I have always believed that economics are a key part of politics. Economic security supports political stability/security (and vice versa). Obviously, the opposite is also true: economic insecurity is a barrier to political stability. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu agrees. According to the JTA, he told US Jewish leaders to join Arabs in investing in the Palestinian economy. Economic prosperity for Palestinians is one of six conditions he outlined for lasting peace. To that end, Israel is working to facilitate commerce in the West Bank and stimulate the Palestinian economy. There is self-interest involved on the part of the Israeli government as the Palestinian and Israeli economies are closely linked (and since Israel controls shipping over land, air, and sea that will increase with economic stability). Last week, the NY Times had an article about stabilization of the Palestinian economy. An interesting way to support the Palestinian economy is to get involved in a joint Israeli-Palestinian organization that promotes microfinance. Craig Newmark, founder of Craigs List, just joined their board.
Here is an excert from the lendforpeace.org Press Release:
Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, joins LendforPeace.org in support of Middle East entrepreneurship
San Francisco, CA – July 22, 2009 – Craig Newmark, Internet entrepreneur and founder of the classified advertising website Craigslist.org, has spent his career connecting people with complementary needs. Now, he is working to bring borrowers and lenders together to facilitate economic development in the Middle East.
Newmark announced today that he has joined the advisory board of a new microfinance website called LendforPeace.org. LendforPeace.org allows users to make loans to specific entrepreneurs in the West Bank, thus helping them build a sustainable livelihood through small business.
“I have modestly done my part over the years by getting involved in peace making efforts in this region,” said Newmark, “I believe that economic development is one of the ways that we can lay the groundwork for political stability in the Middle East. LendforPeace.org is helping to advance this cause.”
Newmark has already leant $5,000 to Palestinian micro-entrepreneurs through LendforPeace.org. Hajar Farukh, a 44-year-old mother of seven children, is one such individual. Her husband, a taxi driver, does the best he can to support his family, but only earns about $500 a month. Hajar dreams of being able to provide more for her family and so she opened a small grocery by her home to contribute to the household’s income. Working with a local microfinance partner, she requested a loan to buy more inventory for her shop. With the support of LendforPeace.org users like Newmark, Hajar’s small business will have the opportunity to grow, enabling her children to stay in school and her family to contribute positively to the community.
“We are honored to have Craig Newmark on LendforPeace.org’s advisory board,” says co-founder Allam Taj. “His dedication to the cause, entrepreneurial insight and experience make him an inspiration for our organization.”
Founded by two Jews and two Palestinians, LendforPeace.org is an innovative non-profit organization taking a grassroots approach to peace building. Through LendforPeace.org’s website, individuals can make small loans to specific entrepreneurs in the Middle East. By increasing cross-cultural exposure and collaboration, LendforPeace.org is striving to not only bring needed funds to the region but also to enhance interfaith dialogue between Jews and Palestinians.
About Craig Newmark
Craig Newmark is the founder of craigslist.org. He's also working with a wide range of groups using the Net to help each other out, like Donorschoose.org, the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America, Kiva.org and Consumer Reports. Craig is also actively engaged with government workers on multiple levels to use the Net for superior public service, and with Sunlight Foundation for government accountability and transparency.
I encourage you to support this important organization. If you are a student, consider being a campus ambassador.