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Google employees stage sit-in over Israeli government contract

The sit-in was organized by the activist group No Tech for Apartheid, a coalition of tech workers and organizations such as MPower Change and Jewish Voice for Peace.

The Google logo on one of the buildings of Googleplex, the company's main campus in Mountain View, Calif. Credit: Sundry Photography/Shutterstock.
The Google logo on one of the buildings of Googleplex, the company's main campus in Mountain View, Calif. Credit: Sundry Photography/Shutterstock.

Dozens of Google employees occupied the tech giant’s offices in New York City and Sunnyvale, California, on Tuesday to protest against “Project Nimbus,” the company’s $1.2 billion contract to provide cloud computing services to the Israeli government.

The sit-in was organized by the activist group No Tech for Apartheid, a coalition of tech workers and organizations such as MPower Change and Jewish Voice for Peace. Protesters gathered at the offices of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian in Sunnyvale and in the 10th-floor commons area in New York.

In addition to the sit-ins, outdoor demonstrations took place at Google offices in San Francisco and Seattle, with protesters demanding that Google and Amazon, which is also involved in Project Nimbus, immediately cancel their work on the contract.

The protests mark an escalation in the ongoing resistance from tech workers who object to their employers’ relationships with the Israeli government, particularly in light of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Among the protesters was Eddie Hatfield, a Google cloud software engineer who was fired days after disrupting a company-sponsored conference in March focused on the Israeli tech industry. Hatfield had confronted Google Israel’s managing director at the event.

The protesters claim that Google has been unresponsive to their concerns, with the company allegedly removing comments about Project Nimbus from internal forums. They also cite reports that the Israel Defense Forces has used Google Photos to identify and detain Palestinians en masse in Judea and Samaria.

Hasan Ibraheem, a Google software engineer participating in the New York sit-in, told WIRED, “It’s actually shocking how many people at Google don’t even know that this contract exists.” He added that many colleagues who learned about Project Nimbus through the protesters’ efforts were upset.

Zelda Montes, a YouTube software engineer also involved in the protest, claimed that attempts to raise concerns through “appropriate channels” had been shut down. Montes said the protesters hope the sit-in inspires tech workers “to demand that their labor not be used to create the conditions in which a genocide is taking place.”

The protests follow a series of actions by tech workers opposing their companies’ military and government contracts, including the 2018 protests by Google employees against “Project Maven,” a Pentagon contract involving AI-powered drone-footage analysis.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, a small group of protesters, including Ibraheem and Montes, remained outside Google’s New York office, vowing to stay until they were forced to leave or their demands were met.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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