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Palestinian man sits in rubble in Gaza

A Palestinian man sits on the rubble of a destroyed house in the Gaza Strip after 11 days of violence in May. (Photo: Mahmoud Issa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

'A Huge Deal': Amazon, Google Workers Demand Companies Sever Ties With Israeli Military

"We cannot look the other way as the products we build are used to deny Palestinians their basic rights, force Palestinians out of their homes, and attack Palestinians in the Gaza Strip."

Kenny Stancil

Roughly 400 Amazon and Google workers on Tuesday condemned their employers for contributing to the surveillance and dispossession of Palestinians by selling cloud services to the Israeli military and government and urged both companies to cut ties with the oppressive regime.

"We call on global technology workers and the international community to join with us in building a world where technology promotes safety and dignity for all."

"We have watched Google and Amazon aggressively pursue contracts with institutions like the U.S. Department of Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and state and local police departments," wrote the "employees of conscience," who chose to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation.

"These contracts are part of a disturbing pattern of militarization, lack of transparency, and avoidance of oversight," says the letter, which had been signed by nearly 100 workers at Google and more than 300 at Amazon when The Guardian published it just after 12 pm ET.

"Continuing this pattern," the letter continues, "our employers signed a contract called Project Nimbus to sell dangerous technology to the Israeli military and government."

"Project Nimbus," the workers explained, "is a $1.2 billion contract to provide cloud services for the Israeli military and government. This technology allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel's illegal settlements on Palestinian land."

The workers pointed out that "this contract was signed the same week that the Israeli military attacked Palestinians in the Gaza Strip—killing nearly 250 people, including more than 60 children."

"The technology our companies have contracted to build will make the systematic discrimination and displacement carried out by the Israeli military and government even crueler and deadlier for Palestinians," wrote the workers.

"We cannot look the other way," they added, "as the products we build are used to deny Palestinians their basic rights, force Palestinians out of their homes, and attack Palestinians in the Gaza Strip—actions that have prompted war crime investigations by the International Criminal Court."

IfNotNow, a movement to end U.S. Jewish support for the Israeli occupation, called the letter "a huge deal."

That sentiment was shared by MPower Change, a U.S. Muslim-led effort to build a more just society. 

In a Twitter thread highlighting the significance of the letter from Amazon and Google workers, MPower Change said that "tech workers making sure their tech isn't used to facilitate harm and colonial violence is history-making."

"So is the prospect of some of the world's biggest companies... being pressured to stop doing business with apartheid states," the group added.

In their letter, the Amazon and Google workers expressed their desire for technology to be utilized for emancipatory, rather than reactionary, purposes.

"To build that brighter future," they noted, "the companies we work for need to stop contracting with any and all militarized organizations in the U.S. and beyond. These contracts harm the communities of technology workers and users alike. While we publicly promise to uplift and assist our users, contracts such as these secretly facilitate the surveillance and targeting of those same users."

In addition to denouncing their employers for collaborating with the Israeli military and government and asking both companies to reject the Project Nimbus contract and other harmful deals, the Amazon and Google workers made an appeal to solidarity.

"We call on global technology workers and the international community," they wrote, "to join with us in building a world where technology promotes safety and dignity for all."


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