…by their hatred of Microsoft?
Despite political and religious barriers that have traditionally kept them apart, a group of Arab and Israeli open source developers have managed to work together productively. Hebrew and Arabic teams working on local versions of OpenOffice, a free, open source alternative to Microsoft Office, have cooperated in overcoming development issues that they both share. Both Arabic and Hebrew read from right to left (as opposed to the left to right orientation of English).
Jonathan Ben Avraham, the chief executive officer of Israeli company Tk Open Systems, which works on developing the Hebrew OpenOffice.org project, stated
Although there is conflict going on outside the window, when you get down to the business, or engineering level, there is a remarkable amount of cooperation … For open-source software, this cooperation is carried out through mailing lists and forums and has almost no political overtones.
Munzir Taha, a developer on the Arabic OpenOffice.org project, stated that their cooperation allowed both teams to avoid wasting time working on similar tasks. “In terms of bidirectional support, Arabic and Hebrew face the same problems. A problem solved for one language automatically helps support for the other language support, which is good.” said Taha.
You can download OpenOffice for free from their Web site. Documents created in the OpenOffice suite are fully compatible with Microsoft Office and vice versa. Go on do it. Stick it to the man!