Despite the killings, Israel’s tech scene continues to thrive

Despite the killings, Israel’s tech scene continues to thrive

Female Palestinian stabs Jewish man in Jerusalem; Rogue Wave Software acquires Israeli Zend Technologies.

Palestinian stabs Israeli soldier in southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, then shot dead by police; Israeli security company CyberArk, now valued at almost $1.7 billion, buys Viewfinity for $30.5 million.

This is what the rhythm of my personal news feed felt like on Wednesday while managing the site of Geektime, one of the leading global technology blogs, currently headquartered in Tel Aviv.

Since Wednesday, which marked the start of multiple stabbing, rock throwing, and/or car bombing attacks per day against Israelis, there have been more than 10 stabbings by Palestinians against Jewish Israelis and at least one known stabbing by a Jewish Israeli against Arabs.

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There have also been increasing Palestinian demonstrations:Israeli soldiers have killed nine protesters in the Gaza Strip since Friday, opening fire at crowds in response to rocks and burning tires being hurled at the fence between Gaza and Israel, as well as attempted infiltrations.

Tensions in the West Bank have grown since Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel visited Temple Mount on the eve of Rosh Hashana, which Hamas and the Islamic Movement cited as evidence that Israel was changing the status of Muslims on the Mount, where Al-Aqsa mosque compound is located.

On October 1, two Israelis in the West Bank were shot dead in their car in front of their children, and on October 3, two Israelis were stabbed to death on their way to pray at the Western Wall.

Yet Israel’s hi-tech sector moves along during these scary, sad, and seemingly hopeless times. Despite the summer war with Hamas, Israeli startups raised an unprecedented amount of money in 2014, securing more funding in the fourth quarter of last year than any quarter in the past five years.

Even in the third quarter, which saw Israel’s general economy contract for the first time in more than five years, tech startups raised $701 million, $50 million more than in the third quarter of 2013.

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Can Israeli hi-tech success somehow positively affect the political situation?

There have been various efforts from the Israeli hi-tech sector to foster better relations between Israelis and Palestinians. In 2013, there was an Israeli-Palestinian businessmen-led initiative supporting a peace agreement, which included major venture capitalist Yossi Vardi.

YaLa Young Leaders, a group that the Peres Center for Peace and YaLa Palestine started in 2011, is a Facebook-based movement that encourages dialogue and engagement among Israeli and Palestinian youth: At last count, it has close to 1 million likes. The Israeli government has also increased efforts to recruit Arabs into hi-tech jobs and incubators such as NazTech in Nazareth and Takwin Labsin Haifa support strong Arab-led startups in Israel.

While these actions may increase coexistence, shape public opinion, and integrate Arab Israelis better into hi-tech, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is and always will be a political one. In my view, only politicians will be able to fix it, for better and as of late, mostly for worse.

It is commendable that more and more successful Israeli companies have kept offices in Israel rather than relocate most of their staff abroad. But if violence increases, Israeli startups’ international facing nature could lure more tech professionals to resettle in their foreign branches.

It is up to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to settle the violence, ever come to some kind of agreement, and ultimately, create places where residents with means will want to stay.

Read Next: 5 reasons behind Israel’s startup success

Image credit: Shutterstock

This post first appeared on Geektime. 

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