By Abigail Klein Leichman - March 13, 2018

Originally appeared here in Israel21c

On the first day of a pilot program pairing Israeli and Palestinian farmers interested in joint agricultural ventures, each population sat warily on opposite sides of the room.

Though all had agreed to be part of the trailblazing training program held at the Galilee International Management Institute (GIMI) on Kibbutz Mizra, significant social and linguistic barriers stood in their way.

“The biggest challenge was to overcome the notions we have of the ‘the other,’” says Silvana Nahmad, director of European and Mediterranean Affairs at GIMI. The program was funded by the European Union and developed in cooperation with a foundation that prefers not to be identified.

To be considered for the program, applicants had to have at least a bachelor’s degree in agriculture or a related field, such as water management, and a willingness to work together over a period of two years to launch businesses growing and exporting olives or dates, two of Israel’s largest crops.

Nahmad chose 10 Israeli participants and the partnering foundation chose 15 Palestinian participants, mostly between the ages of 23 and 50. Their initial seminars at GIMI last November focused on both the agricultural and business aspects of the future joint ventures. Read More