Friday, March 14, 2008

Virtual Reality - The Winner Is...

Just as I posted last night, and as if he were reading my mind, I got an email from my friend Sam Bahour in Ramallah, telling me that, the extraordinary software company that creates a virtual desktop for you anywhere you go (think of it as Vista and Office following you around like Gmail; Google's dream, in fact), has placed in Computerworld's top ten most innovated companies for 2007. Did I mention that is a joint venture of two development teams, one in Modiin, Israel and the other in Ramallah, Palestine? Dare we imagine what they'd achieve if their development meetings did not themselves have to be virtual? Oh, and did I mention that Sam, an American-Palestinian technology entrepreneur, whom Israel should wish there were a thousand of, is still fighting for a resident status that would allow him to stay in Ramallah with his family and yet travel to and from Palestine?


richards1052 said...

You & Sam are way ahead of the IDF and those other hopeless petty dictator-bureaucrats. If only Israeli diplomacy could be as innovative as people like Sam, then the conflict could be solved in a few days or weeks at most. There will come a time when Israeli & Palestinian innovators will be able to do their work freely & make their mark on the world. Till then, we have to make do with the dolts & boors who run our lives (into the ground sometimes).

Anonymous said...

My husband was in a similar situation. He was born in Gaza and left in 1989 to marry me and finish his studies in the US. He's an expert in a much needed area of development. We returned to Ramallah in 1995 full of excitement and committed to building the new Palestine.

Husband entered on his US passport. Soon enough the border people realized he had a Gaza Hawiyya, and this fact was "flagged" in his file. His US passport meant nothing -- he was a Gaza dog. By 1997, husband had to get out of the car at the increasing numbers of checkpoints between Ramallah and the university where he taught. and sneak through the mountains like a common criminal. He never could get permission to be in the West Bank legally. I never could get a work permit after 2 years. We were all living illegally.

By 1997 we called it quits.

Israel, as well as the PA, should have rolled out the red carpet for someone like my husband, with needed expertise, knowledge of western efficienies in business and academia, politically moderate point of view, and high expectations for the new PA, etc.

Instead the Israelis drove him out. The PA never bothered to negotiate for the return of talented diaspora Palestinians. I guess there was no money in it for them.

That anecdote illustrates 2 things for me: Israel's utter lack of interest in having a viable Palestinian neighbor, and the PA's lack of interest in building a lasting society.

What a tragedy.


bar_kochba132 said...

Judy's interesting posting here illustrates points I have made in comments regarding Bernard's earlier postings. Bernie, like many well-intentioned people wants that maximum good for the maximum number of people. If he were in charge of the Palestinian territories, he would work to encourage economic development so that the population could benefit. Bernie assumes that the FATAH and HAMAS people who control the Palestinian territories, deep down, want the same thing. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Judy points out that the Palestinians did nothing to try to get her husband to stay. The question is: Why? The reason is that the view someone like him as a THREAT to their power. He came from the United States where he picked up "dangerous" ideas about democracy, tolerance and accountability of rulers to their people. These ideas are anathema to autocratic rules like HAMAS and FATAH, and many other states in the Arab world. Independent entrepreneurs and specialists would demand governmental accountability and the freedom to develope the economic interests. However, the ruling cliques in these type of regimes reserve all the "goodies" for themselves and those families and clans who are closely connectec with them.
This is why it is in the interest of the ruling powers to keep their population poor and dependent on them for handouts. This keeps the people under control and forces them to kowtow to those in power in order to get money to survive.

This is the reason that Bernie's ideas of encouraging ecnomic development by the Palestinians as a way to encourage the Palestinian rulers to make peace with Israel can never work....the economic structure of the Palestinian territories will always be held hostage and remain subordinateto the political interests of the ruling clique which will remain paramount. Nothing is more important to them than remaining at power, even at the expense of the welfare of their people.

Anonymous said...

Bar Kochba, I think you are dead wrong in your analysis.

First of all, Hamas had nothing to do with negotiating issues in 1995 between the PA and Israel.

I believe that the PA's lack of advocacy on behalf of returning diaspora Palestinians was more oversight and neglect, rather than purposeful stance.

And I think you're dead wrong about the economic situation.

When the economic arrangements between the countries were being worked out in the early Oslo days, Israel was party to the corruption on the Palestinian side. They colluded with the PA's habit of awarding various contracts (cement, communications, etc) to the highest bidder. Israel preferred to work with the thieves such as Dahlan and Mohammad Rashid.

Was the (by then exhausted and impoverished) Palestinian body politic too passive in allowing that corruption to go on? Yes most certainly.

Does that mean Palestinians are consigned to spend eternity with corrupt leadership? Only if the USA and Israel will only allow corrupt leaders like Abbas to remain at the helm.

Anonymous said...

And Bar Kochba, the bottom line is that we left because of our treatment at the hands of the IDF and the Israeli government. Those are the parties that made our lives unbearable.


bar_kochba132 said...


I don't dispute what you said in your later comments but here is what you said in your first:
Instead the Israelis drove him out. The PA never bothered to negotiate for the return of talented diaspora Palestinians. I guess there was no money in it for them.

That anecdote illustrates 2 things for me: Israel's utter lack of interest in having a viable Palestinian neighbor, and the PA's lack of interest in building a lasting society.

I stand by what I said....the Palestinian Authority views people like yourself and your husband as a threat to their power. You are right that the PA has no interest in building a normal society, that is why they didn't want you there.
You are also right that Israel is a party to the corruption...Yossi Alpher , a Leftist Israeli political analyst who supported Oslo wrote openly at the time that Israel didn't want "democracy" but wanted a regime that suppressed terrorism. The Oslo agreement was a cynical move on the part of the Israeli gov't and Arafat to bring Arafat and his gang in, turn them loose to rob and plunder the Palestinian population and in return, they would suppress terrorism. Arafat outsmarted Peres and Rabin since he took what they gave and in the end supported the existence of "independent" terrorist organizations like HAMAS, Islamic Jihad and FATAH's own Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, while claiming he was "too weak" to control them....all the while maintaing the support of the US and EU and getting money from them. Quite a brilliant move.
My only question to you is that you claim that it is the US and Israel that are condemning the Palestinians to a "corrupt leadership". Where in the Arab world, even among the anti-American regimes , is there a regime that is NOT corrupt, that could serve as a model for the Palestinians to emulate?

Anonymous said...

First of all, political corruption is hardly unique to the Arab world.
I certainly hope you're not suggesting that "corruption" is endemic to any Arab political enterprise?

Palestinians voters resoundingly rejected the corruption of Fatah, but the US and Israel refused to allow the results of that election to stand, didn't they?

I think any parliamentary system with checks and balances provides the needed model. It's unconscionable that Israel and the US continually interfere and refuse to allow Palestinians to implment such a gov't.

bar_kochba132 said...

To Anonymous-
There is a body that measures corruption in all the countries around the world. As I recall, Scandinavian countries and Western European countries are at the top of the list as "least corrupt countries". Most of the Arab countries are at the bottom of the list as "most corrupt countries". "Corruption" is measured by things liked "fixed elections" (is there any country other than Lebanon that has free, multi-party elections were an opposition candidate has the opportunity to take power?-yes, the last Palestinian election did have such characteristics-but the winner renounced the Oslo Agreements which was a problem for Israel, US and the EU), the necessity to pay bribes to governent clerks and officials in order for them to carry out their duties as they are supposed to do as part of their jobs, police who threaten penalties who don't pay them bribes, the prevalence of organized crime which is in cahoots with the police and governmental authorities, granting government contracts on a fair, unbiased basis without demanding bribes, etc.

I read the book "The Crusades in Arab Eyes" by the Lebanese writer Amin Ma'alouf and he points out the great weakness of the Arab/Islamic world after the Crusades in comparison to the Europeans was the lack of development of Constitutional restrictions on the rights of rulers, rules for succession to power on the passing of the previous ruler, and definition of rights of the common man against the power of the regime.

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