I can't sleep

I can't sleep
Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

I can't sleep. I'm lying in bed every night, and images of Gaza are running through my head. Fathers holding their babies, dead, caked in dust. Bombs dropped on homes [1], on hospitals [2], on schools [3]. Tens of thousands of dead [4] in indiscriminate bombings [5]. Children crying, pulling through rubble to find their families [6].

The inhumanity of the soldiers is unbearable. They shoot civilians in the street [7], imprison and torture children [8], and strip and humiliate innocent men [9]. But the soldiers are having fun [10]. They're posting to TikTok [11], doing some war crimes [12], then celebrating on the beach [13]. I hate them. I hate them.

I can't work. I code for 5 minutes before their bodies come back. I must work, but who can do a startup through a genocide, when 20,000 are dead [14], when the Israeli-imposed starvation is setting in [15]. I try though; the distraction is good for me.

I look at my colleagues – the founders, the investors, my network, my friends, my advisors. I'm afraid to open their twitters. Each time I do, it's a roulette: is it business as usual – a new fundraise, the latest in AI, a new model released. The blasé posts are a relief. I can tell myself that they're censored, afraid to speak up about the genocide. Unable or not knowing how to do it. That's understandable.

The propaganda kills me. People I thought were friends, were allies. So much humanity for those killed on October 7th, none for the people killed on the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, or in November or December [16]. 20,000 people, killed by deliberate, indiscriminate bombing [17].

None either for the people killed on Oct 6th, 5th, 4th [18]. For the people massacred in 1948 [19] and since. No protest of the illegal occupation [20], the illegal settlements [21]. The razing of the villages [22] and the olive groves [23]. They don't exist to them; they didn't happen.

Palestinian refugees leaving the Galilee in October-November 1948 from Wikipedia

Have they no questions about why 2 million people live in Gaza and how they came to be there [24]. How Israel carefully controls the calories allowed into Gaza [25], keeping everyone starving. That Israel can turn off the water [26], can turn off the electricity [27]. That this is something a country is able to do to a people. That this is something a country is willing to do to a people [28].

Is this what Israel is? The tech outpost, the US ally, the beacon of democracy in the Middle East? A country that kills journalists [30] and writers in surgical strikes [31]. That forces doctors away from ICU babies, leaving them to die and rot in their incubators [32]. Whose snipers shoot children and grannies in the head [33].

79 year old Hadiya Nassar was killed by an Israeli sniper in December. Poet, writer, and professor Refaat Alareer was killed by a missile which also killed his brother, his sister, and her 4 children.

When the cofounder of Hamas was 9 years old, his uncle was massacred by Israeli soldiers in the Khan Yunis massacre, along with 274 other unarmed Palestinians. He was shot in house-to-house searches. Others were lined up and executed. How many Hamas' are being created today. [29]

When you read about the Holocaust and the Nazis, you like to imagine you'd be the good guy. You'd fight the Nazis, you'd free the concentration camps. But apparently I wouldn't. Apparently I would have just sat there paralyzed, incapable of doing anything about the genocide I see every day. Unable to think of any way to help. All I can do is retweet and protest and write a stupid blog post. I feel so stupid.

I wasn't ready to see that my friends are Brownshirts [34]. That they actively cheer on the genocide [35]. The anger, the desire – the need even – for retribution against innocent civilians. I wasn't ready for my friends being camp guards, party officials, propagandists.

The propaganda is real, and organized [36], and obvious [37]. Posting about antisemitism in universities to cover indiscriminate bombing of civilians -- have you no shame. Repeating Israeli claims which have no proof, and no credibility [38]. Keeping the discussion anywhere except on Palestinians being murdered in Gaza. Denying the number of dead because the numbers are reported by Hamas [39].

Of course, everyone is Hamas now. The child ripped in two by an MK-84 [40] is Hamas. The woman screaming for her sister, digging at the rubble – she's Hamas. The orphaned nine year old, now the sole parent of her 4 year old brother. Both are Hamas.

Death and trauma stalk Palestinian children
Injured children arrive at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis on Tuesday. Credit: Loay Ayyoub via Getty Images

Sometimes I work out how many people my taxes have killed [41]. Intrusive thoughts. Maybe they're used for roads or healthcare, but maybe I bought a bomb last year and it razed a city block in Khan Yunis. Maybe it killed 50 people. Maybe I killed 50 people.

My investors keep posting. How unsafe the kids feel at Harvard [42]. Railing against "From the river to the sea" as they conveniently omit "Palestine will be free" [43]. Cancelling Tiktok for teaching the kids history instead of US and Israeli propaganda [44].

“Members of the Haganah paramilitary group escort Palestinians expelled from Haifa after Jewish forces took control in April 1948 (AFP)”. Middle East Eye

Anything to keep your eyes off the rubble that Gaza has become [45]. The trail of tears to an empty desert, bombed and shot as they go [46]. Anything to avoid their own culpability in this genocide. They are Hess. They post Israeli flags on twitter as Israel drops bombs on Gaza. They protest a ceasefire. THEY PROTEST A FUCKING CEASEFIRE.

I don't know what to do, but I know these are not my people. Who can work with people whitewashing genocide. Are we supposed to pretend it's business as usual as we send our friends' intros, frolic at conferences, discuss monetization strategy.

To Ed Sim, Erica Brescia, Michael Dearing, and especially Matt Ocko, we're done [47]. I'll never pitch you again, never ask for help, never send intros or recommend you. I'm done with Boldstart, and DCVC, and Harrison Metal, and Redpoint. (I’m also done with Bessemer [48] and Sequoia [49] and First Round [50].)

I'm ashamed that these are some of my biggest supporters over the years, the people who invested in me, twice, the people who helped, who advised. I cannot work with the people whitewashing a killing, the people who know it's happening, and who cover for it, who support the IDF and the US administration which allows it, which funds it.

Oct 7th was an atrocity, and so was every day since then. 20,000 Palestinians have been killed by indiscriminate, deliberate Israeli bombs.

Atrocities happened long before Oct 7th as well. The occupation was no secret. Hundreds of Palestinians killed each year since the Nakba. The rest kept under the Israeli boot, stripped of their rights and homes and dignity.

Their politicians tweet about Palestinians like they aren't human. They discuss them like their lives don’t matter. They call them “animals”. They have killed thousands of Palestinians, and give every indication that they will continue the genocide.

They are saying it out loud [51]. I can see it, and so could Ed and Michael and Matt and Erica. They simply choose not to.


Pro-Israeli investors have created a culture of fear in tech where supporters of Palestinian freedom feel unable to raise their voices. I have spoken to many people in tech who are afraid that if they speak up, they’ll be unable to raise their next round, and lose 5-10 years of work on their venture, for their families and for their employees.

We must break the silence around the genocide in Gaza. I know this is a big ask. I know there are significant risks involved, and that's not your fault. But all the same, we cannot continue to be complicit in this genocide.

  • Above all, name it. Say publicly what you see happening, and say that what Israel and the US are doing is wrong. 
    • Feel silenced? Say that!
    • Just like most in tech made Black Lives Matter statements in 2020, come out and say #FreePalestine. Put a banner on your website.
  • Secondly, don’t make money for investors who whitewash genocide, namely partners at Boldstart, DCVC, Harrison Metal, Redpoint, Bessemer, Sequoia, or First Round.
    • Tech workers: Don’t work for companies who take funding from these firms. If you already work there, contact management and the founders, ask difficult questions in all-hands, anonymously if you need to. Threaten to get a new job – actually do get a new job.
    • Founders: don’t take money from these firms. If you already have, contact your partner to register your discomfort, and ask them to divest. Prevent them from investing in later rounds.
  • Attend a protest. Find your local (US) Jewish Voice For Peace or international protest.
  • Call your representative and senator
  • Follow Palestinian journalists and sources to follow what’s happening in Gaza through their eyes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  • Finally, please share this post or my post on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, Linkedin.


[1] See for example here or here, but hundreds of apartment blocks were in Gaza before its destruction. +972 Magazine reports that Israel has “A concerted policy to bomb family homes”, and details many accounts from those whose homes were bombed and families killed.

[2] As of Nov 11, Israel had destroyed over half of hospitals in Gaza

[3] Israel bombed a UN school on Nov 19th, killing "dozens" of women and children sheltering there.

[4] The official death count on Dec 13 is 18,600, including over 5000 children. however, officials have lost the ability to count.

The accuracy of the Gaza Ministry of Health’s reporting of death tolls has been shown to be accurate by recent studies when looking at the 2008, 2014, and 2015 wars. US medical journal Lancet reviewed and affirms the numbers provided in the current war.

“These figures are professionally done and have proven to be reliable,” said Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director.

[5] Even President Biden has called the attacks “indiscriminate”, though the death toll and pictures of a destroyed Gaza demonstrate that directly.

[6] Example

[7] Israeli soldiers have been recorded shooting civilians who pose no threat, including children and a mentally disabled man. They even shot an Israeli civilian in Jerusalem, who was unarmed and had surrendered, falsely believed to be Hamas:

“When the soldiers saw him I’m assuming they thought he was a terrorist. But then when Yuval realized that that’s what they’re thinking, he opened his jacket to show he had nothing underneath, and got down on his knees. He opened his hands, so they could see he had nothing in his hands,” said Itkovich.
“He was shouting in Hebrew. He was shouting ‘I’m an Israeli.’ He threw his wallet, his identification, on the way so they could see he’s an Israeli. And they just shot him. They gunned him down,” he said.

[8] This well-referenced Human Rights Watch article (see similar on CNN and NBC) contains so many harrowing descriptions of shocking treatment of prisoners that you should read the whole thing. These excerpts barely do it justice:

As of November 1, Israeli authorities held nearly 7,000 Palestinians from the occupied territory in detention for alleged security offenses.
Far more Palestinians have been arrested since the October 7 attacks in Israel than have been released in the last week. Among those being held are dozens of women and scores of children.
The majority have never been convicted of a crime, including more than 2,000 of them being held in administrative detention, in which the Israeli military detains a person without charge or trial. Such detention can be renewed indefinitely based on secret information, which the detainee is not allowed to see. Administrative detainees are held on the presumption that they might commit an offense at some point in the future.
More than 1,400 complaints of torture, including painful shackling, sleep deprivation and exposure to extreme temperatures [...]
[...] in 22 cases of detention of Palestinian children they documented in 2023, 64 percent  said they were physically abused and 73 percent  were strip searched by Israeli forces while in detention.

Prisoners released by the IDF in November report being beaten:

Na’im told CBS News. "Any new prisoner was coming in, he looked beaten up. We requested medicine or other stuff and they refused to give it to us."
“He kept beating me for eight minutes with a stick and without caring where it lands,” Mohammed Nazal told Al Jazeera of how an Israeli guard tortured him.
“I was covering my head. The stick was aimed here, at my head, but my hands would receive the blow.”
Ahmed Al-Salaima told PBS “After October 7th, they started hitting female prisoners. And they started to reduce the quantity of the food. There were 9 of us in the room and they gave us two meals in small quantities. Before entering the jail, I was 158 pounds, but now I’m 121 pounds”

PBS has more testimony by released prisoners on their treatment.

New testimony from Gazan boys captured on December 5th shows the torture continues. It is even described to politicians who inspect the prisons.

[9] The IDF captured a group of men, stripped them to their underwear, blindfolded them and put them in trucks. The IDF later admitted that 85-90% of these men had no connection to Hamas, and provided no proof about the remaining 10-15%.

[10] This compilation thread by Palestinian writer and Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor Comms Chief Muhammad Shehada shows social media of IDF soldiers torturing prisoners, followed by Israeli civilians mocking and memeing about it. This was confirmed by other media.

[11] From ABC:

In one, soldiers ride bicycles through rubble. In another, a soldier has moved Muslim prayer rugs into a bathroom. In another, a soldier films boxes of lingerie found in a Gaza home. Yet another shows a soldier trying to set fire to food and water supplies that are scarce in Gaza. 

[12] This isn’t the only video I’ve seen of Palestinians being used as human shields by the IDF in the occupied Palestinian territories, but I’m trying to restrict most of the references in this piece to legacy media sites.

[13] Example

[14] This CNN chart updates as the death toll increases

[15] Israel blockaded Gaza from receiving food after October 7th, though a small amount (about 20 trucks a day, for a region that needs 100 trucks a day for subsistence) was allowed through during the Humanitarian pause. Gazans on the ground report they are starving. 

[16] By Oct 17th, over 3,000 Gazans had been killed by Israel. By Dec 12th, that number had risen to over 18,000.

[17] Even President Biden, a self described Zionist and friend of Israel, has referred to Israel’s actions as “indiscriminate bombing

[18] Labib Dmaidi was shot dead on October 6th by Israeli settlers. Dozens have been killed each year, including in 2014 when thousands were killed. 

[19] The Deir Yassin massacre in 1948 was committed by the forces that would become the IDF, in which at least 107 people were massacred.

“Women and children were stripped, lined up, photographed, and then slaughtered by automatic firing and survivors have told of even more incredible bestialities,” the report said. “Those who were taken prisoners were treated with degrading brutality.”

This was part of the Nakba, in which 15,000 Palestinians were killed and 750,000 were forced to flee. 

[20] Israel has been deemed to violate many of the UN Conventions that were specifically drawn up after World War II to prevent the Nazis’ actions from happening again. Occupying land annexed by force (including Gaza and the West Bank) is illegal.

[21] Israel supports "settlements" to expand possession of Palestinian territory, despite being against international law. The settlers are frequently violent, and they are often armed or accompanied by the IDF. There are now 500,000 settlers in the West Bank.

[22] During the Nakba, pre-Israeli militias razed villages to prevent the returns of Palestinians to their land.

From 1947 to 1949, some 750,000 Palestinian Arabs were made refugees, and more than 500 Palestinian towns and villages were depopulated, most through direct attacks by Zionist militias that later became the Israeli Army.

[23] From the Yale Review of International Studies: Israel’s Campaign Against Palestinian Olive Trees

Remarkably, olive trees contribute to 14% of Palestine’s economy.
Beyond the monetary value, olive trees have become symbolic of Palestinians attachment to their land.
Since 1967, more than 800,000 Palestinian olive trees have been illegally uprooted by the Israeli authority.3 In August 2021 alone, more than 9,000 have been removed

[24] Gaza is a tiny strip of land that was occupied by Egypt in 1948, and so was one of the only safe places for refugees from the Nakba to go. After 750,000 fled from Israeli massacres throughout Palestine, over 200,000 settled in Gaza.

[25] From The Guardian in 2011:

The Israeli military made precise calculations of Gaza's daily calorie needs to avoid malnutrition during a blockade imposed on the Palestinian territory between 2007 and mid-2010, according to files the defense ministry released on Wednesday under a court order. 

[26] Israel controls the water in Palestine. West Bank Palestinians get access to only a third of the water that Israelis can use, and only 82% of the WHO recommended minimum.

From Amnesty International in 2017:

In Gaza, some 90-95 per cent of the water supply is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Israel does not allow water to be transferred from the West Bank to Gaza, and Gaza’s only fresh water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is insufficient for the needs of the population and is being increasingly depleted by over-extraction and contaminated by sewage and seawater infiltration.

From Human Rights Watch:

After October 7, the Israeli government shut off the pipes that supply Gaza with water.
It has since only resumed piping water to some parts of southern Gaza while some water has entered via Egypt, but it’s not reaching everyone and is not nearly enough to meet the needs of Gaza’s population, requiring many to rely on the local water supply. According to the UN however, more than 96 percent of the water supply in Gaza is “unfit for human consumption.”

[27] Israel controls access to fuel in Gaza, as it has for 2 decades. From Al Jazeera:

Israel classed diesel as a “dual use” good that can be used for military as well as civilian purposes. Therefore, it is heavily controlled or restricted.
However, Israel wrote the rule book on “kosher fuel” for Gaza, a highly complex system of approvals and monitoring put in place to guarantee that “civilian use” fuel flows only to Gaza’s sole power plant.

[28] From Times of Israel:

“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed,” [Defense Minister] Gallant says following an assessment at the IDF Southern Command in Beersheba. “We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,” he adds.

[29] The Khan Yunis massacre was documented in Footnotes In Gaza by Joe Sacca, containing many first-person accounts, including a conversation in the foreword with Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, co-founder of Hamas (along with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin). He stated “I still remember the wailing and tears of my father over his brother. I couldn’t sleep for many months after that… It left a wound in my heart that can never heal. They planted hatred in our hearts.”

[30] At least 68 journalists have been killed in Gaza since the war began. Reporters Without Borders claims Israel is “eradicating” journalism in Gaza.

[31] The killing of Refaat al-Areer on December 7th, a well-known Palestinian poet and writer. It is alleged that he was targeted in a surgical strike which destroyed only the apartment at which he was staying. The Israeli missile strike also killed his brother, his sister, and her four children.

[32] Israeli soldiers forced doctors and staff to leave Al Nasr hospital on November 10th. Two weeks later, 5 babies were found decomposing in the ruins of the hospital.

[33] Hadiya Nassar, a 79 year old Palestinian woman, was shot by an Israeli sniper. Israeli soldiers have also been seen killing children and elderly men.

During the Great March of Return, Israeli snipers shot over 6000 unarmed civilians, killing at least 150. The testimony of the soldiers is horrifying, as was a video shared of an onlooker cheering. This has been happening a long time, such as this story from 2005.

[34] Nazis

[35] I recommend reading the report from Jewish Currents, calling the invasion a genocide. It has also been called a genocide by the International Federation for Human Rights, Director of the New York office of the High Commission for Human Rights Craig Mokhiber

[36] Lee Fang and Jack Poulson uncovered the pro-Israel information machine, a collaboration between pro-Israeli investors, tech executives, activists, and government officials. They collaborate to fire anyone arguing in favor of Palestinian freedom, including Courtney Carey from Wix, and Paddy Cosgrave from Websummit, and to put public pressure on any comments deemed anti-Israel.

[37] When folks suddenly start talking about anti-semitism at universities, or maligning slogans of Palestinian freedom, we know it’s to cover up the genocide that’s going on in Gaza.

[38] Joseph Massad, professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University, makes the case that Israeli propaganda has been repeatedly shown to be false, and that they have no credibility apart from what is parroted by Western news organizations.

[39] The accuracy of the Gaza Ministry of Health’s reporting of death tolls has been shown to be accurate by recent studies when looking at the 2008, 2014, and 2015 wars. US medical journal Lancet reviewed and affirms the numbers provided in the current war.

“These figures are professionally done and have proven to be reliable,” said Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director.

[40] A 2000 lb bomb. From the NY Times:

Israel’s liberal use of very large weapons in dense urban areas, including U.S.-made 2,000-pound bombs that can flatten an apartment tower, is surprising, some experts say.
“It’s beyond anything that I’ve seen in my career,” said Marc Garlasco, a military adviser for the Dutch organization PAX and a former senior intelligence analyst at the Pentagon. To find a historical comparison for so many large bombs in such a small area, he said, we may “have to go back to Vietnam, or the Second World War.”
In fighting during this century, by contrast, U.S. military officials often believed that the most common American aerial bomb — a 500-pound weapon — was far too large for most targets when battling the Islamic State in urban areas like Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria.

[41] An MK-84 costs $16,000, so your taxes can kill more civilians than you think.

[42] I’ll note that the same conservatives screaming about freedom of speech for the last decade were the first to ask for freedom of speech to be shut down at universities.

[43] “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is deliberately misconstrued to imply the genocide of the the Israel people. When taken at face value, it can clearly be seen to aim for Palestinian freedom. Jewish Currents has a good article on this from 2021.

[44] Tech leaders such as the Information’s Sam Lessin called out Tiktok’s foreign ownership, complaining that it is a major national security threat. My understanding is that this referred to the significant difference between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian hashtags, with #freepalestine winning by a margin of 4-1.

Tiktok responded essentially that the kids are alright, and that millennials are much more likely to sympathize with Palestinian oppression.

Which I suppose is Lessin’s point.

[45] See The Guardian

[46] After Israel demanded that civilians evacuate, they dropped bombs on fleeing refugees

[47] Matt Ocko’s statements are quite something. I can’t believe someone would say that out loud, never mind post it on Twitter.

[48] Bessemer Ventures’ Adam Fisher was named as one of the leaders in the pro-Israeli propaganda group uncovered by Lee Fang and Jack Poulson.

[49] Shaun Maguire

[50] AFAICT, First Round’s Josh Kopelman was instrumental in canceling Paddy Cosgrave for saying “War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are”, and being one of the few people in tech saying so. It took about a day for Cosgrave to be fired.

[51] A selection of quotes by senior Israeli officials:

Human animals must be treated as such. There will be no electricity and no water [in Gaza], there will only be destruction. You wanted hell, you will get hell.”  –  Major General Ghassan Alian, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories
“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly – Defense Minister Yoav Gallant
To be clear, when they say that Hamas needs to be eliminated, it also means those who sing, those who support and those who distribute candy, all of these are terrorists. [...] They should all be eliminated – Itamar Ben-Gvir, Minister of National Security
There will be no Palestinian state here. We will never allow another state to be established between the Jordan and the sea. We will never go back to Oslo – Shlomo Karhi, Minister of Communications, Likud Party
Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 48. Nakba in Gaza and Nakba to anyone who dares to join! – Ariel Kallner, Likud Party [Tweet preserved here]