Online uproar after Google employee forced to resign after accusing company of silencing Palestinians
LONDON: A Google employee was reportedly forced to resign after accusing the company of trying to silence Palestinian employees.
Ariel Koren, a marketing manager for Google’s educational products arm, announced her resignation on Twitter after seven years of working for the tech giant.
She published a memo on the blogging platform Medium claiming that the company tried to retaliate against her for her activism and support of Palestinian colleagues.
“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.”
Supporters of Koren took to social media to express their uproar and criticize the tech giant.
The dispute emerged when Koren, along with other coworkers, objected to Google’s $1.2 billion agreement with Amazon and the Israeli military on a program dubbed “Project Nimbus.”
As part of the program, the two tech giants will supply Israel and its military with artificial intelligence tools and other computing services and technologies, which Koren argues will be used to monitor and harm Palestinians.
After months of protest to convince Google to pull out of the deal — including internal petitions, lobbying executives, and public interviews with newspapers and TV programs — Koren received an ultimatum from the company telling her to move to Sao Paulo, Brazil, or lose her job.
Koren, who decided to file a complaint with the company and the National Labor Relations Board, accused Google of trying to transfer her because of her actions, but the inquiry found no evidence of misconduct.
“We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy,” Google said in a statement. “We thoroughly investigated this employee’s claim, as we do when any concerns are raised.”
On Tuesday, 15 more Google employees anonymously shared their experiences criticizing the company’s treatment of Palestinians and employees who advocate for the cause, accusing the firm of unfairly enforcing its content moderation rules and creating a double standard.
A group of six Palestinians, who requested not to be identified, said through their colleagues that they did not feel safe expressing their opinions at the company.
“I have consistently witnessed that instead of supporting diverse employees looking to make Google a more ethical company, 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 said in her post.
“In my experience, silencing dialogue and dissent in this way has helped Google protect its business interests with the Israeli military and government,” she added.