Algorithmic Palestine

A Partial Path to Liberation


  • Lara Hafez Stanford University
  • Maryam Khalil Stanford University
  • Ronnie Hafez Stanford University


Algorithmic technology rarely serves Palestine, but it can, if Palestinians have sovereignty over their data, language, models, land, and lives. For the last 75 years, since the creation of the State of Israel and the Nakba, Palestine has lacked sovereignty over all its basic living conditions. Currently, most algorithmic technology serves Israel’s occupation and surveillance of every sphere of Palestinian existence. Our paper first describes the current algorithmic conditions imposed on Palestine, showing how Silicon Valley Big Tech firms collude with the occupation even as they develop programs for Palestinians claim technology itself can lead to liberation. Rejecting such tech solutionism, we show the promising work Palestinians currently produce and delineate next steps for a free and thriving Palestine that include an intentional use of technology on terms Palestinians set themselves. We believe education and technology are essential to this end, and with a clear understanding of the many potential harms of algorithms, we propose that Palestinians design and maintain their own to serve their communities. Will algorithms free Palestine? No. But they can help build a free Palestine, which could include the right of return and/or full sovereignty over our contiguous lands, free of Israel’s divisions, surveillance, and administration.