A marketing manager at Google protested cooperation with Israel claims harassment and resigned

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by Ifi Reporter Category:Politics Aug 31, 2022

Ariel Koren, a marketing manager at Google who was one of the leaders of the protest against "Nimbus", the company's agreement with Israel, has announced that she is resigning from the company. According to her, Google tried to harass her following her activism. Koren, a 28-year-old American of Jewish origin, feared that the technology that Google would provide to Israel would harm the Palestinians.
Koren worked in the field of educational products at Google for seven years. For more than a year, she organized the protest against Nimbos, a $1.2 billion contract under which Google and Amazon will provide Israel with various artificial intelligence and computing tools. The contract takes effect in July 2021 for seven years. Among other things, Koren distributed petitions, tried to convince senior officials, and was interviewed by the media to put pressure on Google.
According to Google, as part of the agreement with Israel, public cloud services will be provided that will lead to digital transformation in the country. "The project includes making Google's cloud platform available to government agencies for day-to-day workloads that include areas such as finance, health, transportation and education, but is not aimed at highly sensitive or classified data," the company told the New York Times. But according to reports, Google slides aimed at training Nimbus users included software that could recognize people, infer emotional state from facial expression, and monitor objects in a video.
When Korn tried to start the protest with Gabriel Shubiner, another Jewish employee, they initially turned to Google's 3,000-strong Jewish employee group, Jewglers, to rally support. After they failed, they formed a new group called Jewish Diaspora in Tech in 2020, which now has 500 employees but is not recognized by Google, where they organized the protest activity against Nimbus. Korn told the New York Times that she took sick leave in July 2021, due to depression, anxiety and burnout. The campaign gained momentum while she was on vacation, and two weeks before she was supposed to return to work, she was interviewed by MSNBC about the protest.
According to her, when she returned to work last November she received an ultimatum from Google - she must move to Sao Paulo in Brazil within 17 business days or she will lose her job. Although Koren marketed products to customers in Latin America and even worked from Mexico until she moved to San Francisco following the outbreak of the Corona virus, but according to her, there was no business justification for the demand for the move or its urgency. In addition, she said that her inquiries revealed that the workers in Sao Paulo generally work from home, and therefore she claimed that the demand stems from harassment.
Her claims were examined by the National Labor Relations Authority in the US, which protects workers' rights, and it was not found that there was sufficient evidence for her claims. An examination by Google's human resources department also revealed that her rights were not violated and that it was a business decision.
In the letter she published in which she explained her decision to resign, Koren wrote that "Google systematically silences the voices of Palestinians, Jews, Arabs and Muslims who are concerned about its complicity in violating the human rights of Palestinians. They harass employees and create an atmosphere of fear." In addition, in her letter she called on the employees to join the protests that will take place in front of the company's offices on September 8 in front of the offices in San Francisco, New York and Seattle with the participation of Google employees and activists of the "No Tech For Apartheid" campaign.
700 employees signed a petition claiming that Google harassed Korn, and 25,000 people signed a public version of it. Following her resignation, 15 additional employees, most of them anonymous, started a campaign in which they published videos on YouTube in which they ask Google not to work with Israel, and also criticize its attitude towards the Palestinians and the censorship it applies against employees who support them, according to them.
Google told the New York Times following Korn's words that "We prohibit harassment and retaliation against employees in the workplace. We thoroughly investigated the employee's claim, as we do when we raise any concerns."
In recent years, there have been many employee protests at Google, in which the employees came out against the company's actions or criticized it on various issues, and many times those who led the protests claimed that Google harassed them as a result. Some of them even resigned or were fired afterwards. Google denies claims that it retaliated against employees for activism. A recent high-profile firing was that of Blake LeMoyne, an engineer at the company who claimed its artificial intelligence had consciousness and leaked internal documents.

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