Nearly 400 Google and Amazon workers have demanded that their employers cut ties with Project Nimbus, an Israeli government-backed initiative to establish secure local cloud computing sites across the country.
In an open letter published in the British newspaper The Guardian, 90 Google and 300 Amazon employees, writing anonymously, condemned the cloud computing giants’ decision to “sell dangerous technology to the Israeli military and government.”
“We condemn Amazon and Google’s decision to sign the Project Nimbus contract with the Israeli military and government, and ask them to reject this contract and future contracts that will harm our users,” the employees wrote.
Alleging that the deal to provide cloud services for Israel’s public sector and military “will make the systematic discrimination and displacement carried out by the Israeli military and government even crueler and deadlier for Palestinians,” the employees said the technology involved would allow “for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land.”
“We cannot look the other way, as the products we build are used to deny Palestinians their basic rights, force Palestinians out of their homes and attack Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – actions that have prompted war crime investigations by the international criminal court,” they wrote.
They noted that the deal had been signed “the same week that the Israeli military attacked Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – killing nearly 250 people, including more than 60 children.”
They were referring to the 11-day conflict in May, when the Israel Defense Forces staged airstrikes as more than 4,300 rockets were launched by Palestinian militants, following weeks of escalating violence between Israeli Arabs and Jews.
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Project Nimbus calls for Amazon and Google to develop cloud-storage sites across Israel at an initial investment of 4 billion shekels ($1.2 billion). The sites will enable Israel to keep data within its borders under strict security guidelines.
According to the Finance Ministry, the multi-year project is designed to provide a comprehensive solution for the provision of cloud services to the public sector and the army.
Tuesday’s letter follows another by a group of 250 “diverse Jewish and allied Googlers,” published during the May fighting. In it, the authors urged “a review of all Alphabet business contracts and corporate donations and the termination of contracts with institutions that support Israeli violations of Palestinian rights,” including the Israeli military. Alphabet is Google’s parent company.
A Google employee in Israel who requested to stay anonymous told Haaretz at the time that local Googlers thought the letter was “laughable, if not ridiculous. We live and work here, and we don’t want or need senior management to get involved. Why do these people in America, who aren’t being threatened by rockets, feel so affected by what’s happening here that they need to intervene?” he said.
In June, Google removed its corporate diversity chief from his role after derogatory comments he made about Jews came to light, leading Jewish organizations to call for his termination.
In a 2007 post on his personal blog entitled “If I Were a Jew,” Kamau Bobb, the company’s global lead for diversity strategy, wrote that if he were Jewish, he would be concerned about his “insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself.”
The following month, a senior executive in its cloud computing division left the company after a lengthy LinkedIn post describing his views on Jews, Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict surfaced.
In his manifesto, which was just over 10,000 words long, Amr Awadallah, at the time Google Cloud’s vice president for developer relations, wrote that Palestinians should refrain from violence and Diaspora Jews should "butt out,” because they “are making things worse.”
He also called for the establishment of a “United States of Jerusalem” comprised of “not just two states, but multiple states, some Israeli Jewish, some Palestinian, some hybrid, some atheist/agnostic or polyamory LGBTQ+, with local jurisdictional differences.”