Jewish Google worker writes letter saying she's quitting, accuses the company of 'creating an environment of fear' for employees who support Palestine

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The exterior of a Google store photographed on June 09, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

  • A Jewish Google employee wrote a letter saying she’s leaving the company because of alleged retaliation.

  • Ariel Koren accused Google of “complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights.”

  • Google has a billion-dollar contract with Amazon and the Israeli government and military.

In a letter addressed to her fellow Googlers, Ariel Koren said she was leaving Google and accused the company of retaliating against her and other employees who spoke out in support of Palestine.

“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,” Koren, who described herself a “Jewish Google worker,” wrote on Medium.

Koren, who said she has worked at Google for over seven years, was one of two employees who spoke out against the company in October 2021 for the $1.2 billion Project Nimbus, a partnership between Google, Amazon, and the Israeli government and military. In May 2021, amidst Israeli military violence that killed some Palestinians in Gaza, Google announced its part in Project Nimbus, Koren wrote.

Through Project Nimbus, a cloud computing system built by Google and Amazon will provide the Israeli government and military with artificial intelligence and machine-learning tools.

“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.”

Koren accused Google of silencing her and her colleagues to “protect its business interests with the Israeli military and government.”

In the letter, Koren said Google is “weaponizing” its diversity, equity, and inclusion, and employee resource group systems to “justify” its alleged silencing and retaliation against workers speaking out against Google’s work with Israel.

Koren also wrote that the group for Jewish employees at Google, Jewglers, is “systemically functioning as an outlet to drive forward right-wing ideologies under the guise of promoting diversity.” The worker group, Koren wrote, uses its “platform and access to Google’s DEI and HR leads,” to “silence the voices of Googlers who support Palestinian freedom.”

In a previous article for Insider, Koren wrote about Google asking her to relocate to Brazil after she spoke out against Project Nimbus while on disability leave in October 2021.

The decision to leave Google was “difficult,” Koren wrote in her new letter published on Medium, adding that she has the “privilege” to speak out against Google “safely” unlike her Palestinian colleagues and friends.

“Our Palestinian colleagues deserve better than this; our Palestinian users deserve better than this,” Koren wrote. “The general public deserves better than this.”

In an emailed statement shared with Insider, a Google spokesperson said the company prohibits retaliation in the workplace, and “thoroughly investigated” Koren’s claim, finding that “there was no retaliation here.”

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

In a call with Insider, Koren said, “The most important thing about the letter are the worker testimonies that I linked to.” She added that people at Google who are impacted and engaged in Palestinian rights weren’t surprised about the testimonies.

Koren said Google has not responded to her, and she hasn’t heard anything from them.

“More and more workers are invigorated to speak out,” Koren said. “There’s just going to be more voices. Google at some point is going to have to respond to our voices.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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