Google worker who protested $1bn contract with Israeli military quits
Ariel Koren accuses Google in a letter of systematically silencing voices concerned about the violations of Palestinian rights.
A Google employee who has been a prominent critic of the company's billion-dollar relationship with the Israeli military announced her resignation on Tuesday, accusing the internet giant of trying to retaliate against her for her advocacy.
A marketing manager for Google's educational products, Ariel Koren, published a memo on Medium to colleagues announcing her plan to quit.
"Due to retaliation, a hostile environment, and illegal actions by the company, I cannot continue to work at Google and have no choice but to leave the company at the end of this week," she said in her letter.
"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."
The Los Angeles Times reported in March that her employer advised her to transfer to Brazil or leave her job after she helped create a letter among Google and Amazon employees claiming Project Nimbus would enhance surveillance of Palestinians and aid in the expansion of Israeli settlements.
A Google spokeswoman claimed in a statement reported by the New York Times that "we prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy."
“We thoroughly investigated this employee’s claim, as we do when any concerns are raised,” she added.
The spokesperson added that the company is proud to have been "selected by the Israeli government to provide public cloud services to help digitally transform the country".
'Living off my family's oppression'
Fifteen more Google employees gave testimony on YouTube on Tuesday and spoke with the New York Times, denouncing the company's treatment of Palestinians and suppression of employees who support them. For fear of retaliation, all but two of the workers chose to remain unidentified.
"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 wrote in her letter.
One of the workers said that "Project Nimbus makes me feel like I am making my living off my family’s oppression."
Some employees reported being disciplined when coworkers accused them of antisemitism for shouting, "Support Palestine." Another employee said a coworker accused them of antisemitism because they identified as "Palestinian-American".