Google Terminates Employee Who Protested at Israel Tech Event Based On Rising Internal Dissent

During a speech given in New York on Monday by the managing director of Google’s Israel branch, a protester from the company’s cloud division publicly objected, stating “I refuse to build technology that powers genocide.”

According to sources, the Google Cloud engineer was let go, marking another troubling moment for the company, which has faced numerous political and cultural conflicts in recent years and has struggled to handle employee dissent.

This week, there was further controversy within the company, this time related to the crisis in Gaza. Before an International Women’s Day event in Silicon Valley on Thursday, Google’s employee forum saw a surge of comments from staff regarding the company’s military contracts with Israel.

Google fires employee after a pro Palestine protest at the event
Employee’s outcry sparks controversy, leading to termination amid escalating tensions. (Credits: @notechforapartheid/Instagram)

The online discussion, which was supposed to help determine which questions were asked of executives at the event, was shut down due to what a spokesperson described as “divisive content that is disruptive to our workplace.”

Google’s involvement in providing technology to the US and foreign militaries has caused concern among employees since at least 2018 when workers protested against a Defense Department contract known as Project Maven.

This was followed by outrage over Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion agreement for artificial intelligence and computing services between Google, Amazon Web Services, and the Israeli government and military that began in 2021.

This anger has extended to a variety of other issues, often putting CEO Sundar Pichai on the defensive when confronted by employees at company events. The recent escalation of the conflict in the Middle East has only heightened tensions at Google.

In October, Hamas launched multiple deadly attacks on Israel, leading to a military response that has resulted in the deaths of at least 30,000 Palestinians and left many more injured and facing starvation, according to the Palestinian enclave’s Health Ministry.

According to an analyst, pressure must be placed on both Israel and Hamas to reach a cease-fire. In the past few weeks, over 600 Google employees signed a letter to company leadership requesting that the company withdraw its sponsorship of the annual Mind the Tech conference, which promotes the Israeli tech industry.

The event on Monday in New York featured a speech from Barak Regev, the managing director of Google Israel. A video of the employee protesting during the speech went viral. “No cloud for apartheid,” the employee shouted. The crowd reacted with boos as security escorted him out of the building.

Regev then told the audience, “Part of the privilege of working in a company, which represents democratic values is giving the stage for different opinions.” In an email to CNBC on Thursday, a Google spokesperson stated that the employee was fired for “interfering with an official company-sponsored event.”

Google fires employee after a pro Palestine protest at the event
Dissent over tech contracts with Israel amplifies, prompting forum shutdown and employee termination. (Credits: @notechforapartheid/Instagram)

The spokesperson did not specify which policies were violated but stated that such behavior is unacceptable, regardless of the issue.

The recent conflict between Hamas and Israel has put increased pressure on U.S. companies, including Google, who are facing criticism for their actions. For instance, Starbucks is being sued by Workers United for a pro-Palestinian message posted on a union social media account.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s is facing a boycott after providing free meals to Israeli soldiers. Google, in preparation for their International Women’s Day summit, received questions from employees about the impact of their contract with the Israeli military and their AI chatbot, Gemini, on Palestinian women.

The questions raised in the internal discussion forum Dory received a significant amount of support from employees, with some asking about Gemini’s bias and others questioning how the company plans to recognize Mai Ubeid, a young woman and former Google software engineer who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

The forum was shut down by Google due to the increasing number of comments.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x