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Science & Tech: Google Staffers Squabble Over $1.2b Contract With

SCIENCE & TECH: Google staffers squabble over $1.2B contract with Israel

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Google staffers are locked in an escalating office squabble over the search giant’s business ties with Israel, which include a $1.2 billion agreement to provide cloud services to the Israeli government called “Project Nimbus.”

On Wednesday, a group of Muslim, Palestinian, Arab and “anti-Zionist Jewish” Google staffers published an open letter that demanded the tech behemoth nix the Nimbus contract — even as it accused Israel of committing “genocide” under an “apartheid government and military.”

“We demand that Google stop providing material support to this genocide by canceling its Project Nimbus contract and immediately cease doing business with the Israeli apartheid government and military,” the group said, calling out CEO Sundar Pichai and Google Cloud boss Thomas Kurian.

Critics and activists working at Google have bashed Nimbus since the contract was signed in 2021, claiming it gives Israel tools to covertly monitor Palestine.

Googlers who support Israel meanwhile, have interpreted resistance to Nimbus as hostile, adding that when coworkers bash Israel’s actions in Gaza as “genocide,” it’s “deeply offensive,” according to accounts from staffers reported by The New York Times.

Three insiders told the Times that a worker was fired after writing on an internal Google message board that Israelis living near Gaza “deserved to be impacted.”

Google implemented “Project Nimbus” in 2021, a $1.2 billion contract that sees the tech behemoth providing cloud services to the Israeli government — and it has been a point of contention among staffers ever since.
REUTERS
Google workers against Nimbus expanded their campaign on Wednesday when they penned a scathing open letter demanding that Google nix the project.
REUTERS

In a statement, Google spokesperson Courtenay Mencini dismissed resistance to Nimbus as “part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don’t work at Google.”

“We have been very clear that the Nimbus contract is for workloads running on our commercial platform by Israeli government ministries such as finance, healthcare, transportation and education,” Mencini added. “Our work is not directed at highly sensitive or classified military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services.”

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s open letter griped that “Palestinians have been publicly called ‘animals’ on official Google work platforms” without any disciplinary action from leadership, and “Muslims have endured accusations of supporting terrorism as part of their religion.”

In other instances, employees who showed “empathy towards the besieged residents of Gaza” were dubbed “sick” and “a lost cause,” by managers, per the letter.

Software engineer Sarmad Gilani, who joined Google in 2012, was one of a handful of employees that confirmed publicly they had signed off on the open letter.

Gilani told the outlet that as a Google staffer, “you have to be very, very, very careful, because any sort of criticism toward the Israeli state can be easily taken as antisemitism.”

He claimed that although Google’s culture purports to celebrate all racial identities and sexual orientations, there’s a double standard that allows for “freedom of expression for Israeli Googlers versus Arab, Muslim and Palestinian Googlers.”

The open letter claimed that Google employees who showed “empathy towards the besieged residents of Gaza” were dubbed “sick” and “a lost cause,” by managers, while others “have been publicly called ‘animals.’”
AP

“I do not feel safe saying what I want to say,” Gilani said.

In the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 ambush attack on Israel, Google released a statement condemning Hamas, and days later vowed to Jewish employees that its internal platforms would be monitored for antisemitism — and that the company was prepared to fire offenders if need be, per the Times.

The following week, Pichai said in an internal email obtained by The Post that Jewish Google staffers were “experiencing a rise in antisemitic incidents.”

In that same message he acknowledged that Palestinian, Arab and Muslim employees were “deeply affected by a concerning rise in Islamophobia and are watching with dread as Palestinian civilians in Gaza have suffered significant loss and fear for their lives amid the escalating war and humanitarian crisis.”

Sarmad Gilani, who’s worked for Google for over a decade, was one of just a handful of employees that identified themselves to the NY Times as one of the letter’s supporters.

The staffers behind Wednesday’s open letter weren’t satisfied.

“We demand that Sundar Pichai, Thomas Kurian and other Google leadership issue a public condemnation of the ongoing genocide in the strongest possible terms,” they wrote.

Google spokesperson Courtenay Mencini noted that the Israel-Hamas war “is a highly sensitive time and topic in every company and workplace, and we have many employees who are personally affected.”

“The overwhelming majority of those employees are not engaged in internal discussions or debate, and many have said they’ve appreciated our fast response and our focus on the safety of our employees,” Mencini added.

Google’s experience isn’t unique: Its tech rival Apple scrapped employee Natasha Dach from its staff directory after her antisemitic social media post was unearthed by pro-Israel watchdog StopAntisemitism.

A screenshot of Dach’s social media posts indicates that she wrote: “You sneak into countries, steal peoples lives, jobs, homes, streets, push them, bully them, torture them.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said that the company’s internal platforms would be monitored for antisemitism — and that the company was prepared to fire offenders if need be.
AP
In the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 ambush attack on Israel, Google released a statement condemning Hamas,.
AP

Dach wrote that “when people act on it, you call it terrorism” — an apparent reference to the Oct. 7 surprise assault by Hamas which left at least 1,400 Israeli soldiers and civilians dead.

Just days prior, Apple reportedly shut down internal Slack channels used by Muslim and Jewish employees after workers posted verses of the Koran and organized protests in response to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

In the days and weeks after Hamas’ surprise terrorist assault on Israeli towns on Oct. 7, Microsoft shut down an internal discussion board after one employee wrote about a “strong sense of disillusionment with our work and the company” in light of “one-sided statements” by management in support of Israel.



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