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Israel-Palestine conflict | Employees urge Google to support Palestinians in letter to CEO Sundar Pichai

The letter also calls for freedom of expression, urging leadership not to equate anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel and Zionism.

May 19, 2021 / 04:45 PM IST

In the wake of mounting civilian casualties as a result of bombing raids carried out by the Israeli armed forces, a group of Jewish Google employees have called on the company to increase its support for the Palestinian people. The employees have also criticised Google’s silence on the matter. The letter currently has 250 signatures.

The letter calls on Google CEO Sundar Pichai to put out a statement condemning the violence between Israel and Palestine, which must also include “direct recognition of the harm done to Palestinians by Israeli military and gang violence.” Further noting that; “Both Israelis and Palestinians are hurting right now but ignoring the destructive and deadly attacks faced by Palestinians erases our Palestinian coworkers.” It also notes that many of the Israeli government’s actions violate the UN human rights principles.

The letter also criticises the Pro-Zionist movement and calls on the company’s leadership to “reject any definition of antisemitism that holds that criticism of Israel or Zionism is antisemitic.” Adding, “Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism, and this conflation harms the pursuit of justice for Palestinians and Jews alike by limiting freedom of expression and distracting from real acts of antisemitism.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often labelled international criticism of his government and its policies as anti-Semitic. In 2019, Netanyahu accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) of anti-Semitism after its chief prosecutor announced plans to launch an investigation into alleged war crimes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

The letter also calls on Google to “Fund relief for Palestinians affected by military violence.” Lastly, it also urges Google to terminate any business contracts which support “Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, such as the Israeli Defense Forces.” Last month, Israel tapped Google and Amazon Web Services for a $1 billion contract to provide cloud services to the government, including the IDF.

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was initiated by the Israeli government when it began evicting Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, leading to growing tension between militant forces in the region and the Israeli government, which continues its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. According to the New York Times, 212 Palestinians have been killed as a result of Israeli bombing raids, a vast majority of which are civilians, including 61 children. So far 10 Israelis, including two children, have been killed in the conflict.

Netanyahu continues to reject calls for a ceasefire igniting criticism from several world leaders and renowned political figures. While US President Joe Biden has called for peace in the region, he has done little to further that end. In a tweet, last week, US Senator for Vermont, Bernie Sanders called on the US to review its “nearly $4 billion a year in military aid to Israel”. Citing that it is “illegal for U.S. aid to support human rights violations.”

Israel’s current settlement activity in East Jerusalem is in violation of international law, according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. Many human rights groups, as well as renowned journalists, activists and academics, regard Gaza as the world’s largest open-air prison, where Palestinians must apply for permissions to leave. The conflict between Israel and Palestine has also cast a shadow on the trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing several corruption charges in his own country.

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first published: May 19, 2021 04:00 pm

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