Shalom Life | September 07, 2014

Why So Many Palestinian High-Tech Entrepreneurs Hate My FORBES Cover Story

Richard Behar, a popular Forbes contributor, writes about the reaction he received from the Palestinian and Israeli communities, respectfully, after his Forbes cover story 'Peace Through Profits' was published

By: Richard Behar, Forbes

Published: September 9th, 2013 in Business » World

“The negative reactions to an article that tries to suggest an optimistic perspective on Israeli-Palestinian relationships are disappointing. They are a reflection of the strengthening culture of avoidance and extremism promoted heavily by some Palestinian leaders who have given up hope for peace. All this said, readers of FORBES could realize on their own that something is happening between people on both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, which is more powerful than any political cynicism or unnecessary pressures. Eventually, the people, and not their political leaders, will decide whether they want to live in peace or to live in conflict forever.”

--Izhar Shay, head of Israel operations for Canaan Partners, a multi-billion dollar global venture capital firm


There’s a popular word in modern Hebrew (on loan from Israel’s Russian immigrants) called balagan, which means ‘mess’ or ‘chaos.’ To give the word some context, last November, when an Israeli army patrol jeep was struck by an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza, the vehicle’s 21-year-old commander phoned his parents (who had seen something about a jeep attack on the news) to try and reassure them. “We had a big balagan,” he told his dad. “I’m slightly injured, but I’m okay. You don’t have to come to the hospital.”

In fact, that young commander – it turns out he’s a distant relative of mine – had 35 shards of metal in him, plus a blown-out eardrum. He and the three soldiers riding with him were lucky to survive, and I penned an account in the attack’s aftermath.

I’m now in the middle of my own balagan with a different class of Palestinians: Well-educated and extremely intelligent high-tech entrepreneurs on the West Bank. While my cousin understated his balagan (to say the very least), mine has me mentally, not physically, injured. And so saddened that it’s taken me weeks to post this.

I wrote a recent cover story for FORBES that was fronted with a photo of Cisco Systems’ CEO, John Chambers, who we tagged a “capitalist diplomat.” The main article was titled “PEACE THROUGH PROFITS: As Israeli and Palestinian politicians lurch towards talks, entrepreneurs have been quietly taking action. Inside the secret partnerships that may save the Middle East.”

A related piece of mine, posted on the same day: “POSITIVELY POSITEAM: A Glimpse Inside Cisco-Israel’s Training of Palestinian Entrepreneurs.”

To continue reading, click here

This story is reprinted with permission from FORBES

For more by Richard Behar, visit his website here.

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