A collective of Google employees has released an open letter on Medium, highlighting a perceived double standard within the company concerning freedom of expression regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. The letter condemns instances of “hate, abuse, and retaliation” against Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian workers within Google. While the authors remain anonymous due to fears of reprisals, they call on CEO Sundar Pichai, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, and other senior leaders to publicly denounce the alleged ongoing genocide in the strongest terms. Additionally, they request the cancellation of Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion deal providing advanced tech to the Israeli military.
The letter, authored by Muslim, Palestinian, and Arab Google employees, along with anti-Zionist Jewish colleagues, emphasizes the need to speak out against workplace mistreatment. It provides examples of inappropriate behavior, such as accusations against Palestinians, slander against the Prophet Muhammad, and derogatory comments on official Google platforms. The group criticizes leadership for allegedly not intervening in some instances and claims that managers have labeled employees as “sick” or “a lost cause” for expressing empathy toward Gaza residents.
Furthermore, the employees assert that Google managers have publicly questioned Arab and Muslim individuals about their support for Hamas in response to their concerns for Palestinian families. The letter also alleges coordinated efforts to monitor and report the public lives of workers sympathetic to Palestine to both Google and law enforcement, accusing them of “supporting terrorism.”
Additional instances highlighted in the letter include “heartfelt appeals” to support a charity for Gaza citizens, which were met with comments dehumanizing Gazans as “animals.” Some urged Googlers to boycott relief work, claiming Palestinian schools and hospitals were used for “terrorism.” The letter accuses Google managers of using their authority to question, report, and attempt to terminate Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian employees expressing sympathy for the Palestinians. One manager allegedly endorsed the surveillance of Google employees on social media, followed by open harassment on Google work platforms.
Sarmad Gilani, a Google software engineer not involved in the letter, emphasized the delicate nature of discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict, stating that criticism of the Israeli state can be easily misconstrued as antisemitism. Google, in response, acknowledged the sensitivity of the topic, stating that a small number of employees with specific views don’t represent the entire workforce. The company encourages employees to voice concerns to HR and asserts it has taken action in the past month when conduct violates company policy.
The tensions surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict have reignited concerns about Google’s involvement in Project Nimbus. The letter demands the cancellation of the $1.2 billion deal and calls for an end to business dealings with the Israeli government and military. In response to Project Nimbus concerns, Google clarified that the contract involves workloads for Israeli government ministries, emphasizing that it does not pertain to highly sensitive or classified military activities.