Ohad Elhelo Speaks His Peace by Fostering Entrepreneurship
The founder of Our Generation Speaks is hoping to help solve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict—one startup at a time.
When I moved to Boston, I looked at the Palestinian conflict from afar for the first time, and it was devastating. As someone who served in the Israeli military and lived this conflict, I wanted to play a role, if not in ending the conflict, then at least in delivering a better future.
How do you bring millions of Israelis and Palestinians together? When I was studying at Brandeis, I saw the energy of the Boston community and people attending events and joining nonprofits. I thought, What if we invested in a small group of leaders in my generation and taught them how to trust each other?
Every year, we identify 30 of the best and brightest Israelis and Palestinians and host them at Brandeis for the summer, and they come up with ideas for companies they want to build that have a social-impact component. They go back to Israel and Palestine with funding for the companies that they formed together, and we support them.
You build trust through entrepreneurship. If you build a startup, you look at the people working with you as partners.
When you are trying to create a new narrative, it feels like you are not a champion of your country. That’s part of the reason why it is so complicated to build a venture in this area of conflict, but it’s also why it is so impactful. We need to give people the chance to come together and interact around things that they believe in.