The U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas is praising a former Google employee who quit the company over its support for the Israeli military’s artificial intelligence program.
On Tuesday, Google employee Ariel Koren published a lengthy blog post describing her reasons for quitting the company. Koren, who identified herself as a Jewish Google employee, said she opposed Google’s work on Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion partnership between Google, Amazon and the Israeli government to develop artificial intelligence tools for their military.
In her post, Koren said training documents for Project Nimbus emphasize the project’s focus on “the ‘faces, facial landmarks, emotions’-detection capabilities of Google’s Cloud Vision API.” She also said one Google employee working on the project told Israeli officials it could “process data through Nimbus in order to determine if someone is lying.”
“It is clear that the tools provided through Nimbus have the potential to expand Israel’s pattern of surveillance, racial profiling, and other forms of tech-assisted human rights violations,” Koren said.
“Since the launch of Nimbus, leading human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have echoed what Palestinian activists and the global community have said for decades: Israel is an apartheid state,” she said. “Even in the wake of the growing mainstream acknowledgement of Israeli apartheid, Google has stood by its contracts with the Israeli government and military. The world’s largest search engine is contracting with a military actively carrying out war crimes and upholding apartheid, while workers have no say in how the technology we provide them is used.”
Responding to Koren’s post, Hamas said it “hails the courageous stance of Google marketing manager, Ariel Koren, who rejects Google’s policy of providing services and logistical support to the Zionist occupation, which targets the Palestinian people and their rights, and accuses Google of being complicit in violations against Palestinian human rights.”
In her Tuesday blog post, Koren described another incident that set her at odds with Google.
In June of 2020, Google apologized to its Jewish employees for donating to Movement for Black Lives, M4BL. The organization has posted statements calling for an end to U.S. aid to Israel. After Google came to recognize these stances, it apologized to its Jewish employees through an internal Jewish employee group called “Jewglers.”
Koren said the Jewglers group “was chartered as a space where all Jewish Googlers can connect, and, if necessary, address discrimination in the workplace. However, in practice, this group is systemically functioning as an outlet to drive forward right-wing ideologies under the guise of promoting diversity.” She also said the group has “weaponized” company diversity efforts to “silence the voices of Googlers who support Palestinian freedom.”
Koren said she was “mortified” that Google apologized for donating to M4BL after Jewglers complained about the donation.
“I was part of a group of Jewish Googlers that emailed company leadership asking them to stand by their donation to M4BL,” she said. “But they ignored us, and instead of standing firm with Black communities fighting for safety and dignity, they continued to endorse the Jewglers by making an official donation of $400,000 to four right-wing non-Black groups of Jewglers’ choosing in the middle of the BLM uprisings.”