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Google employee opposed to contract with Israel resigns, citing retaliation and suppression of pro-Palestinian worker climate

A Google employee who has accused the company of doing business with the Israeli military said Tuesday she plans to resign after facing retaliation from the tech giant.

Ariel Koren worked at Google for 7 years, most recently as product marketing manager for Google for Education, and last year was a leader in pushing the company to drop a $1.2 billion contract with Amazon that it held for the following Users provide cloud computing services. Government of Israel. Koren said that shortly after expressing her concerns, she was told her character would be moving to another location – Sao Paulo, Brazil, and that she had 17 days to relocate or lose her job. In the end, she didn’t have to move because another location allowed her to work remotely.

A Google spokesperson told Fortune that the company prohibits retaliation in the workplace. The National Labor Relations Board investigated and dismissed the case. The spokesman said: “We have thoroughly investigated this employee’s claim, as we have done when we raised any concerns, and as we have said for months, our investigation has found no Acts of retaliation.” Google’s partnership with the Israeli government, called Project Nimbus, was announced last April and went into effect a few months later. It’s unclear what the technology will be used for, although slides of training material released by The Intercept say it could help Israel deploy facial detection technology and sentiment analysis that may be able to determine “the emotional content of pictures, speech and writing. ” Koren’s departure is just the latest of Googlers who say they’ve either been sidelined or fired for speaking out on a variety of topics in recent years. Timnit Gerbu, the head of Google’s AI ethics team, left after raising questions about bias. Soon after, her colleague Margaret Mitchell was fired for violating Google’s code of conduct, according to the company. She was hired to co-lead its Ethical AI division with Gerbu. Also, last month, Google fired an engineer, Blake Lemoine, for claiming that Google AI chatbots had achieved “sense,” or human-like perception. In an online letter posted Tuesday, Keren, who is Jewish, also complained about what she said was Google’s treatment of pro-Palestinian employees within the company. She said Google did this to protect its commercial interests with the Israeli government and military. “Google has systematically suppressed Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, and Muslim concerns about Google’s involvement in Palestinian human rights violations—so much so that it formally retaliates against workers and creates an environment of fear,” Keren wrote. In her letter, Koren pointed to an internal group called Jewglers that was supposed to support and represent all Jewish workers at Google. Instead, she said it was used to target pro-Palestinian workers like her who complained to members of Google’s human resources, diversity and inclusion department. “In practice, this group systematically serves as an outlet for the promotion of right-wing ideology under the guise of promoting diversity,” Curran wrote. A frustrated Coren said she and a few others had created an independent group “not subject to the scrutiny of Jewglers.” In one instance, after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza killed hundreds of Palestinians, Keren said, Jewglers asked Google to show support for the Israelis. Company executives, including CEO Sundar Pichai, eventually did, she said. In response, her breakaway group sent Pichai and the company a letter about pro-Israel bias in the Jewglers group, but they received no response. They sent another email saying: “We believe Jewish leaders are using their platforms and leadership positions to support an agenda that many Jews oppose, while claiming to represent us all.” In some cases, pro-Palestinian of employees receive a warning from HR for what they said in an online group. She added that members of Google’s Muslim and Arab groups were also being monitored by members of the Jewglers group and received offensive messages. Koren noted that Google employees were invited to take a virtual tour of Hebron, an Israeli settlement in occupied Palestine. A Jewish worker responded, asking if the tour would include a conversation on “the ongoing war crimes committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.” Her reply was flagged as discrimination, harassment and bullying, which Keren said was actually a “simple” message in support of Palestinian human rights.

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