July 23, 2019

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A Gaza NGO that is actually worthwhile


Most NGOs in Gaza and the West Bank care little about actual Palestinians. As we have seen over and over again, organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, not to mention most Palestinian-based NGOs like Adalah, do nothing to help actual Palestinians and spend all of their time and money in the region on bashing Israel.

Exceptions are rare but worth highlighting.

One of the biggest challenges to the Palestinians, especially in Gaza, is jobs. There seem to be more of them employed to generate white papers about how bad things are than to actually do anything positive for their community. The fact that Hamas actions have isolated Gaza means that Palestinians that want good jobs need to look for jobs that can be done from anywhere in the world.

I am aware of only one such initiative, and that is Gaza Sky Geeks, run by MercyCorps in conjunction with many partners including Google.

The Code Academy, a joint project of Gaza Sky Geeks and Founders & Coders International, is the first full-stack coding bootcamp in Palestine. We will train 16 students per cohort in a full-time, intensive course for 8 weeks with an additional 16 weeks of project-based learning with real-world clients to jumpstart your professional portfolio. The objective is to graduate as full-stack developers who can deploy production-grade software online and secure high-quality jobs with companies or work as freelance developers.

Our immersive course is peer-led and project-based with students working in teams of 4. Students take turns delivering workshops, running code reviews, and managing projects. The course covers test-driven development, using a full JavaScript stack (JavaScript and Node.js) with relational databases. We also teach aspects of UX design and project management.

Once finished, graduates of the Code Academy will be competent full-stack developers, able to work in big teams, build complete prototypes to test their ideas, work with clients, and manage the lifecycle of a product.

Unlike other NGOs, I see no hint of a political program in this initiative. This is one of the very few programs that are truly meant to help Palestinians and not look at them as pawns to further an anti-Israel objective.

The real question is, why is Gaza Sky Geeks so anomalous?

Unfortunately, the answer seems to be that the other NGOs have learned that bashing Israel is the easiest way to raise money. The people who pretend to want to help Palestinians are usually really anti-Israel (and the only reason to be so obsessively anti-Israel is essentially always antisemitism.) It is a sick cycle of chasing limited donor funds and NGOs turning into political actors rather than organizations that care about actual people. This is why worldwide NGOs seem to do worthwhile work in other areas of the world and still treat Palestinians like nothing beyond ammunition against the Jewish state.

Gaza Sky Geeks proves that it doesn’t have to be this way.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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