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‘For we are brothers’: Arabs, Jews in tech call for healing social rifts | The Times of Israel

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The bloody clashes Israel has witnessed between Arab and Jewish citizens in the past week have triggered a flurry of responses in the tech, business and healthcare world.

Leaders, both Jewish and Arab, from these sectors have issued statements expressing their commitment to a country that treats everyone equally under the law and calling for “healing Israeli society,” just as the nation has been largely cured from the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Tensions between Israel’s Jewish and Arab communities spiraled into mob violence in ethnically mixed communities over the past week, turning cities into veritable war zones, with police failing to contain the most serious internal unrest to grip the country in years.

A Jewish man in Lod died of his injuries after a brick was hurled at his head during the riots and several other people, Jews and Arabs, were seriously injured in shootings and beatings during the unrest, which has mostly subsided this week.

A firefighter is seen on the streets of the central city of Lod amid ongoing unrest, May 12, 2021 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

“These days, Israeli society is being tested and we are at the edge of the abyss,” said the 35 Israel-based VC funds and 130 startups that make up the Power in Diversity initiative, which was set up four years ago to bring sidelined communities such as Arabs, ultra-Orthodox, Ethiopian and others into the tech ecosystem.

“We have two options ahead of us: accept that we are a diverse society and rejoice in the beauty of that diversity or continue to demonize those who are different and decline into hate and violence,” the consortium said in a statement.

“We have no choice but to see these times as an opportunity for change — for the silent majority to disrupt the status quo, to take back the agenda from the extremes in our society,” the statement, which was published on social media in English, Hebrew and Arabic by the steering committee of Power in Diversity. Among the funds included in the initiative are Viola, Pitango, Qumra, Glilot, Vintage Investment Partners and 2B Angels.

“We, the undersigned members of the high-tech community, restate our commitment to building a country where every person, no matter what religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, has equality of opportunity, equal treatment under the law, the respect of both their political leaders and their neighbors and the freedom to go anywhere without the fear of abuse or violence,” the statement continues. “We commit to working with anyone from any community to make this country a light unto the nations that it can be and should be.”

“There is going to be a tomorrow after this conflict,” said Alan Feld, a Canadian-Israeli founder and managing partner of Vintage Investment Partners who set up the Power in Diversity initiative.

Alan Feld, a Canadian-Israeli founder and managing partner of Vintage Investment Partners (Courtesy)

“The way to overcome the conflict is the workforce, one of the few places where people from all communities work together, meet in a positive environment, and work together for a common goal,” Feld said in a phone interview. “Interaction allows people to break down barriers, build understanding, trust, respect.”

Feld said that Power in Diversity initiative has been working for years to help tech firms and VC funds recruit employees from diverse communities and overcome inbuilt biases, of which employers may not even be aware. The way forward, he said, is to intensify efforts to help people from different communities work together.

“We can’t wait for politicians and for our leadership to solve this problem because they are not doing it,” he said. At the end of the day, he said, success will come from grassroots efforts.

The events that unfolded over the past week have been a “wake-up call,” he said. “If we don’t solve this problem, if we don’t figure out a way to bring people together, this could become and small example of a much deeper problem.”

Healing the rift

Similarly, a group of Arab and Jewish professionals from Israel’s healthcare ecosystem — members of academia and the tech sector, and clinicians and physicians — have issued a statement of purpose called “Breaking the Barriers,” in English, Hebrew and Arabic, calling on the Israeli public to heal the wounds of society.

“We, women and men from across healthcare systems, medical research and the health-tech industry in Israel, a group that bridges across communities, societies and religions, call on the Israeli public to stand up against acts of incitement, violence and hatred and turn to healing the wounds,” the statement published on social media platform reads.

“We, who live the Arab-Jewish co-existence on a daily basis at the hospitals, clinics, research labs and Health-Tech companies, know that the alternative we live by is possible, as most citizens of this country know.

“In the past year we fought side by side against the COVID pandemic and prevailed, together. Now, all of us — Jews, Muslims, Christians, and those of other faiths — must act again together out of equality, respect and true partnership, to restore the peace and personal security for all. In the healthcare sector thוs is already a living and breathing reality. Let us make it so in all areas of life. For we are brothers.”

Dr. Tuvik Beker, CEO of precision oncology startup Pangea Therapeutics and co-founder of MedAware, a startup that helps reduce prescription errors (Courtesy)

The initiative was started by Dr. Tuvik Beker, CEO of precision oncology startup Pangea Therapeutics and co-founder of MedAware, a startup that helps reduce prescription errors.

Beker is part of the 8400 Network of healthcare professionals, investors, VC funds, startups, hospitals, academics, and the public sector who seek to make health-tech and bio-convergence the new growth engine for the Israeli economy.

“When I saw the violence last week, I wrote a post on the 8400 Network’s WhatsApp group, with some 200 members, saying that just as our joint effort is to heal, the most pressing mission now is to heal the horrible ruptures that are happening between Jews and Arabs in our country,” Beker said in a phone interview. “The post drew a lot of attention from within and outside the 8400 Network, and led to our call for action.”

In addition, the initiative has started creating a set of video interviews in which Jewish and Arab members of the healthcare and health-tech sector talk about their experiences of working together, their hopes and difficulties and how to make the vision of coexistence a reality, Beker said.

“The aim is to show Israeli society that there is an alternative,” Beker said. “We can forge a mutual life here together for mutual prosperity. And this is especially important when hatred is literally flowing in the streets.”

The Breaking the Barriers initiative was also hoping to hold a joint parade of Jewish and Arab hospital workers, but it has been put on hold because many were concerned they’d face retaliation. But the initiative has set out plans to help empower hospital leaders and company heads to “foster constructive dialogue” with workers from diverse backgrounds, to help “bring dialogue to the forefront, and make everyone feel safe to bring up disturbing issues,” he said.

In a text message posted among the members of the initiative, Dr. Abed Agbarya, head of the Oncology Institute at Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, wrote that rather than a civil war, as it is being described by the media, what is happening on Israel’s streets is a “gang war” among groups that have “infested the streets on both sides.”

“We have been living together for over seventy years, with ups and downs, but have never crossed the red line that has been crossed this time and the reason is the entering of criminal players into the line. Arabs and Jews have been partners in building the state in all spheres, and today no person or group can take that away or erase it.”

Arabs today continue “to build and strengthen the country in all spheres: medicine, academia, high-tech, industry and construction. We play an active role in every field and area in the country and have great ambitions to move forward, connect deeper and make an impact.”

Dr. Abed Agbarya, the head of the Oncology Institute at Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa (Courtesy)

And just as Israel as a society “managed to lead the way out of the COVID crisis, and so too will we find a way to emerge forward, even stronger together, from this crisis.”

On Tuesday, several Jewish settlement councils and right-wing organizations said they were cutting ties with major telecommunications company Cellcom, after the company halted work for an hour to protest Jewish-Arab mob violence in Israel in the past week.

Also on Tuesday, Erel Margalit, the chairman of venture capital fund JVP, and Salim Jaber, head of the Abu Ghosh local council, convened a meeting of Jewish and Arab high-tech and social entrepreneurs for a joint demonstration calling for connection and cooperation between the communities and against violence, division and incitement. On May 26 a conference will be held in Jerusalem for dozens of startup entrepreneurs from Jewish and Arab parts of the city to promote cooperation, JVP said in a statement.

“Halas, Enough,” was the message in Arabic and Hebrew sent out by leading firms in Israel, and published on social media by the Economics Social Forum. “We can fix the cracks, we can rebuild from the shrapnel. This is our mission,” the message said.

Samer Haj Yehia, Bank Leumi Le-Israel’s first Arab chairman of the board, joined forces with CEO Hanan Friedman in a video message in Hebrew and Arabic, calling for tolerance, consideration, giving and peace.

Reem Younis, a co-founder of Nazareth-based medical device company Alpha Omega, said that just as doctors look at patients and seek their safety and health, so can the group of medical professionals who are part of the Breaking the Barriers initiative come up with ways to promote good values in society. As a Palestinian Israeli citizen, she said, she identifies with the plight of Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. “Many of us have families there,” she said. “And this is an important issue that the Jewish community is not able to internalize.”

“My goal in joining this initiative is to promote equality fairness and close the gap between the communities,” said Younis, who is not part of the 8400 Network but joined the Breaking the Barriers initiative.

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Texas Cracks Down on Big Tech Censorship with New Bill, Russia Files Lawsuit Against Google, Facebook – Bringing you Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

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Texas Cracks Down on Big Tech Censorship with New Bill, Russia Files Lawsuit Against Google, Facebook - Bringing you Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

The governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, plans to sign into law a bill that will prevent social media platforms from censoring the state’s citizens’ posts. After declaring that censorship won’t be tolerated in the Lone Star State, the governor warned that the First Amendment is under attack from social media companies.

The bill, SB 12, is authored by Republican Senator Bryan Hughes and will empower Texans who are wrongfully restricted or de-platformed to file a lawsuit and help them get back on the platform. The Texas Attorney General will hold the right to bring a claim on behalf of an individual. 

If the social media platform fails to comply, the court can impose daily penalties. Governor Abbott noted that these online sites had become today’s public squares where information must be allowed to flow freely. However, the present-day scenario is such that big tech often acts as the jury, determining whose viewpoints are valid and what perspectives can be discussed.

“America was built on freedom of speech and healthy public debate, and efforts to silence conservative viewpoints on social media are wrong and weaken public discourse. I thank Senator Hughes for offering SB 12 to help protect Texans from being wrongfully censored on social media for voicing their political or religious viewpoints. With SB 12, Senator Hughes is taking a stand against Big Tech’s political censorship and protecting Texans’ right to freedom of expression,” Abbott said in a statement.

Hughes expressed great concern at American citizens getting censored on social media for not conforming to a narrow worldview approved by leftist ideologies. He argues that phone companies and cable companies cannot cut people off because of differing political or religious viewpoints. 

Since social media platforms are common carriers, they must not be allowed to discriminate in a manner that violates the First Amendment. 

Industry association TechNet said that lifting content restrictions could result in kids getting exposed to harmful information online. However, Hughes dismissed such concerns, stating that the legislation will only apply to political and religious speech and not any “lewd, lascivious” activity. 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, has called the bill one of his 31 priorities for the current legislative session. Abbott hopes to sign SB 12 into law by September 1.

Russian lawsuit

The Russian government is also getting on board in the fight against big tech, but for a different reason. Moscow has filed lawsuits against Google, Twitter, and Facebook for failing to comply with the government’s censorship requests, which demanded the deletion of posts asking youngsters to join in the protests held against Alexei Navalny’s detainment, the opposition leader.

The lawsuit was filed by the Russian Internet regulatory agency Roskomnadzor. Each platform has three charges against them, with each violation potentially resulting in a fine of up to 4 million roubles (approx. $54,000). 

The lawsuits will be heard on April 2. According to Roskomnadzor, legal actions are pending against other foreign social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Telegram. 

Facebook had recently blocked numerous accounts for spreading disinformation against Navalny supporters, angering Roskomnadzor, which demanded a full explanation for the sudden move. The company stated that the disinformation campaign aimed to generate large volumes of false posts in a bid to muffle the posts made by Navalny sympathizers. 

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Facebook to become first major tech company to bring Seattle workers back to offices

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Facebook to become first major tech company to bring Seattle workers back to offices

Facebook announced Tuesday that it plans to bring its Seattle employees back to its offices at 10% capacity.

Amazon hosts pop-up vaccine clinic in Seattle

This makes the social media giant the first large tech company in the Puget Sound region to begin bringing its workers back in person. In total, Facebook employs over 5,400 people in the region, the fifth most among major tech companies behind Amazon, Microsoft, T-Mobile, and Google respectively.

In a statement to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Facebook spokesman Tracy Clayton indicated that “offices in Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond are on the verge of opening again at a scale not seen since the COVID pandemic began more than a year ago,” but did not offer a timeline for when exactly that might occur.

The 10% of workers Facebook plans to bring back will be prioritized based on those who have been facing struggling most to be productive with the work-from-home model, the company told the Journal.

Officially, the company still plans to continue offering the option to voluntarily work at home until July 2 worldwide.

“We are encouraging everyone who can do their work remotely to continue working from home,” Clayton said.

Report: Amazon now has more employees than Boeing in WA

In the meantime, Facebook says it will continue monitoring local COVID-19 trends, as well as testing and vaccine access to assess its plans for the future.

Other tech companies in the Puget Sound region have continued to maintain their own remote work policies, including Amazon, where the option to work full time from home remains in place at least through June 2021. Microsoft took that a step further last October, indicating that it plans to enact flexible work schedules that would incorporate remote work options permanently.

Meanwhile, state leaders continue to encourage schools to begin phasing out their own remote models, pushing for students to at least begin returning to classrooms in a hybrid model. That’s based on emergent data indicating that students are less likely to significantly contribute to the spread of COVID-19, and continued increases in vaccine distribution statewide.

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Chandler ranks among the best cities for women in tech | AZ Big Media

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Chandler ranks among the best cities for women in tech | AZ Big Media

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that computer and information technology jobs are expected to have grown by 11% from 2019 to 2029, adding 531,200 new jobs in cloud computing, big data storage and collection and information security. The median annual wage for those jobs in May 2019 was $88,240, which is $48,430 higher than the median annual wage for all occupations.

But while tech jobs continue to outpace other occupations nationwide, women still face gender discrimination in the workplace. The BLS says that full-time women workers in all occupations earned $202 less per week than their male counterparts in the third quarter of 2020. This not only makes it harder for women to advance in their careers, but it also adversely affects their ability to save for retirement and cover many day-to-day expenses like food or housing. The employment landscape, however, continues to change. With that in mind, SmartAsset analyzed data to identify the best cities for women tech workers.

READ ALSO: 25 tech startups to watch in Metro Phoenix

We compared 63 U.S. cities for which full data was available and ranked them according to the following metrics: gender pay gap in the tech industry, income after housing, women as a percentage of tech workers and three-year growth in tech employment. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s seventh annual study on the best cities for women in tech. Check out the 2020 version here.

Key Findings

• Tech opportunities are moving outside of California. Silicon Valley is widely considered the premiere tech hub of America. However, our 2021 study shows that only two California cities rank in the top 15, and neither of those are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Women can seize tech opportunities in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, New Mexico, Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and Washington D.C.

• Women in tech still face a relatively large pay gap. While tech is often considered a progressive industry, our study shows that women on average make 83 cents for every dollar that is earned by their male counterparts. The city with the worst pay gap is Salt Lake City, Utah where women make only 68% of what men get. By contrast, Long Beach, California is the only city in the study where women earn slightly more than men – making $1.01 for every dollar that their male tech peers get.

1. Arlington, VA

Arlington, Virginia is an “inside-the-beltway” suburb of Washington, D.C., and women make up 33.5% of their tech workforce, the sixth-largest on our list. Women tech workers in Arlington also have the eighth-largest income after housing, earning $64,620. Women in this city face the 12th-lowest pay gap in tech, earning 91 cents for every dollar that men make.

2. Washington, DC

Located just across the Potomac River from Arlington, the nation’s capital has a tech industry that is made up of 38.9% women workers, the second-largest percentage for this metric in our study. Women in Washington D.C. get 90 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers make, the 16th-lowest pay gap overall. Furthermore, they have the 12th-highest income, earning $61,083 after housing.

3. Baltimore, MD

Women in tech in Baltimore, Maryland face the second-smallest pay gap in the study, earning almost on par with their male counterparts – at 99 cents for every dollar that men make. The tech workforce in Baltimore is made up of 29.9% women, the 10th-largest overall, and they have the ninth-highest income – $63,203 after housing is deducted. Note, however, that the tech industry has grown only 15% in the three-year period from 2016 to 2019, placing Baltimore in the bottom half of the study for this metric.

4. Durham, NC

Durham, North Carolina is the home of Duke University and part of the famed Research Triangle. Tech women in Durham earn 91 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers make, the 11th-smallest pay gap in our study. The Durham tech industry has grown 30% in the three-year period from 2016 to 2019, the 12th-biggest increase overall for this metric. Women make up 28.6% of the city’s tech workforce, the 14th-largest in the study.

5. Chesapeake, VA

Chesapeake is located in southern Virginia. Women make up 37.4% of its tech workforce – the fourth-largest in our study. Women in this city make 91 cents for every dollar that their male tech peers get and have an income of $54,371 after housing. The Chesapeake tech industry has seen a 23% growth in the recent three-year period from 2016 to 2019.

6. Aurora, CO

Tech women in Aurora, Colorado get 97 cents for every dollar that men make, the third-smallest pay gap in our study. The tech industry in Aurora has grown 25% in three years, the 21st-biggest increase on our list. And women tech workers in this city earn $57,853 after housing, the 19th-biggest income across all 63 cities in the study.

7. Houston, TX

Women tech workers in Houston, Texas make 94 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers earn, the sixth-smallest pay gap in our study. The city’s tech workforce is made up of 27.2% women and has seen a 17% employment growth from 2016 to 2019. Women tech workers in Houston have an income of $61,016 after housing, the 13th-highest overall.

8. Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati, Ohio has the fourth-smallest gender pay gap in tech – our study shows that women earn 95 cents for every dollar that men get. Women in the Queen City make up 30.7% of the tech workforce, the seventh-largest for this metric overall. Their income after housing – at $48,886 – ranks in the bottom half of the study. But the industry itself has seen a 21% growth in employment the three-year period from 2016 to 2019.

9. Albuquerque, NM

Tech women in Albuquerque, New Mexico make about 95 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers earn, the fifth-smallest gender pay gap in our study. While women make up 30.6% of the city’s tech workforce, the eighth-largest in the study, Albuquerque’s tech industry has experienced relatively slow growth. It has seen only 13% growth from 2016 to 2019.

10. Jacksonville, FL

Women in Jacksonville, Florida make up 29.4% of the tech workforce, the 11th-largest in our study. For every dollar that men make, these Florida tech women earn 93 cents – the ninth-smallest gender pay gap overall. Jacksonville, however, finishes in the bottom half of this study with a slower tech industry growth of 17% from 2016 to 2019.

11. Long Beach, CA

Long Beach, California is the only city in the entire study where women in tech make more money than men. They reversed the gender pay gap by earning $1.01 for every dollar that men earn. The tech industry in this California city has seen steady three-year growth, ranking 14th out of 63 with a 27% increase from 2016 to 2019. Long Beach women make up 25.4% of the city’s tech workforce and have an income of $55,640 after housing.

12. Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, California may not stand out as an obvious destination for tech workers, but women make up 37.8% of its tech workforce, the third-largest in our study. That said, pay equity isn’t as high, as women in the industry earn only 88 cents for every dollar that men make. The Sacramento tech workforce has grown 32% in the three years from 2016 to 2019, the ninth-highest increase across all 63 cities in the study. Women tech workers in the city have an income of $46,289 after housing.

13. Philadelphia, PA

Women in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania make up 28.5% of the city’s tech workforce, the 15th-largest rate for this metric in the study. Their income is $52,530 after housing, and they have the 13th-smallest pay gap overall, earning 91 cents for every dollar that their male peers make. The city’s tech workforce has seen a 23% increase in the three-year period from 2016 to 2019, ranking towards the middle of the study for this metric.

14. Chandler, AZ

While women in Chandler, Arizona make up 28.1% of the city’s tech workforce – the 18th-largest in the study – they rank towards the middle of the study for gender pay gap, earning 85 cents for every dollar that men make. Chandler’s tech industry has seen a 23% growth from 2016 to 2019. Women in the city have an income of $60,269 after housing.

15. Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, Georgia rounds out the final place in our top 15. Tech employment has grown 33% over the three-year period from 2016 to 2019, the eighth-fastest in our study. Women in Atlanta tech earn 88 cents for every dollar that men make, placing it in about the top third of the study for that metric. Women in Atlanta make up 27.1% of the tech workforce and have an income of $52,594 after housing.

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