Google employee quits after speaking out against company over deal with Israel's military

Ariel Koren, a self-proclaimed Jewish Google employee, has announced she will leave her job

A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif. , on Sept.  24, 2019. AP Photo
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An employee has accused Google of "retaliation", after she protested against a billion-dollar deal the company made with the Israeli military.

Describing herself as a "Jewish Google employee", Ariel Koren says she worked at the company for seven years but has now quit, after what she claims were "illegal actions" taken by the company that forced her to leave.

"Instead of listening to employees who want Google to live up to its ethical principles, 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 wrote in a blog post.

"I have consistently witnessed that instead of supporting diverse employees looking to make Google a more ethical company, Google systematically silences Palestinian, Jewish, Arab and Muslim voices concerned about Google's complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights — to the point of formally retaliating against workers and creating an environment of fear."

Ms Koren encouraged the public to learn more about the $1.2 billion dollar Project Nimbus and take action by protesting outside Google offices in the US on September 8.

She said a group for Jewish employees at Google was "systematically functioning as an outlet to drive forward right-wing ideologies under the guise of promoting diversity", instead of merely acting as a support system for Jewish people.

Google has not yet made a public statement on Ms Koren's claims.

Last year, in an open letter published in The Guardian, Google and Amazon workers condemned their companies' involvement in Project Nimbus, which they described as "a $1.2bn contract to provide cloud services for the Israeli military and government".

"This technology allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land," the letter said.

But in March, a similar call was renewed on Twitter by an account reportedly representing Amazon and Google employees standing against Project Nimbus.

Ms Koren's announcement that she was leaving her job drew mixed reactions from people on Twitter, with some praising her for the move and others saying she should have been fired.

epa09192712 People gather for a pro-Palestinian demonstration near the Consulate General of Israel in New York, New York, USA, 11 May 2021. The recent clashes between Palestine and Israel have prompted international calls for calm and raised fears that the situation could ignite into a wider conflict. In response to days of violent confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in Jerusalem, various Palestinian militants factions in Gaza launched rocket attacks on 10 and 11 May that killed three Israelis. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they hit over 100 targets in Gaza Strip during retaliatory overnight strikes on 10 May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on 11 May that they will increase the rate and intensity of the strikes. The Health Ministry of Gaza strip said that at least 26 Palestinian, including nine children, were killed from the recent Israeli airstrikes to date.  EPA/JUSTIN LANE

"You've loudly proclaimed 'no' to participating in furthering the injustice inflicted upon the Palestinians. Bravo and thank you!" said one user.

"Thank you for standing on the right side of history," a Palestinian by the name of Sejood Rantisi said.

But others were not so sympathetic of Ms Koren's public stance against Google.

"You were actively acting against your employer and now he send you out," said Dr Chris Bacon.

Updated: August 31, 2022, 3:22 PM
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