Monday, June 2, 2008

Working in an Israeli-Palestinian Startup

University of life


I am a Russian-Israeli working in G.ho.st, the first Palestinian-Israeli startup in history (more about us: http://antonbar.blogspot.com/2008/05/ghost-on-news.html). I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and came to Israel in 1991. Here I received my education, married my wife (a US-born Israeli), and started a family. My three daughters were born in Jerusalem.

During the last few years, I was the CTO of a high-tech company specializing in enterprise content management. I was bored to death and was desperately looking for something new and exciting until one day, my Headhunter agent called and asked – “What do you think about working with Palestinians from the West Bank in Ramallah?"...

And so the real learning began...


Geography


At the moment of writing G.ho.st employs 35 Palestinians in Ramallah and 6 Israelis in Modiin. We are so close to each other – if I was allowed, I could drive to our Ramallah office faster than back home! And yet, there are walls, fences and army checkpoints…

Politics


Israelis are not allowed to visit the Palestinian territories and Palestinians must receive special permits to visit Israel. Even if they receive permits, there is no common public transportation and all the alternative solutions are rather expensive.

Communications


We have a company to run, we have to design the system’s architecture, write code, find and solve bugs and this is all about communication. Virtualization to the rescue! I was surprised to learn that video conferencing is a great solution. We always keep the video conference open between the offices. I think of it as a window, or a tunnel, to another room where the rest of the team is working.

Sociology


Despite the common misconception, it turns out that it is much easier for an Israeli to find a common language with a Palestinian rather than with an American – we like similar food, similar sports, and speak very similar languages.

Theology


Did you know that Judaism and Islam are actually more similar than they are different? Both share common origin in the Middle East through Abraham, and both are considered Abrahamic religions. Islam is similar to Judaism in its fundamental religious outlook, structure, law and practice.

Psychology


We all are the same. We like laughing, love our children, care for our families, and we all bleed when we get cut!

3 comments:

zabihanews said...

Hope you guys can show everyone that this part of the world can actually work and live together in harmony!

Anton Bar said...

Thanks, I really hope so!

Mellowie said...

Anton, I'm glad you kept it simple and precise. I hope your company does succeed! I've been trying to use it more and more for my needs. I see it as a breath of fresh compared to the giants out there atm.