The first industrial park in an Arab municipality was officially dedicated Tuesday in Nazareth.
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Twelve years in the making, it is the seventh such park that businessman Stef Wertheimer has established, including four others in the Galilee, one in the Negev and one in Turkey.
During the dedication, Wertheimer repeatedly voiced bitterness that it took so long to build the Nazareth park because of what he termed bureaucratic difficulties. He said the park makes a real contribution to the economy, society and Jewish-Arab coexistence, and should serve as a model.
“Creating jobs and sources of income in the Galilee will keep boys and girls from all communities here, and will help develop the periphery and the country,” he said.
Three companies already operate in the park, located on a hill overlooking the Jezreel Valley. The park’s goal is to create entrepreneurial opportunities, and within a decade, it hopes to host 20 to 25 export-oriented companies that would provide 1,000 jobs. Wertheimer worked with the Nazareth municipality to establish the park, which cost $22 million.
International telecom company Amdocs already has an office there that employs 100 workers in shifts throughout the day. So does Alpha Omega, founded by Nazareth couple Reem and Imad Younis, which manufactures products in the fields of neurology and neurosurgery, and BRF Engineering, owned by Rabei Ibrahim, which provides outsourcing solutions for equipment manufacturers.
“The industrial park allows us to be at home in Nazareth after operating over the years in Upper Nazareth,” Reem Younis said.
President Shimon Peres and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fisher both attended the ceremony. According to Peres, it’s impossible to talk about coexistence as long as there are two levels of existence. Only when Israeli Arabs and Jews have a similar standard of living will there be coexistence, he said, and this will only derive from equality and provision of equal opportunity.
“Carrying along this way will bring revolutionary change,” he added. “Nazareth is beginning to be a new city. Here you have the last word in technology.”
Peres noted there are 70,000 Arabs with university degrees, an unexploited treasure. But they are slowly being integrated into advanced industries, he said, and now is the time to bring high-tech to Arab communities.
He added that the project, located by the Christian holy site of Mount Precipice, should be called “Mount Jump-off.”
Several mayors also attended the dedication, but the mayor of neighboring Upper Nazareth, Shimon Gapso, was conspicuously absent. “I was invited to the event, but not by the city of Nazareth, so I decided not to come,” he said. “I prefer to dedicate my time to taking care of Upper Nazareth’s affairs.”