Google Quickly Fires 28 Employees Who Protested Dealings With Israel

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Apr 18, 2024 - 03:55 PM

Dozens of Google employees just learned they can't treat corporate offices like a college campus. On Wednesday, the Alphabet subsidiary rushed to fire 28 employees who were part of Tuesday sit-in protests against the company's provision of artificial intelligence and cloud services to the State of Israel.  

The protests were organized by a group called No Tech for Apartheid, which had declared Tuesday a "day of action" at Google. At issue: Google's Project Nimbus -- a $1.2 billion cloud and AI contract with Israel -- and the Israeli Defense Forces' use of Google Photos in Gaza, "which has led to the arrest, imprisonment, and torture of thousands of Palestinians with little to no evidence," the group said. "It’s clear that the Israeli military will use any technology available to them for genocidal means." 

Last week, Israel's +972 Magazine, citing Israeli intelligence officers, reported on the Israeli Defense Forces' expansive use of AI in its war on Gaza in a system called Lavender. “Human personnel often served only as a ‘rubber stamp’ for the machine’s decisions,” one source said, typically spending only 20 seconds reviewing AI-selected targets "just to make sure the Lavender-marked target is male." The intel sources said that, particularly during the early days, the majority of the resulting dead were "women and children or people who were not involved in the fighting." 

Tuesday's protests were staged in Google's Sunnyvale, California, Seattle and New York City offices. They including livestreamed sit-ins lasting about 10 hours. The protesters weren't just hanging around in hallways or lobbies: In Sunnyvale, they took over the personal office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, and wrote a list of demands on his whiteboard. Police were eventually called, and nine employees were arrested for trespassing. 

Masked Google employees demanded the company terminate its $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government 

In a statement, Google laid out its rationale for bringing the hammer down:  

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.

We have so far concluded individual investigations that resulted in the termination of employment for 28 employees, and will continue to investigate and take action as needed.”

No Tech for Apartheid condemned the terminations. “This flagrant act of retaliation is a clear indication that Google values its $1.2 billion contract with the genocidal Israeli government and military more than its own workers—the ones who create real value for executives and shareholders,” the group said in a statement. 

Last month, Google axed this engineer who interrupted a speech being delivered by an Israeli-based Google executive at a tech conference in New York City: 

While labor laws generally give a green light to employee strikes and other disruptive actions aimed at things like wages and work conditions, protesting an employer's choice of customer is something else altogether. However, talking to Bloomberg, San Francisco University labor professor John Logan attempted a tortured argument on the Google protesters' behalf. 

“Tech workers are not like other kinds of workers,” he said. “You can make an argument in this case that having some sort of say or control or ability to protest about how their work product is being used is actually a sort of key issue.”

Google begs to differ, and on Wednesday offered a warning to its remaining employees: "The overwhelming majority of our employees do the right thing. If you’re one of the few who are tempted to think we’re going to overlook conduct that violates our policies, think again."