“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I was sitting in my tank in Gaza a week before leaving Israel for HBS. Instead of having farewells from friends and family, I went to war. As a captain in the IDF, this wasn't my first encounter with battle. But this time was different. This time I was afraid – afraid to die, afraid to leave my wife behind, afraid for the lives of my soldiers, brave reservists who dropped everything and went head on to war. But most of all I was afraid to die early; I felt I had so many things to accomplish. With the nearby explosions, that philosophical thought evaporated, and I started yelling commands on the radio.

Fast forward 6 months. I am working with a group of Arabs and Israelis on a conference promoting peace through economic cooperation. After the conference I grabbed a beer with Sari, a Palestinian entrepreneur from the West Bank. All my previous encounters with Palestinians were on the battlefield. But this time was different. Together we envisioned business models of joint Israeli-Palestinian companies. No politics, just people caught on opposing sides of a political disaster, dreaming of helping their communities through innovation. 

Having gone to war I have seen firsthand the devastation that might occur when politicians are at an impasse. I believe it's the responsibility of business leaders to step up and promote prosperity for their communities, where governments struggle to do so. I will work to bridge conflict through innovation and economic cooperation.

— Oded Eran