Robert Gaines-Cooper a Seychellois citizen wrote to the editor with his bold idea for peace in the Middle East. Robert Gaines-Cooper is a man who believes that peace and reconciliation within nations and between nations is the key to a better world order.
As you know I have been a main supporter of the National Council for Children and most successfully run by Mrs Geva René for nearly four decades. I have also been a benefactor to St. Elizabeth Convent home for children for many years. These involvements have been among the most rewarding of any in my long career. It is very moving to see a young child’s face receiving their first gift – far greater reward for the giver than the receiver.
It has long saddened me to hear of rockets being fired by Palestinians into Israel inadvertently killing children and then hearing that Israeli action has had the same effect from the other side. Someone must find a solution ‘however out of the box’ and I would like to put one such possibility forward – it requires the following:
(i) For Israel to return the sovereignty of all occupied lands to Palestine;
(ii) For Palestine to honor the pre-condition that the returned lands will be leased to Israel for two hundred years; and
(iii) For Israel to pay the Palestine’s suggested sum of US$20 billion per annum for the lease in the form of hospitals, schools and other infrastructure.
Indeed, Israel could take the incredible opportunity of turning Palestine into a thriving economy such as the United States did with South Korea.
That would start the slow process of reconciliation, forgiveness and love each side for the other. Added to all this Israel would be able to continue its construction in the occupied territories without the never-ending criticism of the world at large. Also it would create a new base for peace, much needed in the Middle-East at present.
To those people who say there is too much hatred for such a process to even begin, I disagree because I am living proof that this is not true.
My father was born in 1898 and served in the armed forces in the First World War. He was severely gassed in the trenches in France losing many friends and nearly everyone in his platoon. He was lucky to come out alive. The gas turned his hair black and as a child I thought it was unusual to see my father’s freckled arms with black hair. The subject of Germany and Germans was not to be mentioned in our household ever! My mother wanted a Mercedes and that was out of the question and did not occur until long after my father had passed away.
Twenty years ago a German distributor of our Anesthesia device the Laryngeal Mask ran into financial difficulty and invited me to invest in his company. I subsequently became an equal shareholder in that company, now called Venner Medical Deutschland GmBH. Last year our highly regarded Managing Director passed away unexpectedly in middle age. The company has provided a shareholding and support for his widow and I have undertaken to educate her two delightful young children aged seven and eight. I have also offered them a holiday in the Seychelles every year so they will have something to look forward to. Their first holiday here will be next month. My father would never have believed that his own son would be involved in such an undertaking! This is an example for both Israelis and Palestinians that reconciliation, peace and love is possible and it is the responsibility of all of us to try and achieve this.
Over the last few months I have tried to pass my idea to more eminent people who I feel perhaps better placed to put forward the proposals. In each case my attempt has been resisted and I have been told that such a proposal can only be carried out by a ‘nobody’ who has no connection with Israel or Palestine – no desire for any personal gain except to see a safe and happy environment in which the young children of two beautiful countries can grow up.
I hope Sir James that you are able to publish this letter in the VIOAS (Voice of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea) in the hope that I can capture some interest among the ‘nobodies’ on both sides of the conflict who after all like me make up the majority of the population.
Robert Gaines-Cooper is a self-made entrepreneur who through a combination of hard work and business acumen and more that his share of luck, developed successful businesses in different parts of the world.
In 1976, he immigrated to Seychelles where he built the Chelle Plastics factory and gained residency.
Subsequently, through his interest in two public quoted companies –
(i) Orthofix and
(ii) LMA (Laryngeal Mask Airway) – he became a wealthy individual by all international standards.
Since he became a citizen of Seychelles, he has constantly demonstrated his deep love of the country and provided generous assistance to the nation – particularly in the field of children’s welfare and well-being.