Google employees protest company’s work with Israeli government

A demonstration was staged by a group of Google employees on Tuesday at two of the company’s offices, protesting against the collaboration between the tech giant and the Israeli government.

The sit-in heightened the ongoing conflict within tech companies regarding the Gaza war and the ethical concerns of selling technology to Israel.

The protesters, situated at Google’s offices in Sunnyvale, California, entered the workspace of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, vowing to remain until their demand is met: that Google withdraws from a $1.2 billion contract shared with Amazon, providing cloud services and data centers to the Israeli government.

Additionally, another group of demonstrators occupied a common area at one of Google’s New York City offices. According to Zelda Montes, one of the participating workers, police were en route to the Sunnyvale office around 10:45 a.m. in California, as confirmed by a spokesperson for the protesters.

Since its signing in 2021, the contract, known as Nimbus, has faced opposition from some employees and external activists. However, protests have intensified over the past seven months due to ongoing bombings by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, following Hamas’s cross-border attack on Israel on October 7.

Demonstrations have taken various forms, including circulating internal emails, protesting outside company offices, and staging a “die-in” outside one of Google’s buildings in San Francisco, disrupting traffic in December.

The protests coincided with actions by pro-Palestinian activists who blocked highways, bridges, and airport entrances across the United States in a coordinated series of demonstrations against Israel’s invasion of Gaza and U.S. military support for the country.

In early March, Google terminated a worker who protested during a speech by Google’s top executive in Israel at a conference in New York. Montes, a software engineer at Google-owned YouTube, acknowledged the risk of potential termination for her participation in the protest. She highlighted the importance of considering the impact of one’s work on the world and expressed anticipation for others to join her in putting their jobs at stake.

The contract under scrutiny was signed with the Israeli government in its entirety. However, concerns were raised among some tech employees when Israeli officials initially stated that the deal’s terms prevent Google and Amazon from refusing services to specific government segments, raising fears that their work could be used for military purposes.

Recent reports by Time Magazine revealed negotiations between Google and Israel’s Defense Ministry in recent weeks.

Organizers reported the involvement of Amazon employees in anti-Nimbus activities, with some attending rallies on Tuesday. Employees opposing the contract with Israel have reportedly clashed with their Tel Aviv-based counterparts since the conflict began in October, as previously reported by The Washington Post.

At an Amazon shareholder meeting in May, anti-Nimbus Amazon employees announced their support for a resolution requesting a third-party investigative report on whether the use of Amazon’s products and services with surveillance, computer vision, or cloud storage capabilities contributes to human rights violations or breaches international humanitarian law.

Montes criticized Google for selling technology to the Israeli government and military, referencing the Time Magazine report, stating it is deplorable and accusing the company of misleading its employees.

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