Rather than a vague promise for economic prosperity that would come with peace, in the case of Palestinians and Israelis this plan gives economic improvement a place, a name, and a date.
What is more, such a common goal shared by Israelis, Palestinians, and many of the neighboring nations would facilitate long-awaited regional cooperation. In a part of the world where long-term planning typically sinks in a sea of short-term interests, the promise of the Olympic Games could reshuffle systems within and between nations.
The first Games in the Middle East, if framed the right way, are likely to attract a flood of investments from far and near and should provide the bureaucratic infrastructure necessary for successful regional cooperation. The benefits would not be limited to local interests, but would also include the forging of regional alliances.
Regional powers vying for dominance are likely to find the Games a goal worth pursuing. An Olympic pledge, with the support of the world’s leading nations contingent on successful regional cooperation, is likely to catapult Middle East politics in a new direction.
Furthermore, sports events are the closest substitute to armed conflicts. One need only observe the brawls between soccer fans, when certain European national teams meet, to be reminded of the wars those very nations waged against one another a few decades ago – and be comforted by the diminished form those conflicts presently take.
When such sublimation, inherent to sports, is combined with regional cooperation over a goal that is bound to deliver economic benefits, the prospects of the plan appear to improve a great deal. Israeli and Arab sport teams usually avoid playing on the same field. This plan would not only put them on the same field but also on the same metaphorical team.