I would imagine Israel is the regional tech hub, even if there are few to no interactions with tech people in Gaza. Would it be more accurate to say the gulf is the regional tech hub for these programmers' day to day lives?
Cool places to work at: Dubizzle (Python + Django) and JadoPado (PHP I believe).
Thanks for mentoring and doing what you can there. I'd like to go and see some extended family sometime myself.
Edit: How available are things like computers? I remember when my dad brought electronics over as gifts it was usually something more-or-less unattainable, but this was years ago: Super Nintendos and things like that.
Despite all of this, you would never be able to guess of any of his past after talking to him. In fact, the only reason I knew to talk to him is because I overhead someone else mention his past. He’s the most upbeat, jovial guy at the space who was on his way to the U.K. in a couple days with an eye on a seed round for a startup he’s working on. One might expect atleast some chip on the shoulder, some bitterness, maybe even a little anger. I haven’t seen that from him or any of other Gazans I’ve met and that—more than anything else—has been the biggest surprise for me on this trip."
This is amazing.
The author does not know the history of the land, nor does he claim to. But by drawing HN's readership to the quote about personal loss it's my guess that you're trying to politicize the issue. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's my hunch. I've seen many people use similar tactics before.
I am drawing attention to the amazing human resiliency, and what can we learn from it.
There are ground rules every mentor had to agree to before going. We could not go anywhere unaccompanied - Who's rule is this?
So. Many. Questions!
No one had any problems at the border. Everyone is super professional and courteous. Those that were muslim and/or of palestinian decent took slightly longer.
I took my own laptop. The only different thing is you have to leave it open (but not unlocked) when it goes through the scanner.
We were mostly confined inside the incubator or a hotel so we had wifi most of the time. I think it's 2G or 3G otherwise. Not sure if by an Israeli carrier or a Palestinian one.
The rules are set by the parent organization, Mercy Corps. They receive the bulk of their funding from USAID and my guess is those ground rules are impacted by that.
Any idea why this info is required?
Security: Are you a member of a Hebrew congregation?
Person: Yes, such and such a synagogue
Security: Who is the Rabbi there?
A legit person might say "Oh it's Rabbi so-and-so", but if a person hesitates, and has to think, and blurts out an answer like "Rabbi Cohen" then it is less likely they are being forthcoming.
In some sense, this is a very rough mental-Bayesian process of probability updating. A person arrives at the border / El-Al check-in. Security assigns some prior probability p_0 that a person should be allowed access, and via a string of questions, amongst other techniques, a posterior probability p_n that that person should be on that flight / in Israel is established.
Family names - my guess is to perform a more rigorous background check. This is probably more relevant for people of Palestinian descent.
As for the rest, I don't know but I hear they have some issues both with rockets as well as (often) clueless western demonstrants so getting being careful and getting good background information on visitors does sound like the right thing to do.
Were there any female instructors? If there had been some could they have led a female-only session in the evening?
On the first day of the 48 hour hackathon, all female participants had to
leave by 6:30 PM. This is because, under Sharia law, women cannot hang out
with men they are not related or married to late into the evening.
Relevant here because there are countries that follow Sharia that don't enforce such a curfew.
And I'm sure the rest would take a lawyer to interpret, just like everywhere else, because the commoner interpretation of "why" is different than the legal or religious interpretation of "why"
That's a good idea. I don't know to be honest.
Maybe the best way to combine a hackathon and political activism is to hold them in places where people do not shot political activists. Its not the best choice, but what is the alternative?
Of course, Hamas is run by crazy people; who knows if and how they'd react. I didn't mean to say that my imagined response would be without any risks either. It certainly takes courage to do anything against Hamas from within Gaza.
I wanted to ask if you felt in any danger at any time. Either in Gaza on onroute through the checkpoints?
What are the ambitions of the participants? Do they want to work / set up companies in Gaza or work abroad?
It's a mix - I couldn't tell you the proportions off the top of my head. There are hard emigration realities that force Gazans to do the former.
Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see your post was thoughtful, kept politics out of it and remained focused.
You're helping Gazans live better lives by teaching them a trade skill. That's a real kindness you did. Kudos.
so I found that interesting.
On a more serious note, this sounds like an amazing experience and I'm very glad you decided to share it with us.
You touched on it - but was there much political talk at all? Or was it just the normal kind of conversations?
How was their english?
There's general angst against Hamas. There's universal mistrust of Israel. There's a good deal of division on how to engage with the Israelis / what to negotiate for.
Their English is good. They could understand everything I said. Sometimes it took them awhile to express certain words and phrases. During the hackathon pitches, about half the teams opted to speak in Arabic. In these instances, judges were paired with translators.
Thanks for writing this up and taking those photos. I could not have imagined there are places in Gaza that are just like my own office. It looks like a great place to be.
edit - so many more questions:
Besides the curfew, were the girls treated / educated the same as the guys?
Did people have modern hardware? Do you know if it was difficult for them to obtain?
Did any of them work as software engineers for local Gaza based companies?
If you live in Gaza, it's very difficult to travel out of it. The southern border to Egypt is closed. The northern border (which is the one we went through) is open but you need permits to enter Israel. The military takes its time with the permits and it's not always guaranteed you will get one. This makes a commuting sort of setup impossible.
The women there were treated and educated the same. Some of them outshined the guys.
I saw modern laptops and screens where ever I went. Definitely more Android than iPhone. There is difficulty around bringing in 3D printers.
I did not meet any Gazans who worked for local companies. Most seemed to work for the gulf or were working on startups aimed for deployment in the gulf.
While Gazans don't really have the option of working directly for companies in Israel because of the travel restrictions, there are IT outsourcing firms in Gaza who contract for Israeli companies. We worked with such a firm in one of my previous job, and I even had the chance to speak to their engineers on the phone once or twice. (Conversation was entirely in English, since they didn't understand Hebrew, and my Arabic is less than stellar to make a huge understatement.) I didn't personally have the chance to meet them face-to-face, but a few of the higher-ups went. The meetings were understandably rare and not easy to arrange, and they had to take place in specified locations in the vicinity of the border checkpoint, as the Palestinian engineers were limited in their allowed travel within Israel. (And the Israelis aren't allowed into Gaza at all.)
This argument was often made against anti-apartheid sanctions on South Africa. The answer was that it was for the oppressed population to decide.
2 - The situation is very different from the south-African "apartheid". Gaza is a sovereign territory with an hostile religious fanatic government that forced Egypt and Israel to maintain highly secured borders. The Israeli law does not discriminate its citizens and there are Palestinian parliament members and judges.
3 - By employing both Israelis and Palestinians, companies actually contribute more to peace and equality than BDS ever will.
One of the most comprehensive sources on the Israel apartheid comparison is here:
> By employing both Israelis and Palestinians, companies actually contribute more to peace and equality than BDS ever will.
A bunch of human rights organizations have evidence that the Palestinians are exploited as a cheap labor that is outside of Israeli labor protections:
It would be cool if Israeli companies adopted somethign akin to the Sullivan principles which were adopted by ethical South African companies during the apartheid era:
Then you know they are not just using Palestinian labor for cost saving reasons, but the companies are showing support and are working towards breaking down the system of inequality that is currently in place there.
There is no inequality inherent in the system. The fact that Palestinian nationals (who are not Israeli citizens) are mostly employed in cheap jobs is no different from Filipinos or Chinese being employed in cheap jobs abroad. Israeli Arabs have the same rights as Jews, in everything from education to employment. They even get preferential acceptance to universities (lower acceptance requirements).
Claiming there is an apartheid in Israel is simply FUD.
So no, you don't get to say the rest of the world do the same as Israel. To do so is FUD. Israel is one of a kind. I understand why Israel had always had a defensive posture and thinking. Lots of shit happened in the past. But today? Israel is strong, and it is doing too much to keep the Gazans down. What other country blows up 20000 houses and slaughtered hundreds of civilians in response to 2 terrorist deaths?
Just last week, four people were murdered in a restaurant (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June_2016_Tel_Aviv_shooting). Can you imagine this Happening in Melbourne? Can you imagine a thing like this, sponsored by the New Zealand government who immediately declares the murderers as heroes and buys houses for their families?
There have been numerous incidents like this in the last couple of years and like before, since no one can live under terror attacks, a war will start. Like before, you will only hear about the retaliation, you will only see photos of destruction on the Palestinian side. You won't see how Hamas executes is own people for "collaborating" with Israel (or just because they don't like them), how it forces them to serve as human shields for its deadly rockets. You will criticize Israel out of understandable, but very misplaced sympathy.
You claiming his FUD claiming is FUD, is FUD.
It's all very simple, really. Israel is like the rest of the world and we're all just waiting for the world to realize the actual problem, which is:
--The crazy, murderous, religious fanatics who want rule the world (and kill all Jews, but I'm not sure anyone cares about this detail)--
(it's shocking we could not all just get along...)
Exploiting an occupied population does nothing to contribute to peace. It would be better for Israeli companies to leave Palestinians alone as a labor force and employ Israelis.
The Palestinians are a different country. In South Africa they are all one country so they have to work together.
In contrast with Palestinians it's a different country entirely, so when you prevent them from working, you have little effect on Israel at all, you just hurt the Palestinians.
Well, no. Some black areas in South Africa (and South West Africa under South Africa's occupation) were converted into notionally internally self-governing regions, but of the twenty (10 each in South and South West Africa), only 10 (4 in South Africa, 6 in South West Africa) were ever even nominally (that is, according to the South African government -- no other government recognized any of them) independent states, and, in any case, there were a lot of black areas in South (and South West) Africa that were not part of either these "homelands", whether the notionally independent ones are otherwise.
(Now, in 1970, all of the black people of South Africa, whether they lived in the "homelands" or not, were assigned citizenship in one of them and had their South African citizenship cancelled. But that doesn't mean that the "homelands" covered all the black areas.)
I would be pretty surprised if you can find even one example. Heck, I'd be surprised if you can even find an example of a software engineer living in Gaza that has ever worked for an Israeli company at all.
Or, perhaps, an example of someone living in Gaza attending an Israeli university (they can't).
Cause that's what I thought we were talking about?
> Cause that's what I thought we were talking about?
Maybe. The narrative of the thread seemed to have moved to Palestinians working for Israeli companies in general. Sorry if I misunderstood.
There's a big clue in that name.
> Or, perhaps, an example of someone living in Gaza attending an Israeli university (they can't).
Yes — Gaza citizens wanted independence, and they got it, with everything that goes along. I'm pretty sure that there are PA citizens learning in israeli universities though, especially Ariel.
Ariel is probably the worst example you could have chosen. Palestinian residents of the West Bank are not allowed to enter the settlement of Ariel that Ariel University is in, so that seems unlikely. I'm pretty sure there are zero PA citizens enrolled at Ariel.
I would not be surprised if there are zero PA citizens enrolled at any Israeli universities, I'm not 'pretty sure' there are zero, but pretty sure there are very very few if any, and possibly zero or nearly so. (see for example http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2009/05/28/banning-palesti... http://gisha.org/press/1033 )
The suggestion that Gaza residents have obtained "everything that goes along with independence" is too ridiculous to say much more about.
Could you give a few hints on what were the ideas in the pitch ? Was it about religion ? dating ? or were there some ideas more specific to their condition ?
* Homee (pronounced homie as in “what’s up homie”) - a marketplace where people can buy and sell homemade goods. Think Etsy. This group ended up winning first place.
* Debate Time - a mobile app where you can review a product by submitting a video of yourself talking about it. Others reply in video form too.
* Diet Time - a mobile app that let’s you enter what you ate and then tells you how much exercise you need to burn it off.
Is there any program for remote google-hangout type help, or remote buddy system, or something?
Everyone used Skype for remote work.
Also, consider what policies your fellow citizens might support if your country was surrounded by hostile neighbours. I mean, 40% of the American public supports the "Mexico Wall", even though Mexico is an important trade partner and poses no military threat to the US. Imagine if Mexico and Canada were to declare their intent to destroy the US...
(not assuming you are American, above is just an example)
Regarding Israel's (the regime) support of the west bank and gaza: it's more like a prison where, despite the inmates' violent behavior trying to get out, you must support them because you're holding the key to their cells since the victory in the war. Is it right for either side to repeatedly reach out to violence as a bargaining chip? No, it's not, but not every tribe of this world subscribes to Mahatma's strategy. Well, the Norwegians did successfully when peacefully opposing the German invasion, but again, different populations act and think differently.
I don't pick sides in this debate, but it's important to put things into perspective. Yes, other nations may have decimated them. Yes, both regimes have a history of undiplomatic approaches to finding consensus. No, Israel (the regime) doesn't support them out of good will.
Just for the record - most people here want peace and are willing to make sacrifices for it. If only it were that simple.
Lav davka. Most people want peace for free, and don't see why they should have to do the work of siding with filthy smolanim to counter the settlement movement when the Palestinians aren't trustworthy anyway.
Try attending an antiwar demo and being yelled at that you're a traitor and a dirty Arab if you think most Israelis want peace so much.
If most Israelis wanted peace, they wouldn't vote for the Right.
This doesnt mean they dont want peace, it just means they want ssecurity first.
Some of you might enjoy this report by 9 retired high-ranking military people from different countries:
"It could be worst, at least they aren't gassing them in camps"
SolidRun  which makes Cubox and Hummingboard (popular micro ARM boxes, among other things), is also founded and run by arab Israelis.
Of note, I have met quite a few arab israelis in technolgoy, and every single one was from a christian family background. I'm sure there must also be arab israeli muslims into technology (among arab israelis, muslim outnumber christians 10:1) - but I have not yet met any in my travels.
I'm curious how did you find out about the event in the first place?
Google for Entrepreneurs provides some financial assistance to Gaza Sky Geeks which is probably why they put it in the mailing list in the first place.
Why am I not surprised.
They took almost a month to reply. Apparently, Israelis are not welcome. It's a shame that my only way to experience my neighbors is through serving in an armed forces war.
While I understand it can be frustrating not to be able to attend, certainly you can understand that it may be hard for at least some of the attendants to interact with you without prejudice, and therefore that it's significantly easier to plan without you.
Blame the cause, not the consequence.
And vice-versa. The poster couldn't help but publicly write: "We hate the Gazan government". At least this individual will bring hate for their elected government. (And not just this one person, given the ominous "we".)
I've had no problem assisting marginalized groups, as a privileged person. Because I don't center it on myself, as if I'm entitled to "experience my neighbors". As if the alternative is "serving in an armed forces war" against them, the extreme form of violence.
The hackathon's organizers are clearly competent. Creating at least a somewhat safe environment for learners. As we can see, they would have been fools to do otherwise.
Maybe you could organise a fundraiser to sponsor gazans to come to israel instead. They might like a chance to get out and have new experiences.
It's a shame, I really do believe me and others like me have a lot to contribute and we're interested in contributing.
We hate the Gazan government but we don't hate the Gaza population. I would really want to see them prosper like Israel and what better way than technology and what better way to bring it to them than to code together. We're on the same time zone too.
So, if unarmed israeli would find himself on his own in Gaza, we would have a full-fledged security crisis which would probably lead to the next war (because the dude most likely would be killed) instead of a hackathon.
According to the ceasefires which Israel has signed with Hamas, it's supposed to alleviate the siege on the strip, but it has never lived up to those ceasefires, whereas Hamas has. Continuing to devastate the territory economically, of course the people there will revolt!
If not for the extremists controlling the Strip, and dominating the hearts and minds of its residents, Gaza could be a high tech paradise: foreign investment there could be huge, with Israeli factories and tech centers set up, agricultural enterprises, and billion dollar Mediterranean resorts along the gorgeous coast.
Regarding the history of Israel and the Palestinians, You should look at the history of the occupation. In the Gaza Strip, the 5m high walls concrete walls between the few thousand settlers who use way more resources, occupied about 1/3rd of the land, while over a million people lived around them in poverty. It's very cruel and brutal apartheid/imperialism by Israel understandably made Gazans angry. Things like arbitrary detention, mass torture of Palestinians, assassinations and so on which are the underpinning of the military occupation, this is what pushes people to extremism.
15 years ago there used to be a bombing every week.
Yes the wall is working well for Israel, it's annexed more of the West Bank by default, and is disrupting the lives of Palestinians massively, and also the migration of wildlife.
There's been quite a lot of violence lately, death toll is still pretty high since late 2015.
- As they should, but you got it the other way around. They should rise against the fanatics among them who aim for Islam domination, the destruction of Israel. Those continuously attempting to kill innocent people.
Seriously, why do you think the naval blockade is in place? How does Israel benefits from it?
In any case, there are also a couple of facts you need to look into.
"Israel is in control of Gaza"
- Gaza is ruled by Hamas and it also has a border with Egypt
"it has never lived up to those ceasefires"
- When did they actually ceased to fire? (you know, you can't just occasionally bomb the other side during a ceasefire)
There were have been ceasefires in 2008 and 2012 where there were no rocket attacks. Hamas lived up to it. Most rocket attacks were in reponse to an Israeli action. It's a long history which I don't have time to go through now but has been covered by observers like Noam Chomsky. http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175892/
- What exactly do you mean by Palestine? if you mean Gaza and the West Bank, then who are the hostile countries? Egypt, Jordan and Israel? Even if they are all "hostile" what do they gain by maintaining an expensive naval blockade (and providing alternative, regulated by security checks, routes, which also cost those "hostile" countries a lot of money)?
"There were have been ceasefires in 2008 and 2012 where there were no rocket attacks"
"Most rocket attacks were in reponse to an Israeli action"
- Absolute lies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Palestinian_rocket_att..., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Palestinian_rocket_att.... I live here in the missile range. Noam Chomsky, a great linguist, an "Observer" from a different continent, is not a very good historian.
Ok I live in Pretoria, South Africa, where do you stay? Sderot?
Chomsky is a very fine scholar on Israel, one of the greatest. Very much worth reading, particularly "The Fateful Triangle" He was a Zionist, lived there.
Oh you mean like many Israelis don't just declare the intent to annex the west bank, but actually have settlements there / support them? The declarations are numerous, here's a recent and particularly shameless one.
> Bennett also indirectly criticized Netanyahu for opposing a Palestinian state before the 2015 elections and supporting it after the elections.
> "The time has come to say clearly: The land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel," Bennett said. "In Hebrew, English, Russian and French; in summer and in winter; when there are elections and when there aren't. Why? Because the world listens to every word we say."
> "The world identifies weakness just as it identifies strength," Bennett added. "The world smells when we aren't certain about our right to the land and attacks us furiously with boycotts.
The people who want to annex the other side - which exist on both sides - each can't be excused with those on the other side.
> being threatened with destruction
Not really credibly so, and all the while while expanding settlements, demolishing houses, targeting human rights organizations, killing people and even faking evidence such as https://twitter.com/Channel2News/status/737971602260889600/v... - and other such things which all fall under "definitely not agreeing with many decisions" I would assume.
Yes, there's plenty of terrorism sold as "freedom fighting", and I agree it's terrorism. There's also plenty of blaming Israel for everything while not even criticizing Hamas or the absolutely useless Palestinian authorities. But this tale of bleeding heart Israel trying to do the very best, and being so misunderstood? Just look at a map, even that says a lot.
Right, and that's after you said "A far right politician in Israel does not represent the entire country".
> is very misunderstood by people who have little or no knowledge of the history and facts of the situation.
Notice how you didn't substantiate any of your claims, call the settlements "controversial" and seem to think that they are on "barren land" (right) would be relevant even if it was true, instead of a clear breach of Geneva conventions.
Even if you could justify an occupation, you cannot justify the settlements and the intention they represent, the deed that is being done, and trying to push that on "far right politicians" while treating Palestinians as a monolith, is just having a double standard.
I never claimed Palestinians have "moral superiority" and never would, because that's not how it works outside of sophistry. You don't work out who is worse, and then use them as a scapegoat for everything while absolving those who are "not the worst". Individual crimes do matter, and remain crimes even if the other party commits more. Which is not to be confused with "just because there are unsubstantiated claims the other party commits more", either. And all of that also applies to the "pro-Palestinians" who rage about how "the Zionists" are the worst, and how Israel is the worst. They peddle the exact same logic with roles reversed. "Don't criticize us, criticize them!"
The so-called occupation is a military administration begun after retreating Arab armies ceded the territories in 1967. This arrangement is legal and covered under international conventions. The U.S. did it in Japan and Germany for five years; the Soviet Union did it in eastern Europe for 45 years. The Chinese illegally occupied the vast lands of Tibet in 1950 and show no signs of letting go and the U.N. says nothing.
The Israelis withdrew from Gaza in 2005, forcibly removing the settlers, and were rewarded with 11,000 rockets. 11,000! They have every right to inspect cargo that enters Gaza; the Syrians and Iranians have long tried to import deadly weapons into that sorry land, and if they ever succeeded, Israel would have no choice but to reduce the place to rubble finally and completely and drive the Arabs from there back into Egypt which is where their ancestors came from 100-150 years previously.
As for "didn't substantiate any of your claims" for Pete's sake open up a newspaper once in a while. Two Jewish women in their 80s were just stabbed to death in Israel -- reports say they begged Arab workers nearby to call emergency services and the Arabs ignored them. Two elderly women in their eighties. Just today, probably while the above commenter was writing that stuff, there was a shooting attack in Tel Aviv, two Arab brothers from Hebron just opened up in a restaurant and killed four people and wounded several others before the police shot and wounded them. The Hamas leader, mistakenly believing one to be killed, called him a "hero". Just today. One of thousands of similar such incidents. Sophistry indeed. This is war, an ongoing and bitter war to drive the Jews out or kill them all. Israelis are totally justified and indeed should be doing a lot more.
That wasn't because they removed the settlers, that's because they simply flat out withdrew.
> As for "didn't substantiate any of your claims" for Pete's sake open up a newspaper once in a while.
I know about the terrorist attacks, but that doesn't make the settlement land all "barren", it doesn't mean they "They have responded to every peace offering with horrific, murderous violence" -- it wasn't Palestinians who killed Rabin, you know -- and it doesn't fuse Palestinians into one monolith, something which you pointed out about Israelis but seem unable or unwilling to acknowledge here.
To what "peace offering" are the recent terrorist attacks a response? Who claimed they have "moral superiority", how is such a dichotomy be useful? Listing off instances of terrorism if I didn't know that, when I even said
> there's plenty of terrorism sold as "freedom fighting"
does not substantiate anything but one claim, one you didn't even make, namely "there is terrorism". I mean yeah, duh. My comment takes that into account from the get go. You claimed "there is terrorism in response to every peace offer", that's not the same thing.
> The so-called occupation is a military administration begun after retreating Arab armies ceded the territories in 1967. This arrangement is legal and covered under international conventions. The U.S. did it in Japan and Germany for five years; the Soviet Union did it in eastern Europe for 45 years.
Same here -- your point being? I know that, but since occupation can not forever, at least not as intention, and settlements are never okay, what I said is true now, where it's easy to justify occupation, and also when it might not be.
You can't talk peace while expanding settlements by force. Leibowitz was and remains right, it's just colonialism. And even if there is nobody to talk to atm, don't take what's not yours, and don't confuse self-defense and abuse. That goes for everybody at all times. I'm all for Israeli not taking shit, but to not see how driving out Palestinians also MUST be the intention of people who don't want them to have a state, that's just dishonest. To say "oh those are just far-right politicians, those don't count", isn't made up for with listing atrocities.
> Israelis are totally justified
With what, exactly? Just generally? Because they are "the victim"? I just explained why it doesn't work that way, if you want to dispute that, do so.
He was in the coalition!
Have the native Americans still completely accepted in their heart, their peace with (or surrender to) the settlers?
It would have been odd if people living in a territory that had electricity for six hours daily and mostly closed/highly regulated borders didn't have normal conversation about topics that are, inherently, political.
That is not the same thing as "you immediately lose your citizenship". Does this actually happen frequently?