More than 40 founders, investors, engineers, and others in the tech industry are today announcing a coalition called Tech for Palestine to build open-source projects, tools, and data to help others in the industry advocate for the Palestinian people.
The launch of the group comes during a tense time in the region. Hamas’s October 7th attack on Israel led to the deaths of more than 1,100 individuals. The war in the Gaza Strip that followed has seen the displacement of millions of Palestinians and tens of thousands of deaths.
The Israel-Hamas war has proved divisive to the tech industry. Israel, home to a well-known technology and startup market, has seen strong support from tech individuals and institutions. In contrast, calls for ceasefires and speaking in support of Palestine have caused some to lose their jobs.
Paul Biggar, the founder of Tech for Palestine, hopes to raise more awareness of the war in Gaza, fight for a permanent ceasefire, and provide ways for those who are afraid to speak publicly in support of Palestine to still offer support. It is one of the first tech initiatives to take a public stance supporting Palestine and could represent a turning point in the venture industry’s posture regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict as more people seek to speak out in favor of a ceasefire.
Biggar, the founder of the company CircleCI – last valued at $1.7 billion – formed the coalition after writing a viral blog post that criticized the lack of support the tech industry has shown Palestinians, even as the death toll from the Israel-Hamas war continues to rise. He said that after he wrote his blog post, thousands of people reached out to him with words of support, many of them afraid to speak up themselves for fear of potential career impacts.
Among them, he said, were “dozens of people not only speaking up but who had started projects to change the industry to ensure that people speaking up for Palestine could be heard. Dozens of others were volunteering to help,” Biggar added. “I started connecting these folks together, and the [Tech for Palestine] community came together very quickly.”
The platform, still in its early days, will feature projects run by small groups and serve as a place to share resources and advice, something many pro-Palestinian tech workers are already doing privately. It has already secured names like Idris Mokhtarzada, founder of the unicorn Truebill, to help build out the platform. So far, it has created a badge for engineers to use on GitHub that calls for a ceasefire and created HTML snippets for people to use on their websites to put up a support ceasefire banner.
Biggar said there are plans to eventually work more with Palestinian organizations and help Palestinian startups with mentorship and cloud credits. TechCrunch previously reported that the war has destroyed much of Palestine’s burgeoning tech industry.
Arfah Farooq, founder of Muslamic Makers, said the last three months have changed everyone in many ways. At the same time, there has been a togetherness and activism that she has never seen before. “I’ve seen firsthand people come together to work for Palestine with nothing but their laptops from across the globe,” she said.
She decided to work with Tech for Palestine after reading Biggar’s viral blog post and has already started to share resources on how to support Palestine. “Due to the siege, we can’t go to Gaza and help on the ground, but we help regardless of where we are in the world,” Farooq said.
One engineer, who asked to remain anonymous, decided to join the coalition because this person felt suffocated at work. This person has agreed to work as an engineer and product manager to help build resources for Tech for Palestine, saying, “I hope this initiative will spark a significant shift and give people their voices back.”
A former tech brand marketer, who is also scared to speak out publicly for fear it will impact a new job search, also told TechCrunch about feeling happy to have a way to get involved with the cause.
“This period has been incredibly isolating to Arabs, Muslims, and other people of color in VC and tech,” she said. “Tech for Palestine is a necessary initiative. When we are seeing mobilization around the world and the US in the numbers of hundreds of thousands calling for peace and [the] humanization of the Palestinians, the tech community can no longer be silent.”
The Tech for Palestine initiative comes as the death toll among Palestinians continues to rise. In recent weeks, U.S. officials have reportedly prodded Israel to do more to protect civilians in Gaza even as they have called U.S. support for Israeli security unshakable.
Biggar hopes, at the very least, that this new coalition will augur a larger shift in people speaking up.
“The narrative has only just turned,” he said. “We are working to enable many more who feel silenced to speak out, we are only getting started.”