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Google employees call for company to support Palestinians and protect anti-Zionist speech

Google employees call for company to support Palestinians and protect anti-Zionist speech

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‘Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism’

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A group of Jewish Google employees is calling on the company to increase its support of Palestinians amid Israel’s deadly bombing campaign in Gaza. The conflict started with Israel’s attempt to evict Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, and escalated when militants fired rockets toward Jerusalem and Israel responded with airstrikes.

In an internal letter, Google workers ask CEO Sundar Pichai to put out a statement condemning the attacks, including “direct recognition of the harm done to Palestinians by Israeli military and gang violence.” The letter currently has 250 signatures. (An external version of the note can be found here).

The request is coming from a new employee resource group which formed last year in response to pro-Zionist sentiment within “Jewglers” — Google’s official Jewish ERG. While Jewglers has tried to be apolitical, two current workers say it has supported pro-Israel discussions and is not a safe space to express anti-Zionist beliefs.

This rift led to the formation of the Jewish Diaspora in Tech — a group of Jewish anti-nationalists within Google. “We were compelled to form our own space because of the fact that we were quite literally not allowed to express our viewpoints in the ERG,” says a product marketing manager in the group.

Now, members of the new organization are calling on Google to support freedom of expression internally — particularly around anti-Zionist viewpoints. “Google is the world’s largest search engine and any repression of freedom of expression occurring within the company is a danger not only to Googlers internally but to all people around the world,” they wrote in an FAQ.

They also want Google to terminate any business contracts which support “Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, such as the Israeli Defense Forces.”

Members of the group say they were inspired to write the letter after Jewglers failed to put out a statement condemning the violence against Palestinians. One worker told The Verge that people in the group were promoting pro-Israel funding opportunities.

Read the entire letter below:

Dear Sundar and Google Executive Team:

We are a coalition of diverse Jewish and allied Googlers concerned about the internal dialogue around the political and racial violence in Israel and Palestine. We as Jews do not endorse the views of those who have written to you seeking to garner support for exclusively pro-Israel and pro-Zionist actions.

We object to the conflation of Israel with the Jewish people, affirm that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism, and implore leadership to take the following actions:

  1. Heed the requests of Palestinian Googlers: Palestinians are overwhelmingly affected by the militarized colonial violence ocurring in the region. Please heed the requests framed by Palestinian Googlers and center their voices going forward.
  2. Fund relief for Palestinians affected by military violence: We ask Google to fund Palestinian rights organizations and ensure that any support for Israeli humanitarian efforts be matched by support to Palestinian-led human rights and relief efforts.
  3. Recognize the pain: We ask Google leadership to make a company-wide statement recognizing the violence in Palestine and Israel, which must include direct recognition of the harm done to Palestinians by Israeli military and gang violence. Both Israelis and Palestinians are hurting right now, but ignoring the destructive and deadly attacks faced by Palestinians erases our Palestinian coworkers.
  4. Protect freedom of speech: We ask Google leadership to reject any definition of antisemitism that holds that criticism of Israel or Zionism is antisemitic. Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism and this conflation harms the pursuit of justice for Palestinians and Jews alike by limiting freedom of expression and distracting from real acts of antisemitism.
  5. Affirm Google’s commitment to human rights: Many of Israel’s actions violate the UN human rights principles, which Google is committed to upholding. We request the review of all Alphabet business contracts and corporate donations and the termination of contracts with institutions that support Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, such as the Israeli Defense Forces.

Please sign your name here if you would like to support this message.

Signed by concerned Jewish Googlers and allies

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.

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