Palestinians and Israelis find Common Ground on Entrepreneurship

by Adeena Schlussel on behalf of Daniel Lubetzky

This great article in ReadWriteStart features a story about Startup Weekend, a Seattle based team of developers, marketers, and managers looking to facilitate startup launches, who recently partnered with the Peres Center for Peace (PC4P).  The goal? To enable Palestinians and Israelis to collaborate on projects that both produce valuable items and build bridges.  The Startup Weekend philosophy echoes the PeaceWorks belief that populations in conflict regions can cooperate in business endeavors and eventually build something much greater than the good or service they produce.

Palestinians, Israelis Come Together Through Entrepreneurship

Written by Chris Cameron / July 8, 2010 11:20 AM /

suweekend_jul10.jpgEntrepreneurship is a trait that knows no boundaries. Those that possess it come in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and genders, and in some places, the startup spirit is bringing together groups of people that are otherwise at odds with each other. Nowhere in the world is this more evident than in the middle east, where Palestinians and Israelis continue their centuries-long feud, but one organization is throwing all of that out in the name of entrepreneurship and peace.

Seattle-based entrepreneurship launch-pad Startup Weekend has been hosting events since just 2007, but has already expanded to over 100 cities in more than 25 countries around the globe. One of truly inspiring chapters of the organization exists in Tel Aviv, Israel, a city poised just an hour’s drive from Jerusalem and The Gaza Strip.

It is here, however, that Startup Weekend has joined forces with the Peres Center for Peace (PC4P) to provide an opportunity for Palestinian and Israeli entrepreneurs to collaborate on their ideas for the future. In a recent interview withStartup Digest’s Chris McCann, Startup Weekend Tel Aviv coordinator Amir Harel explained how the event is bridging gaps and launching cool products.

"Once you enter into the Startup Weekend event, there is no Israeli, Palestinian, or American – there are entrepreneurs, developers, investors, designers working together to build technology and have fun," says Harel. "We are not taking any political stand, and we are not associated with any political group – we just want to send a message – we can do things different, we can do things better, and it needs to come from the ground up."

While many associate Startup Weekend with Internet companies, the events are not specifically tech-centric. At the last event in Tel Aviv – which saw 130 participants, 50 pitches and 13 projects undertaken – one team modified a computer keyboard into a guitar which could be strummed with a mouse and whose function keys served as frets. According to Harel, the next Tel Aviv event, slated for later this month, is the groups attempt to take things to next level.


"Startup Weekend is such an amazing platform to bridge gaps, we decided to focus on the greatest one — the one between Palestinians and Israelis," says Harel. "I decided that like with Startup Weekend, I should do something to make a change. I see it as my own, yet small, contribution to increase the chance for a peace."

With help from sponsors like PayPal, Google andIBM, Startup Weekend Tel Aviv has made it possible for 20-30 Palestinians to attend the upcoming event. They limit the number of Palestinians because arranging for the government to authorize their participation is a hefty effort and Startup Weekend is providing hotel space for them.

While this limitation is not an ideal situation, the efforts being made by Harel and his partner Eddy Resnick to bring these two groups together is inspiring. The next event, July 14th through 16th, is already quickly filling up, so if you’re interested in attending be sure to check out the registration page as just a few tickets are left in each category. If you’re unable to make it to Tel Aviv, take a gander at Startup Weekend’s event map to find a city near you where you can participate.

Photo by Flickr user mockstar.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

related posts

post a new comment