That Israel is a world leader in high-tech is well known, but a story you’re unlikely to see much coverage about – Israeli companies outsourcing IT work to Palestinians. Proof that in the 21st century, IT is a language that transcends all cultural, economic and political barriers.
Although peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian politicians may have reached an unfortunate impasse, AP reports that an increasing number of Israeli high-tech companies are doing work with their Palestinian counterparts in the West Bank.
For some Israelis, this is their own small way of making a positive contribution to an otherwise troubled part of the world. To others, it’s “because it simply makes good business sense.”
Traditionally, many Israeli high tech firms sent their work offshore to Eastern Europe, India or China. However, in the last 3 years, they have increasingly turned to their Palestinian neighbors and have found that not only are they smart, ambitious and hard working, but “the cultural gap is much smaller than we would think,” said Gai Anbar, chief executive of Comply, an Israeli start-up that develops software for global pharmaceutical companies like Merck and Teva.
And here’s the thing – many Palestinians have also warmed to the idea. “I doubt you would find a company who says, ‘I am closed for business‘” to Israelis, said Ala Alaeddin, chairman of the Palestinian Information Technology Association.
Although the Palestinian workers cost less to the Israeli companies than do Israelis, they still earn on average more than say their Indian or Chinese counterparts, and more importantly – than the average Palestinian salary in the West Bank (and certainly more than in Gaza, where such ‘collaboration’ would be tantamount to treason in the eyes of the ruling Hamas). It is an opportunity for them not just to put food on the table for their families, but like their Israeli counterparts, also a chance to make a positive contribution to peace between the two people.
So here’s the thing – next time you think about boycotting, divesting from or sanctioning Israeli companies, remember this – you’re not only hurting Israelis, but you’re hurting the Palestinians and hopes for peace even more.