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Google employees demand that the company not supply Israel with money and technology


Alina Prikhodko

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More than 600 Google employees are asking to withdraw their sponsorship of Mind the Tech, a conference in New York that promotes Israeli technology companies. According to Wired, employees are opposed to their work being used to spy on and commit genocide against the Palestinian people.

More than 600 Google employees signed a letter to the company's marketing leadership. They demanded to withdraw sponsorship Mind the Tech – an annual conference to promote the Israeli technology industry, which takes place in New York.

“Please withdraw from Mind the Tech, apologize, and support Google employees and customers who are distraught over the sheer number of casualties in Gaza. We need Google to do better,” the letter says.

The two-day event began on Monday, March 4, with a series of industry lectures, and concluded on Tuesday evening with a gala. Its purpose is to highlight the resilience of the Israeli tech industry, especially amid Israel's economic downturn following the October 7 Hamas attacks. About 1200 Israelis died due to this attack; As a result of Israel's retaliatory military campaign in Gaza, as of March 4, 30 Palestinians have been killed.

Incident during a performance

On Monday, a conference speech by Barak Regev, managing director of Google Israel, was interrupted by a Google Cloud software engineer who shouted that his work should not be used for surveillance and genocide. He was joined by an organizer from the anti-Zionist Israeli groups Shoresh and Jewish Voices for Peace.

On the subject: To survive despite threats: how New Yorkers with Israeli and Palestinian roots feel now

“I don’t see any way to continue my work without doing this,” the engineer later said. – I consider this part of my job. I hope that other engineers at Cloud will see how I do this, and I think it will inspire them.”

Both activists were kicked out of the event. New York Mayor Eric Adams, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lev and former NSA Director Michael Rogers spoke at the conference on Monday.

Zelda Montes, a YouTube software engineer who protested outside the conference on Monday, said worker solidarity is especially important in the context of “Israeli artificial intelligence technology being used to track and genocide the Palestinian people.”

“As our 'leadership' continues to fail us, I hope that we at Google can feel empowered to turn to each other and ask ourselves what more we can do to collectively stand up to oppressive technology,” she said. she is in front of the crowd.

Collective letter

The letter opposing Google's participation in Mind the Tech first appeared within Google on February 29. It was sponsored by several organizers of the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, which calls for an end to Project Nimbus, the Israeli government's $1,2 billion cloud computing contract with Google and Amazon announced in 2021, and any other dubious contracts.

No Tech for Apartheid argues that the terms of the Nimbus contract could allow US companies' cloud technologies, including artificial intelligence tools, to be used for military purposes. Project Nimbus tools can be used for surveillance, an integral aspect of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The letter, calling on Google to stop working with Mind the Tech, was distributed through internal mailing lists dedicated to discussing the company's contracts (which some employees consider unethical), as well as through several mailing lists for Muslim, Arab and anti-Zionist Google employees. The letter was signed by full-time Google employees, as well as temporary workers, suppliers and contractors.

The letter highlights the Israeli government's massive bombing campaign in Gaza, which began following the Hamas attacks in October, and mentions recent decision International Court of Justice, which ruled that some Israeli actions “may fall within the provisions of the Genocide Convention.”

The letter, among other things, points to the humanitarian crisis occurring in the Gaza Strip, caused by bombing and the destruction of housing and hospitals, as well as Israeli government restrictions on aid supplies to the territory, which leads to widespread death and injury.

Mohammad Khatami, a Google software engineer who signed the letter, said tech workers' top priority should be how their work impacts not only users, but people on the ground. “Palestinians, many of whom are literally Google users, are endangered by the technology we produce,” he said.

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