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Google Terminates Employees Over Protests Against Israeli Military Contract

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Tensions have escalated at Google as the tech giant dismissed 28 employees who participated in disruptive protests against the company’s involvement with the Israeli military. The dismissals followed a series of sit-ins staged at Google’s offices in New York and Silicon Valley, where nine protesters were even arrested for refusing to leave the premises.

At the heart of the controversy lies Project Nimbus, a cloud computing and artificial intelligence software contract reportedly worth up to $1.2 billion that Google has signed with the Israeli government. This lucrative deal has drawn sharp criticism from a group of employees and activists who allege that Google is enabling human rights violations and contributing to the oppression of Palestinians.

The protests, organized by the campaign group No Tech For Apartheid, saw dozens of Google staff donning shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Googler against genocide” and unfurling banners inside the office of Thomas Kurian, the head of Google’s cloud computing division. Chants such as “no more genocide for profit” and “no cloud for apartheid” echoed through the company’s corridors as the demonstrators occupied Kurian’s office.

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In a defiant response, Google swiftly placed the protesting employees under investigation, revoked their access to IT systems, and ultimately terminated 28 of them. Chris Rackow, Google’s head of security, condemned the behavior as “unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made co-workers feel threatened,” asserting that the company takes such conduct “extremely seriously” and will continue to apply its policies, including termination, for disruptive actions.

One of the fired employees, Kate J Sim, took to Twitter, accusing Google of “McCarthyism” and expressing concern over the company’s apparent prioritization of its $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government and military over its own workers’ rights.

The No Tech For Apartheid group, in turn, decried Google’s actions as “a clear indication that Google values its $1.2bn contract with the genocidal Israeli government and military more than its own workers.”

This incident is not the first time Google has faced internal backlash over its military contracts. Last month, the company dismissed engineer Eddie Hatfield after he disrupted a speech by Google’s head of Israel, protesting the company’s involvement in what he termed “technology that powers genocide.”

As the debate over tech companies’ ethical responsibilities rages on, Google maintains that its work with the Israeli government involves “generally available cloud computing services” and is not directed at sensitive military or intelligence operations related to weapons or warfare.

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