Anti-Israel protest against Google and Amazon accused of BDS ‘astroturf’ campaign


Pro-Israel activists and independent researchers claim that an “astroturf” campaign by anti-Israel organizations is behind public opposition by Google and Amazon employees to their companies’ involvement in the campaign. the Israeli Nimbus IT infrastructure project.

On October 12, The Guardian published an anonymous letter ostensibly signed by 390 Google and Amazon employees calling on companies to reject the Project Nimbus contract and any future dealings with Israel, which was closely followed by an NBC editorial. and an extensive online campaign. , #NoTechForApartheid, launched by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and MPower Change.

However, pro-Israel activists and researchers have claimed that the timing of the launch of #NoTechForApartheid and the militant affiliations of Google and Amazon employees involved in the campaign indicate that the letters were not the spontaneous efforts of the affected employees, but the result of a network of anti-Israel organizations working together.

Internet records show that the domain of the #NoTechForApartheid website was registered on August 17, nearly two months before the letter. Critics such as writer and researcher Emily Schrader have claimed this strongly suggests prior knowledge of The Guardian and NBC letter writing.

At the launch, 42 organizations had already approved the campaign, and eight more signed up later. According to experts consulted by the Jerusalem Post, it is unlikely that such a large NGO coalition could be created in less than two days.

BDS MOVEMENT supporters protest outside the venue for the Eurovision Song Contest final in Tel Aviv in May 2019 (AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)

The website was published with graphics, content and calls to action.

“On an organized campaign, you can spend days creating the content and then adapting in 15 minutes in real time. A professional and powerful website [graphics] can take weeks, ”said Zina Rakhamilova, COO of Social Lite Creative.

For critics, the proximity of the letters posting and the campaign launch, and the time it takes to buy a domain, build a website, and build an NGO alliance indicate close collaboration between tech workers and tech workers. anti-Israel organizations.

“A group of ‘anonymous’ Google and Amazon employees are apparently being pressured to publish a letter denouncing Project Nimbus,” said David Lange, executive director of Israelcool Israel Advocacy. “Right after the letter, anti-Israel organizations are promoting a website whose domain name was registered two months earlier, and which is already full of information on the subject of the letter. There is no doubt that this was not an act of conscience by employees pressured to speak out, but rather a campaign of manipulation orchestrated by organizations dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state. I wouldn’t be surprised if only a handful of actual employees “signed” this fraudulent letter, which is the real reason the signers were conveniently anonymous.

IN RESPONSE to accusations of collaboration, JVP said in a tweet: “Of course we are in contact with them – we have literally launched a campaign to support them.”

Investigative journalist and researcher David Collier argued on his website that he supported activists affiliated with the JVP because “only three workers, all known activists, put their names” on letters from Google employees and from Amazon.

Ariel Koren, a Google employee who disclosed her involvement in the MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin reports, and Gabriel Schubiner, software engineer and researcher at Google and one of the authors of the NBC letter, are both organizers of the Jewish group. Diaspora for Tech. Koren and Bathool Syed, the editorial’s other editor, used the campaign’s website URL or hashtag in their personal social media when launching the campaign.

The Jewish Tech Diaspora is one of the organizations supporting #NoTechForAparthied. According to her biography on Respond: Crisis Translation, Koren is one of the group’s co-creators. Schubiner is credited as the organizer of the JDT in several articles on a similar campaign in May, when the JDT berated Google for previous relations with Israel.

Like the recent Guardian letter, the previous petition also retained the names of the signatories.

“The website doesn’t even list the names of the signatories and which of them actually work for these companies,” Rakhamilova noted.

“Given their lack of transparency, we cannot definitively comment on the authenticity of the campaign. But the idea that this is the grassroots stretches gullibility, ”said CAMERA communications director Jonah Cohen. “Just look at the organizations that ‘endorsed’ the website – they are well-funded anti-Israel propaganda groups. Google and Amazon executives should raise a skeptical eyebrow about all of this. “

Project Nimbus – the Israeli computer technology project contested by the #NoTechForApartheid campaign – was awarded to Google and Amazon in April, winning fierce competition for the project’s contract against Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.

Project Nimbus is intended to provide cloud services to the Israeli government, the national defense system, and other organizations in the Israeli economy without sending data for storage abroad, posing a cybersecurity risk.

MPower Change is a Muslim digital rights organization co-founded by Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour.

Benzi Gad and Zev Stub contributed to this report.

About Michael S. Montanez

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