Skip to main content

'Googler Against Genocide': Tech giant orders arrest of workers protesting contract with Israel

Internal anger over Google's $1.2bn Project Nimbus contract with Israel has grown amid Israel's war on Gaza
Activists and Google workers held protests at Google in New York City and Sunnyvale, California, on 16 April 2024 (X/No Tech for Apartheid)

Several Google employees were arrested Tuesday evening at the company’s offices in New York City and Sunnyvale, California, after the company called police to break up a protest against Google’s work with the Israeli government.

Police were seen entering a conference room at Google’s office in Sunnyvale and removing protesters wearing Palestinian keffiyehs and T-shirts reading, “Googler Against Genocide”.

The protestors said their sit-in at company offices would continue until they were removed or their employer dropped its $1.2bn "Project Nimbus" contract with Israel’s government.

The project, announced in 2021 by Google and Amazon, provides advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to Israel’s government. Since then it has sparked backlash among some Google workers who have condemned Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. That criticism has resurfaced amid Israel’s war on Gaza, which has killed over 33,000 Palestinians, mainly women and children.

Google called in the police after the 10-hour-long sit snarled work at the company’s workplaces, including the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian in Sunnyvale. The sit-in was organised by the group, No Tech for Apartheid.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Nine employees were arrested across New York and California, according to Jane Chung, the protestors' spokesperson.

“Google execs basically chose to arrest workers for speaking out against the use of our technology to power the first AI-powered genocide,” Google software engineer Mohammad Khatami, one of the protestors arrested in New York, told Democracy Now.

An online petition circulated by No Tech for Apartheid demanding that Google and Amazon cancel the Nimbus project had garnered 94,494 shares by Wednesday evening, nearing the 95,000 threshold the group had set.

“Your technology is directly supporting the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the recent genocidal bombing of Gaza that began last month,” the letter said.

“As long as your tech continues to power the Israeli military and government, you are actively complicit in this genocide.”

The protest movement comes after critics accused Google of muzzling pro-Palestinian voices.

In March, Google fired an employee who shouted, “I refuse to build technology that empowers Genocide” during a presentation in New York City by Barak Regev, Google’s Israel managing director.

In December, Google staff members and No Tech for Apartheid held a vigil in London for software engineer, Mai Ubeid, who was a graduate of the Google-funded coding boot camp, Gaza Sky Geeks, and in 2020 was part of the Google for Startups accelerator programme.

Ubeid was killed on 31 October along with her entire family in an air strike during Israel's war on Gaza. 

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.