Google employee quits over 'retaliation' by tech giant against 'pro-Palestine voices'
Ariel Koren, product manager at Google for Education, told colleagues she was quitting the company at the end of the week over the alleged targeting of her activism against Israeli human rights abuses.
Koren campaigned against a $1.2 billion agreement between Google and Amazon to provide artificial intelligence tools and other services to the Israeli government over the country's human rights abuses. The deal sparked internal outrage within the company, according to reports.
Koren spent a year lobbying executives and speaking to the media about the deal, in the hope Google bosses would reconsider.
She was then given three weeks' notice to relocate to Brazil or lose her job, although the branch ultimately allowed her to work remotely.
On Twitter, Koren announced she was leaving the company after seven years of employment: "I am leaving @Google this week due to retaliation & hostility against workers who speak out. Google moved my role overseas immediately after I opposed its $1B AI/surveillance contracts with Israel. And this is far from an isolated instance."
I am leaving @Google this week due to retaliation & hostility against workers who speak out. Google moved my role overseas immediately after I opposed its $1B AI/surveillance contracts with Israel. And this is far from an isolated instance.https://t.co/V4y05kOYQv pic.twitter.com/eRMrzTPYfb— Ariel Koren (@ariel_koko) August 30, 2022
While Google and the National Labor Relations Board found no wrongdoing by the company, Koren has claimed this move was retaliation for her pro-Palestine campaigning.
"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 when announcing her resignation, The New York Times reported. Google denied the claims of retaliation.
As Koren announced her resignation, 15 Google employees complained, 13 of them anonymously fearing retaliation, via videos on YouTube about the company's relations with Israel.
They also said Google was censoring pro-Palestine voices and criticised their treatment of Palestinians. One example given was that the company moderates and sometimes censors pro-Palestine comments but takes no such action for pro-Israel ones.
"Project Nimbus [the name of Google's operations for the Israeli government] makes me feel like I am making my living off my family’s oppression," one of the workers said in the video.
Another worker was accused by a colleague of anti-semitism after identifying as a Palestinian-American.
Koren, who is Jewish, also condemned Jewglers, an internal group which represents Jewish Google workers, alleging it targets and silences pro-Palestine voices such as hers.
"In practice, this group is systemically functioning as an outlet to drive forward right-wing ideologies under the guise of promoting diversity," she wrote.
Google has fired other workers over the views, including Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell who had criticised the company's artificial intelligence technology.
When approached, Google pointed The New York Times to past statements saying the company does not retaliate against employees.