|Palestinian engineers Achmed Badir (top right) and Jafar Hajear (bottom right) of Ramallah-based Exalt Technologies meet with their Israeli teammates at Cisco near Tel Aviv, Oz Ben-Rephael (top left) and Michal Cohen (bottom left). Exalt provides R&D outsourcing to Cisco. Says Ben-Rephael: “I think it is amazing that we can overcome the distance. We just needed that common target.” Adds Badir: “There was a lot of curiosity by both sides.”(All pictures: Heidi Levine/Sipa Press for Forbes)|
Yet for all the mutual suspicion, collaborate they do. Buoyed by training, investment or partnerships from Israelis or Israeli subsidiaries of American companies, more than 300 Palestinian technology firms now employ 4,500 people, FORBES estimates, up from just 23 firms in the six-year period leading up to 2000. More are on the way: There’s at least $100 million in venture cash from Israeli or Western sources either looking for deals or recently put to work in Palestinian or Israeli Arab startups (with the latter community, representing one-fifth of the country’s citizenry, increasingly agitating to get in on the action). Meanwhile, Chambers and his peers at U.S. technology giants have pushed their Israeli subsidiaries to outsource research and development projects to Palestinian startups or to hire local Arabs.
This is the real backdrop for the renewed peace talks lurching forward under the aegis of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Feckless politicians will invariably look to blame the other side for inaction. The private sector’s detente is delivering results right now, with the intention of creating enough interconnected prosperity to make a lasting peace in everyone’s economic self-interest....READ MORE
[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]
Here’s the one thing that everyone in the Middle East tech industry agrees upon: This private-sector effort is not about charity. The Palestinians, flooded for years with foreign aid money that often gets misused and almost never sticks, accept partnerships with Israeli firms and Israeli offices of U.S. firms because it offers them perhaps the best chance to develop their economy–and do it in a way consistent with their proud culture.