Tina K. Russell

June 9, 2007

Tel Aviv I Said Hi

Filed under: information technology, israel, occupation, palestine, war — Tina Russell @ 11:40 pm

This makes me a sad panda. No, it makes me happy and sad. …Bittersweet. Israel has lots of brilliant young engineers that will make their country worth lots of money. That makes me happy because I want to see Israel succeed, and set an example for the rest of the world (like, say, us, though we seem to be perfectly happy to let our educational system degrade into nothingness while our dollar slips endlessly downward), and I think Israel would be a wonderful catalyst for getting IT infastructure out of the US-dominated rut it is in now (our online infastructure gathers dust while IT execs go to flashy conferences about “Web 2.0”). I think Israel has a lot of brilliant minds that I want to see brought into global discourse, and I want to see technology have that kind of major success story that allows people to see how it changes lives and the faces of countries, even countries staring down the threat of open hostility from its neighbors (and worst, the threat of a nuclear Iran going bonkers and pooshing da button).

It’s just… I wish that Friedman, in that article, had mentioned Palestine… I’m sure there are brilliant young minds over there that need nurturing, too. (To Friedman’s credit, he has been admirably pragmatic on the issue, saying that “if the US can talk to Iran, Israel can talk to Hamas.”) It’s not that there’s no opportunity in Palestine, it’s that the opportunity is limited by the Israeli government… I think the forces that partition Palestine, build walls through it, cripple its economy and generally make life miserable for Palestinians are far removed from the forces in Israel that start these wonderful new technology companies and those that educate its budding young talent… I just read about Israel and I’m happy for them and I have a bit of a lump in my throat because I feel like Palestine could be there, too, celebrating with them, on the same level, if it weren’t for meddling Israeli bureaucrats that can’t accept that, when two countries both claim “holy land,” they’re going to have to share no matter how illegitimate you think the other party’s beliefs are.

I just want to be pragmatic… with all the horrors going on in Palestine, a lousy economy and educational system and constant meddling by a corrupt and inept occupying government (that rather wishes they hadn’t taken Palestine in the first place; hey, you get what you pay for), I keep thinking, there’s got to be some way technology, new businesses, new ideas can solve this problem… Education, not money, is what brings people up from lower social classes, it sets the baseline for how much you’ll be able to achieve in life (vaguely; there are exceptions, but you’re not one). With the Internet, information is becoming closer and closer to free… I bet it would be easier than ever to establish a good educational system in Palestine… in fact, even with Israeli occupation education is becoming easier and easier, I would think, especially the kind of education that teaches young Palestinians that there is hope for them in the world and that they will not have to become the kind of deluded suicide bombers that blow themselves up in Israeli bakeries. (That’s what tees me off about Israel’s Palestine policy the most… if you want to bring down the number of suicide bombers, increase the amount of opportunity for young Palestinian citizens. That isn’t to forgive their heinous deeds, it’s just that a problem that’s really killing people needs a realistic approach and response, and anything that stops people from killing each other is good in my book.) Information will never have to be brought through an Israeli checkpoint or filtered through layers of occupational bureaucracy. I want to see an information economy succeed in Palestine, even when a physical economy cannot…

So, the next time Thomas Friedman rightly praises Israel for its successes in IT, I hope he gives a shout-out (and he might) to neighboring Palestine and its unnecessary suffering… I really admire Israel for its educational system and for its bustling technology hub in Tel Aviv. It’s just, whenever I read about it, I think, man, I bet Palestine could totally have a similar information economy with the right amount of investment and an easing of restrictions, and together with Israel they could achieve wonderful things for the whole world. So, when you cheer for Israel–and rightly so–give a thought to Palestine and help achieve the day when they can stand together in peace and prosperity.

(Yeah, I don’t like the terrorists in Palestine either… I just do not think Israel’s hard-line approach is working, especially when most Palestinians are like most Israelis and want a two-state solution. I wish Israel would try and support development and opportunity in Palestine, rather than choke it economically through checkpoints, double taxes, and bureaucracy, not to mention misguided military misadventures of mowing down innocent Palestinian citizens on their home turf, which all create the kind of environment that spawns terrorists and maintains them. I hope that Israel learns to distinguish between groups like Hamas, who are willing to negotiate but are, unfortunately, unwilling to give up the collateral of violence that Israel wants a monopoly on, and the kind of death-to-Israel fanatics who train those suicide bombers. I would lump those fanatics in with the fanatics in the Israeli government who think that a hard-line occupational approach can possibly succeed. There’s value in talking to Hamas as long as they are willing to talk… and there’s value in helping Palestine grow and succeed because it’s that kind of success that cuts off the terrorists. I don’t blame the average Israeli for this… this is the fault of people at the top who need to go… and the fault of the terrorists in Palestine who keep those chumps at the top of Israel’s government by shifting the debate just enough to keep them in power by firing rockets over Israel’s stupid wall.)

(That wall, by the way, goes _through_ Palestine, not around it… Israel has a right to defend its borders, of course, I just dislike their practice of partitioning Palestinian cities. Bitch, bitch, bitch…)

Of course, I hope people in Palestine know to ignore Israel as much as possible and be successful in spite of the occupation… living well is the best revenge, as they say, and the best way to protest Israeli bureaucracy is to live within it and still be successful, aggravating the hard-liners in the Israeli government who want to see the life squeezed out of Palestine. So, I hope, and I imagine, that an information economy can grow and prosper even under a violent and unnecessary occupation. So, support Palestinian growth, and invest in peace!

I wonder how big an open-source movement there is in Palestine. That would be a good thing! Information wants to be free! Help young Palestinians learn and grow, and you help make terrorism, war, and occupation a thing of the past. When I hear about a hot new Palestinian tech start-up, I’ll be happy… and I’m sure it won’t be long until then.

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