Amazon workers protest the company's complicity in Israeli apartheid

Amazon workers protest their company's complicity in Israeli apartheid in New York City on July 26, 2023.

(Photo: MPower Change/Twitter)

Amazon, Alphabet Workers Protest Companies' Complicity in Israeli Apartheid

"As an Amazon employee, I do not want my work to support apartheid and war crimes," said one protesting worker.

Under the rallying cry of #NoTechForApartheid, a group of Amazon and Alphabet workers rallied Wednesday with allied activists outside the tech titan's annual Amazon Web Services Summit today to demand that the company and Google cancel a billion-dollar cloud computing services contract with Israel's government and military.

The employees of Amazon and Alphabet—Google's parent company—protested Project Nimbus, through which the two tech giants sell cloud services to the Israel Defense Forces, enabling the Israeli government's surveillance and oppression of Palestinians. The project also provides data support to the Israel Land Authority, which, according to Human Rights Watch, uses discriminatory policies to expand illegal Jewish-only settler colonies on stolen Palestinian land.

Among the demonstrators standing with Amazon and Google workers were activists from MPower Change, Jewish Voice for Peace, Adalah Justice Project, Fight for the Future, and the Athena Coalition.

Project Nimbus has been the target of previous protests by Amazon and Alphabet workers, shareholders, and other activists.

"As an Amazon employee, I do not want my work to support apartheid and war crimes," software engineer Alestin Sphere said in a statement. "This contract will directly accelerate the expansion of surveillance tech, the weaponization of AI, and the proliferation of cyber weapons."

"As an employee, it's my responsibility to speak out against it, and as a Palestinian, it is my duty," Sphere contended. "Allowing this contract to be implemented without protest would be a major disservice to the world."

Laith Abad, another Amazon engineer, said that "today I'm joining my co-workers as both a first-generation Palestinian American and Amazon engineer to ensure that the tech we build and sell doesn't harm our own communities and those of our users through contracts like Project Nimbus."

"Through this contract, Amazon and Google enable the same kind of violence that the Israeli government and military inflict on many Palestinians, similar to the violence my own father and family experienced as they were ethnically cleansed from their homes," he continued.

"Amazon cannot continue justifying this contract," Abad added. "As an Amazon worker, I want a real say in my labor. I don't want my labor to be used to inflict the same violence and suffering that my family has faced on anyone else."

The employees noted that the protest "also takes place during the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, or the mass displacement and dispossession of Palestinians during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war" when more than 700,000 Arabs were ethnically cleansed from their homeland—sometimes by massacres—to make way for the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

Dani Noble, campaigns organizer at Jewish Voice for Peace, said that "leading human rights organizations have confirmed what Palestinians have been saying for decades: that Israel is an apartheid state based on Jewish supremacy, where Israeli Jews have more rights and freedoms than Palestinians."

"Amazon technology can all too easily be used by the Israeli government to entrench its apartheid system: expand Jewish-only settlements, force Palestinian families off of their land, and destroy their homes," Noble noted. "Amazon tech workers are bravely saying no more—they want their labor to help people, not enable violence against Palestinians. As Jews organizing for Palestinian freedom, we are proud to show up in solidarity with tech workers standing up for Palestinian rights."

Lau Barrios, senior campaign manager at MPower Change, a grassroots movement led by U.S. Muslims, said that Amazon "profits from surveillance, land grabs, and deadly violence against the Palestinian people."

"For almost two years, Amazon's own tech workers have been clear: They don't want their labor to enable this suffering," she asserted. "Tech companies are the new war profiteers: Amazon CEO Andy Jassy was head of AWS in May 2021 when he approved the contract and while the Israeli military systematically bombed Palestinian homes, hospitals, and schools in Gaza."

"Jassy can still choose to put people over profit, listen to his own workers, and cut ties with Israel's brutal military occupation," Barrios added. "It's our duty to show up with workers today to say No Tech For Apartheid together."

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