Google fired an employee who protested its contract with the Israeli military

Illustration of Google’s wordmark, written in red and pink on a dark blue background.

Google has fired an employee who publicly protested the company’s work for the Israeli military. During a presentation by an executive with Google’s Israel branch on Monday, the now-former Google Cloud engineer stood up and shouted, “I refuse to build technology that powers genocide or surveillance.”

Google confirmed the firing, which was first reported by CNBC, in an email to The Verge. “Earlier this week, an employee disrupted a coworker who was giving a presentation — interfering with an official company-sponsored event,” Google spokesperson Bailey Tomson says in an emailed statement. “This behavior is not okay, regardless of the issue, and the employee was terminated for violating our policies.”

The incident occurred at Mind the Tech, an annual Israeli tech conference in New York, during a presentation from Google Israel managing director Barak Regev. The engineer was protesting Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion Israeli government contract for access to cloud services from Google and Amazon. “Project Nimbus puts Palestinian community members in danger,” the employee said. “No cloud apartheid.” The employee was escorted out of the presentation shortly after.

Google faced pushback over its involvement in Project Nimbus when the contract was signed in 2021. Hundreds of Google and Amazon employees published an open letter to speak out against the deal, saying the technologies “allow for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians.”

No Tech For Apartheid, an organization rallying against Project Nimbus, published a statement about the engineer’s firing on Friday. “Google’s aims are clear: The corporation is trying to silence workers to hide their moral failings,” the organization said. “As a Cloud Software Engineer on critical technology that enables Project Nimbus to run on sovereign Israeli data centers, this worker spoke from a place of deep personal concern about the direct, violent impacts of their labor.”

Since the Israel-Hamas war broke out last October, employees have staged a “die-in” at the company’s San Francisco offices to protest the cloud services contract, and over 600 employees signed a letter urging Google to stop sponsoring the Mind the Tech conference, according to a report from Wired.

SOURCE

Leave a Comment