Over 600 Google Workers Urge the Company to Cut Ties With Israeli Tech Conference

More than 600 Google employees and counting have signed a letter addressed to Google advertising management demanding that it drop its sponsorship of Mind the Tech, an annual convention selling the Israeli tech {industry} happening in New York this week. “Please withdraw from Mind the Tech, issue an apology, and stand with Googlers and customers who are despairing over the overwhelming loss of life in Gaza; we need Google to do better,” reads the letter, which was seen by WIRED.

The two-day occasion started on Monday with a sequence of industry-focused lectures, and it concludes Tuesday with a night gala. It goals to spotlight the resilience of the Israeli tech {industry}, particularly within the face of Israel’s financial downturn following the assaults by Hamas militants on October 7. Some 1,200 Israelis died within the assaults; Israel’s army marketing campaign on Gaza in response has killed 30,000 Palestinians as of March 4.

On Monday, remarks on the convention by Barak Regev, managing director of Google Israel, have been disrupted by a Google Cloud software program engineer shouting that his work shouldn’t be utilized in service of surveillance and genocide. He was joined in interrupting the occasion by an organizer with the anti-Zionist Israeli teams Shoresh and Jewish Voices for Peace.

“I don’t see any way forward to continue my engineering work without doing this,” the Google engineer later informed Hell Gate, talking anonymously. “I consider this a part of my engineering work, and I hope other engineers within Cloud see me do this, and I hope that it galvanizes them.” Both activists have been shortly compelled out of the occasion. So was Hell Gate’s correspondent, who additionally authored this text; the occasion’s organizers didn’t provide an explanation for why they eliminated a member of the press.

Google was a “gold” sponsor of Mind the Tech, in keeping with the convention web site, though it’s unclear what monetary dedication that may have entailed. The firm didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Other audio system on Monday included New York mayor Eric Adams, Jerusalem mayor Moshe Lion, and former NSA director Michael Rogers.

Zelda Montes, a software program engineer at YouTube who attended a protest Monday outdoors the convention, informed WIRED that employee solidarity is very necessary in opposition to the context of “Israeli AI technologies used in the surveillance and genocide of the Palestinian people.”

“While our ‘leadership’ continues to fail us, I hope that we as Google workers feel more empowered to turn to one another and ask ourselves what more we can do to collectively stand against tech for oppression,” Montes mentioned.

The inside letter in opposition to Google’s participation in Mind the Tech was first shared inside Google on February 29. It was cowritten by a number of organizers for No Tech for Apartheid, a marketing campaign group calling for an finish to Project Nimbus—a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract of Israel’s authorities with Google and Amazon introduced in 2021—and some other objectionable contracts.

No Tech for Apartheid alleges that the phrases of the Nimbus contract might permit cloud applied sciences from the US firms, together with synthetic intelligence instruments, for use for army functions. Documents obtained by The Intercept point out that Project Nimbus instruments can be utilized for surveillance, an integral side of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.