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The effects of a war
Subscribers’ stories about the war in Israel and Gaza, and how you can help them.
I am located in the ancient city of Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus. I am Israeli and Palestinian at the same time. Twenty percent of Israel’s population are Palestinian Arabs who are also Israeli citizens. I studied at Israeli universities and worked in the Israel hi-tech scene and also had two years of consulting in the Silicon Valley and Boston in the mid-nineties. When I returned to Israel in 1997, I established NAZDAQ (Nazareth Data Quest) in Nazareth, so my people, the Palestinian Arabs, can also join the tech field, like the rest of the Israelis.
Both Israelis and Palestinians are crushed right now. It is very sad here. My heart goes out for people suffering from both sides and praying for peace.
From a director at dbt Labs:
My partner is half-Israeli. My partner’s three first cousins were all drafted last week as part of the IDF, leaving thirteen kids in total behind. We think they are safe, as they are in the reserves and not on the front line. But it's terrifying for everyone, nonetheless. There are no winners in war.
And regardless of which side you support, the rise in hate towards Jews and Arabs is unacceptable. I have always felt relatively safe being an American Jew. I no longer feel that way.
From the founder of an AI startup:
I grew up in Lebanon, and was a refugee in 2006 during the Israel-Hezbollah war. Business as usual is difficult when I'm this distracted. I am optimistic that Israel won't want to open a second front with Lebanon, but either way, the horror of war is distracting.
I grew up in a Kibbutz three miles from Gaza. My family is safe, thank god, but I lost many friends this Saturday.
Despite that, I don't really care about people all over the world that don't “stand with Israel.” That's fine. It's a complicated, bloody, and sad conflict. I don't have an opinion about most conflicts in the world. It's ok that people don't care.
What truly makes me feel desperate and hopeless is the amount of people around the world that are celebrating what happened to us. They are happy about this. It makes me feel angry, sad, and mostly scared. I think I will never feel safe again, not in Israel, and definitely nowhere else in the world.
I'm an American Jew, and I've been a mess all week. Seeing business-as-usual continue, especially in the tech space (which has been so monumentally infused with and impacted by Israelis) is painful. The silence has been deafening.
From the founder of a data observability startup in Israel:
As an Israeli millennial, October 7th will be a watershed moment where many of the things we held true regarding life here have changed. I wanted to provide a bit of data about what life has been like since then, and want to share it in memory of all those who lost their lives in this war.
Although the exact numbers aren’t yet known, around 1,400 Israelis died in the terror attack, most of them civilians, and more than 200 people were kidnapped. This is more than the total number of Israeli deaths from wars in the last fifty years. Given the size of the Israeli population, it's roughly equivalent to around 50,000 American deaths, nearly sixteen times the size of 9/11, and 7,800 American hostages, more than five times the number of POWs in the Vietnam war. Nearly everyone in Israel has some connection to someone who was killed or kidnapped.
Israel has also been under constant fire of rockets. More than 7,500 rockets have been fired since the start of the war; for some villages, that's an average of ten rockets an hour. Some people living close to Gaza stay in their shelters for most of the day, fearing they won't be able to reach it in time.
Besides the three years of mandatory service in Israel, all citizens have to serve in reserve military units until about the age of forty. Israel has called for 300,000 reserve soldiers, about 0.3 percent of the entire population, and ten percent of the relevant age group. Nearly everyone I know is either serving or has a direct family member serving now.
The financial cost of the war has been estimated to be around 1 billion NIS (or $250 million) each day. Businesses have been forced to close down because they either don’t have staff or customers. Tourism in Israel has come to a complete standstill; nearly all international airlines are canceling their flights.
Personally, I'm currently working on a data observability startup. Both my co-founder and I were called back to service on the first day of the war. Like us, many startups have seen most of their workforce called or volunteer for service. The support we are getting from colleagues and friends around the world has been amazing and heartwarming. Although these are difficult times, I am sure that better times are coming.
From an machine learning lead at a gaming company based in Tel Aviv:1
We're used to missile sirens here. Every building has a bomb shelter, and lots of apartments have safety rooms. That's part of what you look for when you move: What's it like in the shelter? Is it well decorated? Would it be comfortable to spend a long time there?
But the last few days have been different. There are sirens a few times a day. My wife, my baby, and I are in and out of the shelter all day. I just wish it would stop—I wish the missiles would stop.
I know the conflict is complicated, but some things aren't. It’s not complicated to not kill kids. Still, everyone knows someone who was killed last weekend. A teammate's parents were on one of the beaches that were attacked. They've been missing ever since. Nobody can find them. They were probably killed, but we don't know.
Are we safe now? I don't know that either.
I now live in Tel Aviv, Israel. As founders, all we want to do is build a product that gives value to our users, solve real-life problem, sell it to customers, and iterate.
What we don't want to be doing, but found ourselves doing in the past week—deal with war, innocent people from both sides that are suffering, running to a shelter room (while writing this email) because of missile sirens, and having many people on our team drafted to reserve duty.
But even worse—each one of us knew someone who was greatly affected by the recent Hamas terror attack, and that alone is very difficult to deal with.
Startup life is hard enough.
From an digital marketer and entrepreneur who founded a startup that builds infrastructure to support remote work in Gaza tech industry:
Leaving Gaza for Europe to do a master's degree just a month before the brutal war was like a short break from the constant chaos of life as a Palestinian. But chaos is still chasing me even when I came out of Gaza. It is like you can not live inside and you can not have peace of mind outside.
Recent days have been very overwhelming to me. Losing two close cousins, and being cut off from my family for nine days was a never-ending nightmare. I clung to hope for that one notification, a message confirming they were alive. I connected with them yesterday for a forty-second call, and hearing my mom's tearful voice was bittersweet. It meant she was alive but in anguish.
For seven years, Rozzah was my cherished companion cat, a beloved member of our family. She later became a mother to six adorable kittens. Amid the relentless war, I lost her and her six kittens in this war.
Losing our home, built through a loan, is a heart-wrenching pain. The war turned it into rubble, leaving my dad with nine years of debt, and our dreams in ruins. This sorrow serves as a constant reminder of the war's injustice and hardship.
I'm overwhelmed by a deep sadness, unable to protect loved ones, witnessing my homeland in ruins. This is a grief that can't be expressed.
Yesterday morning, a seven-year old boy was killed by a police tow truck a few blocks from my apartment. I learned about it a couple hours after it happened, from a news alert from the New York Times.
I can see the trees that surround the intersection where he died from my apartment window. It was hard to look at them yesterday, knowing the awful grief that was hidden beneath their leaves.
In Israel and Gaza, there are thousands of such intersections. There are too many to report on; no push notifications go out when children die. They are simply lost, burned, shot, buried in rubble, sometimes with their brothers and sisters and parents, and sometimes alone.
The pain must be incomprehensible. I don’t know how anybody looks at any of the trees there, knowing the things that they must’ve seen.
There are ways to help, if you want to.
You can give money. The Gazan marketer and founder started a campaign to rebuild her family’s home. Eleven people, including a week-old newborn boy, need shelter, and no longer have anywhere to go. If you’d like to help them, email me, and I can send you the page where you can give. If ten percent of the people who get this email donate twenty dollars, she’ll reach her goal.
From a data product manager at an HR tech company:
I'm a former resident of one of the kibbutzim hit, an IDF veteran, and current reservist lucky to not yet be called as I live in New York. While anxiously waiting to be called, I’m fundraising to help rebuild my home after the terrorist attack. If people could donate, it would be a massive help.
You can reach out to people, and tell them you see what’s happening. Don’t look away, several people told me. Don’t pretend that nothing is happening. Yes, it is a confusing and complicated tragedy—but most of all, it is a tragedy. From one email:
Just acknowledging that something horrible has happened (and is happening) is actually really, really important.
That’s part of what’s been tough, someone else said. From another:
My social media is filled with Jewish people speaking up against the heinous acts but others are silent.
And another, from a Palestinian living in Israel:
Friends that show empathy are needed at this time where my feed is so polarized between my Jewish friends and my Arab friends.
You can work with their businesses. From Noy, the CEO of Sherloq:
Sherloq is ChatGPT and Co-pilot for your internal DB. Our product is a plug-in that sits on top of any query editor, so we easily integrate into our users' workflow.
We're starting with data teams and people who know SQL inside organizations. From our own experience, we understand data and SQL aren't deterministic; a simple text-to-SQL just doesn't do the trick. So there's a conversation, and validation process that creates better prompts and better answers in each session. That's why our chatbot is kind of like the "smol analyst" approach that you described.
We know how to give the most value to companies with 500 to 2,500 employees that usually have established a data team of at least five, so we're looking to meet more data execs, and more specifically VPs, directors of data analytics, data science, and data engineering teams in enterprise companies.
I personally believe that the common Hebrew phrase, “in their death, they honored us with life,” is now, more than ever, extremely relevant. With all the recent events, we continue to operate as usual and in full power, building and providing our existing and new customers with a product that they love, just as we have been doing until now.
From Bader, the owner of NAZDAQ:
NAZDAQ's flagship product is B2Win Suite, a platform designed to combine the essential functionalities of various data-related software, including data integration, data analytics, BI, reporting, and output management. We have more than sixty customers using this platform, including some Fortune 1000 companies. We have a native integration with Infor LN ERP (Previously Baan) and our customers come from this group.
Our new application, B2Data is a platform to simplify and streamline the processing of business data to allow companies to fetch data from multiple data sources, prepare, cleanse, and transform it to create insightful data presentation using the strength of Excel, or feed BI systems or other systems for further use. B2Data is based on a modular workflow-architecture, business users can intuitively create data scenarios with almost no programming needed to be run on-demand or fully automated.
Our integration with Excel is very unique. Unlike Microsoft tools, we create Excel files in jobs and merge data into existing Excel templates to automatically create simple yet powerful Excel sheets with Pivot tables and graphs.
Our product can work on a private cloud or on-premises and we are exploring customers with other business systems.
We have a product that combines LLMs with our own proprietary dataset to help companies find, decide on, and buy software faster, cheaper, and with fewer headaches. Companies like NoFraud and Tableau are already benefiting from it, and we have a waitlist longer than we can service. We’re raising money right now—if you’re a VC who invests in seed-stage B2B SaaS companies, we’d love to show you what we’ve built.
I hope the violence ends immediately rather than spreads, so we can focus on building a better world, rather than destroying it.
From an Israeli marketing executive who mentors women who work in tech in Gaza: “Not enough people know about Gaza’s tech industry.” Programs like Gaza Sky Geeks have trained thousands of engineers. Today, their “offices are destroyed, the fiber lines are destroyed. The universities are destroyed.” Nobody in Gaza knows if it can be rebuilt.
I spoke to this person over a video call, so the quote below isn’t actually a direct quote, but a paraphrasing of that conversation.