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Jewish Google employee quits alleging ‘Palestinian coworkers are being silenced’

·3-min read
Jewish Google employee quits alleging ‘Palestinian coworkers are being silenced’

A Google employee is quitting the company after accusing the tech giant of retaliating against employees who spoke out in support of Palestine.

Ariel Koren, who is Jewish, wrote a letter addressed to the search giant on Tuesday in which she said she is quitting the company because of its “retaliation” against her and her coworkers for protesting the company’s Project Nimbus.

The project is a $1.2bn dollar contract for a cloud computing system built by Google and Amazon to provide the Israeli government and military with artificial intelligence and machine-learning tools.

“Google is aggressively pursuing military contracts and stripping away the voices of its employees through a pattern of silencing and retaliation towards me and many others,” Ms Koren noted in a post on Medium.

She alleged the company’s contract with the government on Project Nimbus explicitly prevents Google from shutting down its services even in the event of employee protest.

“The contract explicitly makes the company powerless to stop its services regardless of whether Israel uses the technology to aid human rights violations,” Ms Koren wrote in the blog post.

“I am leaving Google this week due to retaliation & hostility against workers who speak out. Google moved my role overseas immediately after I opposed its $1B AI/surveillance contracts with Israel,” she tweeted.

Ms Koren, who says she has worked with the tech giant for over seven years, accused the company of “systematically” silencing Palestinian, Jewish, Arab and Muslim voices and is concerned about its “complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights”.

“Our Palestinian coworkers are being silenced across the company. Workers who support Palestinian rights are getting HR warnings, harassment, even pay cuts and negative performance review feedback,” she noted.

Ms Koren said the company silenced her and her colleagues to “protect its business interests with the Israeli military and government”.

“Our Palestinian colleagues deserve better than this; our Palestinian users deserve better than this. The general public deserves better than this,” she wrote in the letter.

“More & more workers are speaking out. Workers are fed up with Google’s aggressive pursuit of military contracts and pattern of unlawful retaliation. We are fighting back & we have each other’s backs,” Ms Koren wrote in a tweet.

Google said it “thoroughly investigated this employee’s claim,” and foundthere was no retaliation.”

“A government agency also dismissed the case when the employee filed a claim alleging she experienced retaliation,” a Google spokesperson said.

“In addition, we are proud that Google Cloud has been selected by the Israeli government to provide public cloud services to help digitally transform the country. The project includes making Google Cloud Platform available to government agencies for everyday workloads such as finance, healthcare, transportation, and education, but it is not directed to highly sensitive or classified workloads,” the spokesperson told The Independent.