Google Fires 28 Employees Over Protests Against $1.2 Billion Israel Project

Google fires 28 employees who protested its $1.2B contract with Israel, sparking debate over tech companies' ethical obligations and employee activism.

Emmanuel Abara Benson
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Google Fires 28 Employees Over Protests Against $1.2 Billion Israel Project

Google Fires 28 Employees Over Protests Against $1.2 Billion Israel Project

Google has terminated 28 employees who participated in protests against the company's $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government, known as Project Nimbus. The contract, a collaboration between Google, Amazon, and Israel, involves providing cloud computing and artificial intelligence services to the Israeli government and military.

The protests were organized by a group called "No Tech for Apartheid," which has been campaigning against Project Nimbus since 2021. The group staged sit-in demonstrations at Google offices in New York City, Sunnyvale, California, and Seattle, leading to the arrest of nine employees. "Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel's genocide of Palestinians in Gaza," protest organizers wrote.

Google claimed that the protesters "took over office spaces, defaced our property, and physically impeded the work of other Googlers," which was "unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made co-workers feel threatened." The company stated that the terminated employees were "personally and definitively involved in disruptive activity inside our buildings."

Why this matters: The firings represent a significant shift in Google's approach to employee activism and government contracts. The incident highlights the growing tensions between tech companies' business dealings and their employees' ethical concerns, particularly in relation to military contracts and human rights issues.

The "No Tech for Apartheid" group condemned the terminations as "a flagrant act of retaliation" and a violation of workers' rights to peacefully protest. They accused Google of valuing the lucrative contract more than its own workers. Google CEO Sundar Pichai warned employees against disrupting the company or using it as a "personal platform," emphasizing that Google is a business focused on improving its AI technology.

This is not the first time Google employees have protested the company's government contracts. In 2018, employee pressure led Google to abandon Project Maven, a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to analyze drone imagery. Despite the internal opposition, Google's cloud computing division has seen significant growth, generating $33 billion in revenue last year.

Google maintains that the Project Nimbus contract is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services. However, the "No Tech for Apartheid" group vows to continue organizing until Google abandons the contract, which they believe supports the development of military tools by the Israeli government.

Key Takeaways

  • Google fired 28 employees who protested $1.2B contract with Israel
  • Protesters accused Google of supporting Israel's "genocide of Palestinians"
  • Google claimed protesters disrupted work and made co-workers feel threatened
  • Firings highlight tensions between tech firms' contracts and employee ethics
  • Google maintains contract is not for military/intelligence work, but protesters vow to continue organizing