06 Sep 2022
In our last issue, we spoke out about Project Nimbus and what it means to us. Now, as we kick off a week of action with demonstrations this Thursday, 15 more voices have joined us. Read more and sign up to join us, too.
The Worker’s Perspective
Last week, worker-organizer Ariel Koren resigned publicly from Google, one of many people speaking out against Project Nimbus, a $1.2B contract with the Israeli apartheid government and military. Her resignation letter and accompanying New York Times piece cites a pattern at Google of silencing and retaliating against Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, anti-Zionist Jewish, and other allied Googlers who speak up for Palestinian rights and in opposition to Project Nimbus.
Today begins a week of action calling Google and Amazon to drop Project Nimbus. Join us this Thursday, September 8 at demonstrations in Seattle, San Francisco, and New York to demand No Tech for Apartheid. You can also sign here to add your name.
As a part of our coworker’s public resignation, 15 Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, anti-Zionist Jewish, and other allied Googlers told their stories about their experience with anti-Palestinian racism within the company, and how this culture of fear and repression enables Google to justify doing business with Israeli apartheid through Project Nimbus. You can listen to their full stories at bit.ly/Google-Voices. We’re sharing a selection below.
“HR issued warnings… for having empathy” by a Palestinian Worker at Google
I’ve been a Googler for nearly a decade. For a long time, I felt like I could bring my whole self to work. All that ended in May 2021. As a Palestinian, I was deeply impacted by the Israeli assault on Gaza. Seeing people who look and sound like my family being killed, injured, and losing their homes took a massive toll on my mental health. At work, I heard leaders giving condolences to Israelis with no mention of how Palestinian googlers might be impacted (despite the majority of the death toll being Palestinian, including 66 Palestinian children killed). This experience made me feel my identity was being erased at work.
My feelings of marginalization only grew when I began seeing my coworkers getting accused of antisemitism and called into meetings with HR for voicing pro-Palestinian sentiments. Many of them were issued warnings, just for having empathy for Palestinians. It’s clear Google has a financial interest in Israel, and internally that’s translated into systemic policies that weaponize antisemitism against anyone who criticizes Israel or raises concern about Palestinian human rights.
In one instance, I attended a diversity meeting hosted by someone reporting to Melonie Parker, our Chief Diversity Officer. During this meeting, Google DEI announced a series of new formal partnerships with nonprofit organizations. The team said these partnerships were intended to promote religious tolerance at Google. Two out of three of the organizations mentioned have content on their website explicitly linking support of Palestine to antisemitism. This sort of partnership is another example of Google explicitly endorsing and funding groups and efforts that harm Palestinians, and weaponizing the notion of “DEI” to do so. I tried to raise to the DEI Team that this harms me, but I was repeatedly brushed off and ignored by them.
“I feel like I’m working for the bad guy,” by a Palestinian Googler
Something I have exceptionally struggled with is Google’s apathy towards the suffering that it benefits from and profits off of. I joined the company around the same time as Israel’s latest siege of Gaza in May of 2021. The calamity-induced doomscrolling made it difficult to focus on my onboarding. This persisted for a couple weeks before our CEO Sundar gave a stanceless show of support to all Googlers affected. It hurt when the messiness of the situation exonerated us as a company, as it seemingly always does, from any pursuit of justice or accountability. And so naturally it hurts even more when Google takes obvious stances against aggression and suffering as it rightly did with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but not with the abuses that directly affect my family. It would be one thing if we as a collective simply didn’t know better, but we do: countless employees have tried to speak out about the same violations the Palestinians have endured and have been intentionally ignored. So when opaque military contracts arise like Project Nimbus, it makes me feel overwhelmingly like my and my family’s suffering are a known and accepted byproduct. It makes me feel like social causes are only taken up by Google when there is no real possibility of backlash. It makes me feel, despite all the time I spend trying to convince myself otherwise, like I am working for the bad guy.
“I don’t see a future at this company,” by an Arab Google Worker
I feel Google focuses heavily on diversity and inclusion, but then neglects the voice of Palestinians. I’m not Palestinian, but I care about making sure we do the right thing as often as we can. Learning about the Project Nimbus deal and seeing with my own eyes how leaders in the company completely neglected Palestinians while standing in solidarity with Israelis in the region made me sad and really disappointed in this company.
This has made me question whether I want to stay at Google, and to be honest, I don’t see a future in this company because of how disappointed this has made me feel.
I’d like to think I’m someone who stands up for what I believe in and stands against injustice. Google even claims they want me to bring my whole self to work. But while I’d love to send this message without being anonymous, unfortunately Google has made it clear that there would be serious ramifications of speaking about this on the record. I know from what I have seen at Google that speaking freely with my name would have a significantly detrimental impact on my career, my life, and my family by leading me to be unfairly and incorrectly retaliated against and even accused of antisemitism, simply for defending Palestinian rights.
“Google is punishing Jews who stand up for Palestinian rights,” by a Jewish Google Worker
The Jewglers [Jewish Googlers Employee Resource Group] claims to represent and advocate for “all Jewish people at Google”. This is clearly not true, because I am Jewish, and the Jewglers’ behavior has been one of the biggest sources of my mental health struggles at work since 2018. Jewglers steering and other members have shamed, bullied, and silenced me simply because I don’t agree with Zionism. In many cases, Jewglers have even reported people, sometimes even fellow Jews, to HR for quote-un-quote “antisemitic behavior” simply because they spoke up for Palestine…
It is a grave danger for one of the world’s most powerful tech companies and the world’s largest search engine to continue to endorse false information about how antisemitism operates within our society. Google is purposely dividing the Jewish community from other protected groups, driving a wedge between the Jewish ERG and other internal communities. It is making us all less safe but it especially harms our Palestinian coworkers by creating a company culture that erases their experiences even while Google continues to claim that it’s a leader in diversity and inclusion in the industry… Not only do we disagree with Jewglers, we have been actively harmed by them. They have never been held accountable; instead they have managed to get the company to send official financial donations to pro-Israeli army organizations. The company shamelessly does this in my name as a Jewish person even though many of us Jews have asked company leadership to stop this.
If they truly cared about antisemitism, Google would actually bother to meet with their Jewish employees who have been harmed by the fact that Jewglers is company-funded and continues to shame fellow Jews for supporting Palestinians.
This would be a different conversation if we hadn’t tried so hard to write to leadership begging them to listen to us. But we have. I saw my anti-Zionist Jewish colleague receive a letter with death threats and still leadership refused to even let that person have a meeting. I saw a Palestinian colleague get called into HR for simply wearing traditional clothing in their ID picture. HR told them they were reportedly being “divisive” simply for wearing clothing that represents their culture!