Software engineer of Palestinian origin says fired over app calling for boycott of Israeli products

Software engineer of Palestinian origin says fired over app calling for boycott of Israeli products

Ahmed Bashbash developed No Thanks mobile app after losing his brother in Gaza last October- Mobile app enables users to identify products associated with companies linked to Israel- Developer says app informs people where their money is going; people do not want to be complicit in war crimes- 'Boycott is not a trend. It is a new lifestyle ... I don't want my money to kill anyone,' he says

By Sule Ozkan

ISTANBUL (AA) - A software engineer of Palestinian origin said he was fired after he developed a mobile app to support boycott efforts against Israel, which has waged a deadly offensive in the Gaza Strip for over six months.

The developer, Ahmed Bashbash, is a Palestinian born and raised in Gaza who came to Hungary on scholarship to study computer science engineering.

He developed the No Thanks mobile app after he lost his brother in the ongoing conflict in Gaza, enabling users to identify products associated with companies linked to Israel. It lets customers scan product barcodes and receive information if the item is produced by Israeli-linked companies.

"The first idea that came to my mind when I was in a supermarket. I wanted to buy a few things ... but I literally stood up in front of the products and I was like, 'Is that in the boycott list or not'? ... I was like, it would have been very easier if I could just scan the barcode and see if it is in the boycott list or not. And from there, I got the idea of doing this ... but it was just an idea."


- App dedicated to late brother

Bashbash said he decided to implement the idea after his brother got killed in Israeli bombing on Oct. 31, 2023. He just went to for a visit to Gaza, but was killed in the attack that destroyed four buildings.

"He was in the balcony drinking coffee," he told Anadolu. "He was just visiting our relatives ... It was a little bit hard for me as I [also] lost my sister in 2020, and I couldn't even see her or attend her funeral or anything because I am in Hungary. Traveling to Gaza would be impossible."

He said since Israeli attacks are continuing relentlessly, he could not even go and see his dead brother. "It literally killed me that I wasn't there for my brother ... And from there, like, I was, okay, I will do something on his behalf as a charity work for him. And from there, I started to develop this No Thanks app."

Bashbash said he launched the app for the convenience of himself and his friends, and did not realize it would be met with an overwhelming response. "I didn't think it will go that viral," he said.


- Boycott to let people know where their money is going

Stressing that the boycott against Israel helps people learn where their money is going, Bashbash said people do not want to be complicit in war crimes when they shop.

"I do not want my money to be a part of killing my brother, and another 32,000 people, most them children and women. I don't want my money to be a part of that," he said.

He stressed companies will get the necessary message such that they channel their money to the right places and not to support war, illegal settlements and genocide.

"We are just doing that to tell this company, 'please pay attention for what you're doing with your money, with your revenue. With my money, I am buying your product. You need me, I don't need you,'" he said, adding that the list is renewed every day and if the companies stop supporting "this genocide," they will be removed from the boycott list.

"Boycott is not a trend. It is a new lifestyle ... I don't want my money to kill anyone," Bashbash asserted.


- Let go prematurely

He said he was an intern at Evosoft and was let go prematurely due to his app. "The HR manager literally told me that, 'I'm sorry, we had to.' It was a contract as an internship, and they had to cancel it immediately just because of No Thanks. And they literally told me, like, 'we had to release you just because of your app.'

"And to be honest, I knew that it would happen, and I didn't care, to be honest. Like, the internship was going to end after three weeks ... it was going to end anyway ... but they had to terminate it immediately because of my app."

He said there was a campaign against him on social media to fire him, which worked. "Like, one of them, [started] a hashtag #FireAhmedBashbash from Evosoft on LinkedIn. And from that I got fired," he said.

But, he added, there were others who supported him, and that is what "kept me going."

"I aimed to help people, to make No Thanks a tool for them, and they actually liked it, and started to spread it."

Sharing that he was insulted as antisemitic, terrorist and racist, Bashbash said the app has nothing to do with antisemitism and the statements are just meant to defame boycott campaigns.

Continuing his life in Hungary, he said he received threats and could not predict what future holds for him.


*Writing by Serdar Dincel in Istanbul

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