestioning has become more resolute over time.

i just got home from an inspiring paul romer talk on charter cities at columbia where he built on the ideas in the ted talk above.

during the post-talk q+a romer was asked whether his idea for charter cities could somehow be a part of the resolution to the israel / palestine question. he hesitantly and carefully responded that it was possible. although the middle east was not a part of the world he though about when developing these ideas he has recently been asked by a businessman who grew up in the west bank to carry out some research on the idea. romer did elaborate briefly on the two schools of thought: on the one hand giving young, unemployed populations options for economic empowerment in well-governed cities could possible go along way towards ridding the region of violence. on the other some say the geographic entrapment is a central part of a resistance to the encroachment of other peoples.
a few years ago in a setting of young egyptian professionals i threw the idea out of handing over the for the most part unoccupied sinai to palestinians and leaving (greater israel) to the israelis. the response was predictable vehemently opposed. but as i dragged the conversation out, the initial reactions gave way to more measured, and i would say rational, responses that grew more agreeable, with a few even changing sides.
tonight there was talk of dubai in someways being a not quite fully formed proto-charter city as well thought experiments of abu dhabi funding these charter cities around the world with governance perhaps partly designed by scandinavian countries and immigration opened up to the developing world.
it’s a fascinating and inspiring idea for continuing our already impressive progress on improving and sharing economic development as widely as possible. and an intriguing idea for escaping the current middle east peace gridlock.

i am becoming increasingly moved and passionate about the need for arab voices in support of israel and for fresh thinking that will address the palestinians’ economic and political stranglehold.

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