November 18, 2019

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Palestinian youths, who celebrate setting fires in Israel, recognized in Silicon Valley for fire prevention app

From Israel Hayom:

Four Palestinian high school friends are heading to California this week to pitch their mobile app about fire prevention to Silicon Valley’s tech leaders, after winning a slot in the finals of a worldwide competition among more than 19,000 teenage girls.

The teens first heard about the competition a few months ago from an IT teacher at their school in a middle-class neighborhood in Nablus, where IT classes are a modest affair, held twice a week, with two students to a computer.

The girls, friends since 10th grade, each had a laptop at home though, and worked with Yamama Shakaa, a local mentor provided by the competition organizers. The teens “did everything by themselves, with very few resources,” said Shakaa.

The team produced a virtual reality game, “Be a firefighter,” to teach fire prevention skills.

The teens now hope to expand their app to include wildfire prevention. They will also present a business and marketing plan at the California pitching session.

I am all for Palestinians learning computers and programming. I wish these girls luck. The only way the Palestinian economy can grow is by moving away from agriculture and towards high tcch fields, especially in jobs which can be done for clients around the world.

But this story leaves out an important fact.

Literally every day, Palestinian media proudly reports about the number of wildfires set by Gaza incendiary balloons and kites, which have destroyed thousands of acres of Israeli forest, farmland and wildlife preserves.

The idea that these girls are going to California for a fire prevention app – that they hope will be expanded to prevent the types of wildfires that their people celebrate – feels more than a bit cynical.

(h/t Andrew)

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