Can This MIT Student Entrepreneurship Program Bridge the Israeli-Palestinian Divide?

Ideological and political conflicts exist across the world, and often appear oversimplified and binary: conservative versus liberal, left versus right, the 99 versus 1 percent.

Yet the reality is often much more complicated. And for children born in the wake of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East, growing up in the world of ideological tension has been a way of life.

While Middle Eastern entrepreneurs have tried to encourage peace and conversation between Israel and Palestine through binational work, many organizations struggle to recruit from either country. However, one of these programs—Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow (or MEET)—has used an education-first approach since 2004 to invest in bright young students. With programming support from MIT faculty and graduates, MEET brings together equal numbers of Israeli and Palestinian high school students each year to engage in coding and entrepreneurship training, and subsequently, cultivate cross-border relationships and collaboration.

Recently, EdSurge’s Mary Jo Madda came across MEET on a trip to Israel, and upon returning to San Francisco, connected with the team’s U.S. Development Director Etai Freedman, an Israeli native, to hear more about teaching student entrepreneurship and what American student-facing programs learn from MEET. Take a listen to the EdSurge podcast to hear his thoughts, or to check out the full Q&A, scroll below.


EdSurge: Where did MEET come from? How did it form?

Etai Freedman: MEET is an “excellence” education program that’s been around since 2004. We recruit the brightest Israeli and Palestinian students to come and work together during their formative years. The students start the program at the age of 14, and finish at the age of 17. We specifically target this age group because this is…

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