A few months ago, Yadin Kaufmann hosted a tech mentorship conference in Israel. A meeting hard to fathom now.

“And it’s heartbreaking to think that tomorrow that’s not going to be possible,” he told NY1 over a Zoom call from his home outside Tel Aviv.

What You Need To Know

  • Yadin Kaufmann started a nonprofit called the Palestinian Internship Program

  • It has helped hundreds of Palestinian entrepreneurs get connected with Israeli tech companies

  • For decades, he has worked to strengthen bonds between Israelis and Palestinians

Kaumann is a venture capitalist in Israel and started a nonprofit called the Palestinian Internship Program, which has helped hundreds of Palestinian entrepreneurs get connected with Israeli tech companies.

The conference this summer was for Palestinians and Israelis to connect, which included four young entrepreneurs from Gaza.

Of course, a few months later, Israel and Hamas are in the midst of a war. It started Oct. 7 because of the terrorist attack on Israel perpetrated by the terrorist group Hamas, which governs Gaza.

More than 1,400 Israelis were killed.

It has left the country in mourning and striking back, bombing and leveling parts of Gaza.

“We’ve lived here 38 years and we’ve never known a time like this,” said Kaufmann, who was born and raised in New York City.

He said he still has an apartment in the city but has lived in Israel for the last few decades.

“I moved here from New York because I wanted to make a difference here,” he said.

Kaufman said the difference is to bring Palestinians and Israelis together. He co-founded Sadara Ventures, which calls itself the first venture capital firm specifically focused on investing in the Palestinian tech industry.

Three years later, Kaufmann launched the Palestinian Internship Program.

“If we want to create a better future for ourselves, for our kids, and for the Palestinians and their kids, we’ve got to think a little bit differently to figure out ways we can do things together where we both benefit,” he said. 

Most of its success has come from the West Bank. Why? Kaufmann said it’s controlled by the Palestinian Authority which has renounced violence. He added Hamas restricts Gazans from getting permits for internships in Israel.  

“There have been conflicts with Gaza before this. There have been tense times with the West Bank also,” he said.

Kaufmann said this time is different, and that it may be too difficult to try to continue making inroads in Gaza now until Hamas isn’t in power.    

“This is helping the people who want to create something else over there,” he said. “So once the fighting is over and once hopefully there is a peaceful leadership in Gaza, then I believe we will be able to rebuild and continue these programs.”

In the meantime Kaufmann said the focus will remain in other Palestinian areas like the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

But earlier this month, he said he did reach out to the four Gazans who came to Kaufmann’s mentorship conference over the summer.

“I hope they are safe and I hope that as I said, I hope they can come to next year’s networking event and that things look very different from they look today,” he said.