Saturday, May 05, 2007

G.ho.st - what peace should look like

An Israeli Jewish entrepreneur and his Palestinian Arab partner have created an interesting Internet company called g.ho.st which is a virtual Web-based operating system. Right now it is in alpha test so it is a bit rough around the edges, a bit slow an it doesn't have too much functionality. But the purpose is to be able to have a computer desktop that is accessible anywhere there is a web browser.

What is interesting is that almost all of his employees are Israeli Arabs or Palestinian Arabs.
An abbreviation of Global Hosted Operating System, G.ho.st is a free 'Virtual Computer' - a Web-based operating system that allows users to access their on-line desktop from any browser. G.ho.st aims to "to complement and eventually replace Windows", according to its Website.

Israeli internet entrepreneur Zvi Shreiber is the founder and chief architect of the project which he privately funded, partly using profits from the lucrative sale of his company Unicorn to IBM.

With offices in Jerusalem and Ramallah, almost all of G.ho.st's 15 employees are of Palestinian or Israeli Arab origin.

In an interview with Ynet, Shreiber said that he was the mastermind behind the original idea for G.ho.st and he met his Palestinian business partner Tareq Maayah through a common acquaintance.

Academically educated in the United States, Maayah gained expertise in the field serving as CEO of Siemens Information and Communication Technologies and on the Advisory Board to the Palestinian Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

G.ho.st and its team support collaboration – not just on-line but in real life as well.

Shreiber and Maayah don't just prove that co-existence is possible, they promote the idea financially as well, pledging 10 percent of earnings to the non-profit G.ho.st Peace Foundation. Their goal is "to promote peace in the Middle East through grass-roots social and commercial collaboration between the individuals on both sides," the Website says.

We have seen that much of the incentive that Palestinian Arabs have for weapons tunnels and shooting rockets is financial, not political or religious. Israelis have always grasped what Arab leaders have not - that true peace means real normalization and real economic partnerships that are mutually beneficial. The "golden age" of Palestinian Arabs was during Oslo - not because of the illusory "peace" but because they were economically better off than at any other time of their short history. The Intifada was a disaster for them because it devastated their economy.

Money makes the world go 'round, and any real peace, if it is at all possible, will occur because of the win-win that an economic relationship can encourage. An Internet-based company where people can work in virtual space is an ideal place to start because physical security is not a concern (no doubt network security is a concern, but those issues can be addressed.)

I look forward to seeing if g.ho.st can turn into a real, usable virtual OS.