Google Fires More Workers Behind Israel Sit-Ins as War Protests Spread Across the Nation

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu (Getty Images)
Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu (Getty Images)

Google fired at least 20 more employees on Monday evening related to the April 16 sit-in protests of the company’s cloud computing contracts with Israel, No Tech For Apartheid organizers tell Gizmodo. Google confirmed the additional firings in a statement, noting the company has concluded its investigation of the sit-in. In total, 48 Google employees were fired for allegedly “disrupting” its offices, nine of whom were arrested for trespassing.

“Our investigation into these events is now concluded, and we have terminated the employment of additional employees who were found to have been directly involved in disruptive activity,” said a Google spokesperson in an email to Gizmodo on Monday. The spokesperson says some employees took longer to identify because they were wearing masks and did not have their company badges visible.

As Google concludes the termination of workers who contributed to pro-Palestinian protests inside its offices, similar protests of the war in Israel and Gaza are engulfing the nation’s college campuses. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that protests broke out at Columbia, New York University, and Yale on Monday, leading to student and faculty arrests and the cancellation of in-person classes at some universities. Tensions remain high nationwide, and Google seems to be caught in the middle of a historic protest movement.

The protests inside Google’s offices spotlight the company’s business ties to the Israeli government. Google and Amazon hold a billion-dollar contract, Project Nimbus, to supply cloud computing to the Israeli government. Google maintains the Nimbus contract does not pertain to military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services. However, Time reported earlier in April that Google provides cloud services to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Protestors have questioned Google’s role in the AI warfare Israel reportedly engages in, however, no such evidence exists at this time.

Google tells Gizmodo every single terminated employee was “personally and definitively involved in disruptive activity inside our buildings.” The company also listed “bullying” and “harassment” as reasons for the 48 firings. However, No Tech For Apartheid disputes this.

At a virtual press conference on Monday, arrested and fired Google employees argued their entire protest was peaceful, and they claim the firings were an attempt to quash dissent within the company. Hasan Ibraheem, a former employee arrested in New York, said some of the fired Google workers were merely bystanders.

“Once security ordered people to leave around two hours in, it was just our group of four left on the ground,” Ibraheem said during the press conference. “That didn’t stop Google from firing people who had left when asked, and even some people who had just stopped by to chat were also fired.”

Ibraheem and other protestors largely expected to face repercussions for their actions. However, No Tech For Apartheid protestors decided it was worth jeopardizing their careers to speak out against Google’s work.

“I am bracing for the worst, obviously,” said Cheyne Anderson, a former Google employee in an interview with Gizmodo last week, just a day before they were fired and arrested in Sunnyvale, California. “I am doing this because it is easier for me to take this risk than it is for other people. I know there are people in Google who have family in Gaza.”

Google finds itself tangled in a difficult political moment, similar to many American institutions that have struggled to find their moral footing. However, Google has made one thing clear: it will not tolerate any more of these disruptive protests, evidenced by the company’s actions and a literal memo sent to employees last week.

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