Employees Cry, Scream, and Quit Over Google’s Contract With Israeli Government - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Employees Cry, Scream, and Quit Over Google’s Contract With Israeli Government
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Google signed a contract last year with Amazon to provide cloud services to the Israeli government. Israel is using the contract in various government agencies for purposes such as education, health care, and transportation. 

Many Google employees have argued that the company’s business relationship with the Israeli government is morally reprehensible, claiming that Israel is engaged in war crimes or is oppressing Palestinians. 

Employees are planning a “day of action” on Sept. 8 in an attempt to end the contract. The group behind the planned protests, “No Tech for Apartheid,” claims that hundreds of Google and Amazon workers oppose the contract.

The group subscribes to the strategy of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, saying on its website, “Following in the footsteps of those who fought to divest from apartheid South Africa and won, it’s our responsibility to rise up in support of Palestinian freedom.”

One of the leaders of the yearlong campaign to get Google to cancel its contract with Israel, Ariel Koren, announced this week that she will leave her job at the company and alleged that Google retaliated against her for her activism. She garnered sympathetic New York Times coverage for her exit. 

In announcing that she would quit, she accused Israel of “actively carrying out war crimes and upholding apartheid.” Koren added that she opposes “the occupation of historic Palestine” and “the idea of a Jewish ethno-state.”

She wrote that she believes Google’s cloud technology could “have the potential to expand Israel’s pattern of surveillance, racial profiling, and other forms of tech-assisted human rights violations.”

Google’s cloud technology, which was made available to Israel, includes video intelligence and automated-image-categorization capabilities, among other artificial-intelligence features, the Intercept reported. Other countries, including the United States, have also signed contracts with Google Cloud. 

Koren, who sold educational products in Latin America and was previously based in Mexico, said that, after she returned in November from disability leave for depression, anxiety, and burnout, the company told her that her job location had moved to Brazil and that she would need to decide in about three weeks whether she would like to make the move. In response, she filed complaints alleging she was retaliated against. She took another disability leave in February and still has not returned to work. During that time, she dedicated herself to protesting the company’s contract with Israel.

Over 700 Google employees signed a petition accusing Google of retaliating against Koren for her opposition to the contract with Israel. The same petition was signed by over 25,000 members of the public and was sponsored by various organizations associated with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

Google workers are continuing to push back against the company’s working relationship with Israel. 

This week, Google employees launched a website to voice their grievances with the company’s alleged “anti-Palestinian bias,” which they say has partly “enabled Google to justify its 1 billion dollar contract with the Israeli government.”

One anonymous Palestinian Google employee said, “Countless employees have tried to speak out about the violations the Palestinians have endured and have been intentionally ignored”; an Arab Google employee said, “[The contract] makes me feel ashamed to work here”; and another Palestinian Google employee said, “[W]hy are they choosing to profit from a billion dollar contract with a government and military which consistently violates international law?”

Ninety anonymous workers at Google also published an op-ed in the Guardian last year condemning the contract with Israel. The workers claimed the technology “allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land.”

A company spokesperson said Tuesday that Google is “proud” to provide “public cloud services to help digitally transform the country.”

Ellie Gardey
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Ellie Gardey is reporter and assistant editor at The American Spectator. Follow her on Twitter @EllieGardey.
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