Google employee who called Israel apartheid state quits, insisting she was 'discriminated against'

A Google marketing manager has quit her job after accusing the company of discriminating against employees opposed to the deal


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 26: A sign is posted in front of a Google office on April 26, 2022 in San Francisco, California. Google parent company Alphabet will report first quarter earnings today after the closing bell. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A Google marketing manager has promised to quit her job in lengthy tirade against the company, accusing it of "discriminating" against employees who called Israel an "apartheid state"

Ariel Koren, who is Jewish, said she made the “difficult decision” after voicing opposition to the firm's $1.2 billion “Project Nimbus” contract with Amazon to provide artificial intelligence tech to the Israeli government. 

“The project is intended to provide the government, the defence establishment, and others with an all-encompassing cloud solution,” Israel’s ministry of defense said in a statement last year.

But Ms Koren, 28, took exception to the billion-dollar deal, publicly denouncing Google for working with the "apartheid state of Israel." She also accused the company of discriminating against "anti-Zionist Jews."

Last October, Ms Koren spearheaded efforts to draft a letter backed by workers at both Google and Amazon, urging the firms to scrap Project Nimbus on the basis that it would risk facilitating human rights abuses. 

In November 2021, Ms Koren, who markets educational products to Latin America and is based in San Francisco, had what she believed was a routine call with her manager who informed her that she must relocate to their São Paulo office within 17 days or face the sack.

Ms Koren said the proposed move was unjustified, and that a supervisor working for the firm’s Brazilian office said their employees were working remotely due to the pandemic.

However, an investigation of her complaint regarding the proposed move, by both Google and the National Labor Relations Board, concluded that no wrongdoing had transpired.  

Ms. Koren continued her opposition to the Project Nimbus deal and remained working at the Silicon Valley HQ of the tech giant. Colleagues of Koren also started a petition against what they termed retaliation against her as well as lobbying the local congresswoman.

“Instead of addressing the urgent issues of discrimination at our company, HR was issuing warnings to Googlers just for speaking out about Palestinian rights,” Ms Koren claimed in a blog post on Medium this week.

“Google has consistently sustained a culture of silencing anti-Zionist Jews, and creating toxic and unjust conditions for Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim workers at Google, all while ignoring the widespread internal and public dissent against the company’s complicity in Israel’s apartheid violence via Project Nimbus,” she went on.

She shared this memo to colleagues in which she outlined her displeasure with the firm, and said she planned to leave her role on Friday.

Ms Koren also drew parallels between Google’s contract with Israel to firms who historically refused to boycott apartheid South Africa, writing: “I am asking my fellow Googlers: Think about what you would have done if you were a worker for Polaroid in 1970 when the company was complicit in South African apartheid. 

“Stay quiet, or take action like the Polaroid workers who took a stand to end the company’s involvement in South Africa?”

On 8 September, Google workers are set to take part in a #NoTechForApartheid protests outside of the tech giant's Bay Area, New York City, and Seattle offices.

A Google spokesperson told the JC: “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, and as we've stated for many months, our investigation found there was no retaliation here. A government agency also dismissed this case when the employee filed a claim alleging she experienced retaliation. 

“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 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.” 

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