Today marks the formation of a coalition known as Tech for Palestine, comprising over 40 individuals from the tech realm including founders, investors, and engineers. This initiative is dedicated to creating open source projects, tools, and data that support advocacy efforts for the Palestinian cause within the tech industry.
The coalition’s establishment occurs amidst heightened tensions in the region, particularly following the recent conflict in Gaza, which resulted in significant casualties and the displacement of millions of Palestinians. This situation has sparked a debate within the global tech community, highlighting a contrast in viewpoints.
While Israel, recognized for its vibrant tech and startup scene, has received considerable support from various tech figures and institutions, there has also been a growing voice advocating for peace and supporting Palestinian rights. This advocacy, however, has not been without its challenges, as some individuals have faced professional repercussions for their stance on the issue.
Tech for Palestine launches
Paul Biggar, the founder of Tech for Palestine, is committed to increasing awareness about the Gaza war, advocating for a lasting ceasefire, and offering support avenues for those hesitant to publicly back Palestine. This initiative stands as one of the first tech-driven efforts openly supporting Palestine, potentially marking a pivotal shift in the venture industry’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, as more voices rally for a ceasefire.
Biggar, also the founder of CircleCI, valued at $1.7 billion, catalyzed the formation of this coalition following a widely-shared blog post that critiqued the tech industry’s lackluster support for Palestinians. He observed a significant response to his post, with thousands expressing support, albeit many privately due to concerns about their careers.
He noted, “Dozens of people not only speaking up but who had started projects to change the industry to ensure that people speaking up for Palestine could be heard. Dozens of others were volunteering to help.” This led to Biggar connecting these individuals, culminating in the rapid assembly of the Tech for Palestine community.
The Tech for Palestine platform, though still in its nascent stages, is shaping up as a hub for collaborative projects and a resource-sharing space, reflecting the private initiatives of many pro-Palestinian tech workers. High-profile individuals like Idris Mokhtarzada, founder of the successful startup Truebill, are already involved in developing the platform. Early achievements include the creation of a GitHub badge advocating for a ceasefire and HTML snippets for website banners supporting the same cause.
Biggar has outlined future plans for Tech for Palestine, aiming to forge stronger connections with Palestinian organizations and support Palestinian startups through mentorship and cloud credits. This initiative comes in the wake of reports from TechCrunch about the devastating impact of the war on Palestine’s emerging tech industry.
Arfah Farooq, founder of Muslamic Makers, reflects on the transformative past few months marked by unprecedented unity and activism. She was motivated to join Tech for Palestine after being inspired by Biggar’s viral blog post. Farooq has already begun circulating resources on supporting Palestine. “Due to the siege, we can’t go to Gaza and help on the ground, but we help regardless of where we are in the world,” she commented, highlighting the global nature of this digitally-driven humanitarian effort.
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An engineer, preferring anonymity, joined the Tech for Palestine coalition driven by a sense of stiflement in their professional environment. They have committed to contributing as both an engineer and product manager, aiming to develop valuable resources for the initiative. Expressing optimism about the coalition’s impact, they remarked, “I hope this initiative will spark a significant shift and give people their voices back.”
Additionally, a former tech brand marketer, currently cautious about public statements due to potential implications on their job search, shared with TechCrunch a sense of relief in finding a way to support the cause through Tech for Palestine. “This period has been incredibly isolating to Arabs, Muslims, and other people of color in VC and tech,” she observed. She emphasized the importance of Tech for Palestine, especially at a time when global calls for peace and the recognition of Palestinian humanity are growing, challenging the tech community to break its silence.
The urgency of Tech for Palestine’s mission is underscored by the escalating death toll among Palestinians. Recent reports indicate U.S. officials urging Israel to enhance civilian protection in Gaza, while reaffirming unwavering support for Israeli security.
In the midst of these developments, Biggar remains hopeful that the coalition will herald a broader trend of advocacy and outspokenness. “The narrative has only just turned,” he stated. “We are working to enable many more who feel silenced to speak out, we are only getting started.” This statement encapsulates the burgeoning movement within the tech industry, signaling a significant shift towards active engagement and advocacy for Palestinian rights.
Featured image credit: Levi Meir Clancy/Unsplash