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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 10/21/21

Amazon and Google: partners in Israeli apartheid

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Razor wire Wall, Occupied Palestine
Razor wire Wall, Occupied Palestine
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The best-selling Irish novelist Sally Rooney is openly shunning Israel after recent reports from human rights groups warned that Israel practices apartheid, systematically oppressing Palestinians under its rule.

But while Israel risks becoming a pariah among some cultural producers, it is being aggressively embraced by globe-spanning corporations like Amazon and Google - among the wealthiest companies in history.

The two tech giants are not just lining up to do business with Israel. They are actively working to build and improve the technological infrastructure Israel needs to surveil Palestinians and confine them to the ghettos Israel's army has created for them.

Through their collaboration on Israel's Project Nimbus, both companies are helping to remove any pressure on Israel to make peace with the Palestinians and are instead becoming partners in Israeli apartheid.

Now workers for both companies are speaking out - most of them anonymously for fear of what they call "retaliation."

This month some 400 employees of the two companies published a letter in The Guardian newspaper warning that Amazon and Google were contracted to supply "dangerous technology" to the Israeli military and government that would make Israel's rule over Palestinians "even crueler and deadlier."

Under wraps

The $1.2 billion contract for Project Nimbus awarded earlier this year means the two tech firms are to build data centers in Israel on behalf of the Israeli military and government.

Senior staff will need Israeli security clearance to work on the project.

In a sign of how aware Israel is of the potential backlash against Amazon and Google's involvement, the contract bars the tech corporations from withdrawing due to pressure from either employees or the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The terms of the contracts are also being kept under wraps to prevent scrutiny.

The tech giants' wish to avoid publicity is understandable. Each pays lip service to ethical business practices. Google claims that firms "can make money without doing evil," while Amazon's "leadership principles" state a commitment to "make better, do better and be better."

Providing Israel with the technological tools to better enforce both its belligerent military occupation and its apartheid policies privileging Jews over Palestinians looks suspiciously like making a lot of money from colluding with evil.

In the words of the whistleblowing staff, Amazon and Google's collaboration allows "further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel's illegal settlements on Palestinian land."

Neither Amazon nor Google responded to a request for comment on the concerns raised in the letter.

Enforce occupation

Two employees, Gabriel Schubiner, a software engineer at Google, and Bathool Syed, a content strategist at Amazon, went public on NBC's website shortly after publication of the letter in The Guardian.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)

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