Ariel Koren is – or was, for she has just resigned — an employee of Google. She’s a left-wing Jewish “activist” and ardent BDSer who wants Google to cancel its contract to provide services to the Israeli military. Now she is noisily resigning from the company, having concluded that it will not give in to her demands, and that it has “retaliated” against her by planning to transfer her to Google’s office in São Paulo, Brazil. A report on her angry departure is here: “Jewish Google employee quits citing retaliation over BDS efforts,” by Michael Starr, Jerusalem Post, August 31, 2022:
Ariel Koren, a Jewish Google employee, who led a campaign against an Amazon-Google Israeli infrastructure project, announced she was quitting in a letter to colleagues on Tuesday, citing the company’s retaliation against her activism and a work environment hostile to her political beliefs.
“Due to retaliation, a hostile environment, and illegal actions by the company, I cannot continue to work at Google and have no choice but to leave the company at the end of this week,” Koren wrote.
“Instead of listening to employees who want Google to live up to its ethical principles, Google is aggressively pursuing military contracts and stripping away the voices of its employees through a pattern of silencing and retaliation towards me and many others.”
Koren is dripping with the assurance of her own moral superiority. Those at Google who don’t agree with her anti-Israel views are violating the “ethical principles” that Google itself affirms. But Google begs to differ. It does not see Israel’s military as evil, as Koren clearly does. It sees Israel as, among other things, a close military ally of the United States, even perhaps the most valuable of American allies. Google’s executives do not find anything wrong pursuing military contracts with the IDF, as they would, for example, with contracts made with China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea. Defense makes up a large part of the world’s business, and Google would be foolish to forgo such business to please the shrill likes of Ariel Koren. And despite her claim, Koren was not being silenced. She was not fired. She was not demoted. She was simply transferred to a Google office abroad where she will be less able to cause mischief to the company’s business relationship with Israel.
If Koren thinks that there is a “pattern of silencing and retaliation” against her “and many others,” she should provide the evidence. It seems that she has not been silenced at all; merely, an attempt has been made to move her personal megaphone from Mountain View to São Paulo. She offers no other examples of those she claims have been victims of “a pattern of silencing and retaliation.” Why not? Could it be because she has made up this accusation and has no such examples?
Koren is one of the leaders of the activist group Jewish Diaspora in Tech, which has been a major component of the Jewish Voice for Peace and MPower Change campaign #NoTechForApartheid against the $1.2 billion dollar Nimbus cloud computing project. On Tuesday[August 30], she repeated allegations made in March that Google had relocated her position from the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, to its office in Sao Paulo, Brazil as a punishment for opposition to the deal.
Koren claims that her transfer to São Paulo was punishment for her demand that Google cancel its participation in Israel’s Project Nimbus project. But why didn’t Google just fire her, as it had every right to do, for having attempted to interfere with Google’s business decisions? There may have been a perfectly good business reason for her transfer: to get her out of the way, far from Mountain View headquarters to São Paulo, where she could cause less trouble for Google’s work on the Nimbus Project with Israel.
Koren blasted Google for continuing with the project, which would provide infrastructure to several government bodies, including the Israeli military. Coinciding with Koren’s resignation, a series of protests were announced for September 8 in front of Google and Amazon offices in San Francisco, New York City and Seattle.
What is the #NoTechForApartheid campaign?
Previous #NoTechForApartied activist endeavors had failed to push Google to adopt Koren’s preferred policies. On June 1, an Alphabet stockholders meeting proposal put forward by Jewish Diaspora for Tech activist Gabriel Schubiner to reassess involvement in Nimbus failed — 544,653,039 votes against and 55,301,799 for the proposal after the board of directors recommended to vote against it. Since a petition had started in October, 800 Google and Amazon employees and 37,500 others were said to have signed the petition to end Nimbus — but as Koren noted the tech giants have entirely ignored the campaign.
800 employees of Google and Amazon signed a petition to end Google’s Nimbus Project with Israel. For those who might be impressed with such a number, remember that Google has 135,000 employees, and Amazon has 1,608,000. 800 employees are fewer than 1/20 of 1% of the total number who work for Google and Amazon.
Koren asserted that the internal Jewish Google group “Jewglers” had created a toxic work environment by silencing anti-Israel content within the community’s internal platforms.
How did the “Jewglers” manage to upset them so? Was it because they dared to answer back on company forums the critics of Israel, like Koren, who regard the Jewish state with deep antipathy? Koren and her fellow travelers can dish it out, but they can’t take it. They feel that those Google employees who defend the Jewish state against its detractors create a “toxic work environment.” Oh dear. How frightening.
Further, she accused Jewglers and Google of “weaponizing” diversity to silence Palestinians, Muslims as well as supporters of Palestinians. Koren cited an apology from Google to Jewglers over its concern over a donation to Movement for Black Lives, which had posted anti-Israel content.
The Movement for Black Lives did not merely post “anti-Israel content,” but criticism of the Jewish state so extreme that it can rightly be called antisemitic. It accused Israel of committing “genocide” against the Palestinians. Those employees of Google who protested their company’s donation to a group that disseminates such antisemitic attacks were well within their rights.
According to The Forward, Jewglers was also concerned about the lack of commitment to fighting antisemitism, and when Google agreed to donate to counter-antisemitism NGOs, Koren and her small faction of about 28 anti-Zionist Jews opposed the charity.
Apparently Koren is greatly exercised that Google donated to NGOs that counter antisemitism; presumably she does not believe that antisemitism is again a major problem world-wide, or more likely, simply doesn’t give a damn. All of her efforts are focused on pushing the Palestinian narrative against the Jewish state. Another “ethical Jew for Palestine.” Like Ben. Like Jerry. Like Peter Beinart.
Jewglers were alleged by Koren to having had complained to human resources about Palestinian and Arab Googlers critical of Israel.
“Alleged” is not proof. But if there had been complaints, they would not have been merely about “criticism of Israel.” Isn’t it far more likely that Jewish employees had complained about an extreme form of criticism of Israel that met the IHRA definition of antisemitism? We need to know what precisely was in those posts by Palestinian and Arab Googlers. If, for example, they praised terrorist murders, or called for the replacement of Israel by a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea” or claimed Israel was committing “genocide” against the Palestinians, wouldn’t complaints be perfectly in order?
“Working at Google was always my dream job, until I learned about Project Nimbus,” said an anonymous Palestinian Google employee in one of about a dozen testimonies collected by Jewish Diaspora for Tech. “I always thought that when I worked at Google, I’d be quick to answer when people asked me where I work. But now that I work here, I try my best to avoid mentioning Google.”
If this Palestinian is so ashamed of working for Google, why not quit? What is it, exactly, that so disturbs him? Is it that criticism of Israel that amounts to antisemitism is not deemed acceptable by the company? Does he want the freedom to express antisemitic remarks, and is “ashamed” of Google for attempting to prevent it?
“I shared an internal fundraiser in a Google-wide Forum. I was told that the phrase “Support Palestine” was offensive,” claimed another employee.
We have a right to be skeptical about this claim. Who would have “told” the employee that the anodyne phrase “Support Palestine” was offensive? Was it a fellow employee, simply expressing an opinion, which is perfectly legitimate, or higher-ups at Google who might be obliquely hinting that such views, no matter how mild, must not be expressed on a Google-wide Forum or there could be retaliation? I doubt that “Support Palestine” without more would be objected to by the most ardent supporter of Israel. Were there perhaps other remarks included in the same post, praising Palestinian terrorists, or accusing Israel of genocide?
Koren said that they had written to executives about Jewgler’s ostensible bias, but had been ignored.
For Koren, “bias” is what others show when they dare to support Israel. Her deep antipathy to the Jewish state is not “bias,” but a hypertrophied and thoroughly admirable sense of justice, prompted by her superior ethics.
“Anti-Zionist Jews at Google will not stop speaking out against Israel’s injustices against Palestinians,” said Koren.
Denounce Israel all you want, Ariel Koren, for what you call its “injustices against Palestinians.” The Israelis will survive very well without your support. But please, no vagueness: offer a point-by-point criticism, so that the Jewish state will be able to provide a detailed response to each of your charges. Only now you won’t be waging a propaganda war against Israel on Google’s time and dime. And you won’t be able to interfere with Google’s business relationship with Israel. That will continue, undisturbed and unperturbed by the hysterical likes of Ariel Koren.