Google's human resources department came to the defense of a member of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team who accused Israel of engaging in "settler-colonial apartheid" and promoted the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, telling Jewish employees who raised concerns that the statements were valid criticism of a foreign government.
The controversy erupted after the diversity team employee, Scout O'Beirne, posted an internal message to a group of Muslim employees asking them to press company leadership to "address the state-sanctioned violence in Palestine/Israel." Google employees pose weekly questions to company leaders using an internal platform known as "Dory," and the most popular questions are put to company leaders each Friday.
"One way the US enforces state-sanctioned racism and terror within our borders is through our police force," O'Beirne told a Jewish employee in the June 3 post. "Therefore, connecting our support of the Israeli military and their process of state-sanctioned violence seems like a no-brainer to me." She also referred employees to a suite of books, including Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions by BDS founder Omar Barghouti.
The comments could fall into the International Holocaust Remberance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism adopted by successive U.S. administrations, which states that "applying double standards" to Israel not demanded of other countries and denying the self-determination of the Jewish people "by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor" constitute anti-Semitism.
After Jewish employees registered their complaints about the contents of the message with Google's human resources department, the company said O'Beirne's remarks were acceptable because she was criticizing a government rather than a people, sources told the Washington Free Beacon.
Over the past several weeks, Google has grappled with a series of events that have elicited frustration from Jewish employees. The Free Beacon reported in June on the anti-Semitic remarks of a senior member of Google's diversity team, Kamau Bobb, who argued in a 2007 blog post that Jews have "an insatiable appetite for war." The company said little in the wake of the incident and transferred Bobb to a different team. Google's HR department also okayed an employee's use on an internal company profile of the phrase "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," which promotes the eradication of Israel, as the Free Beacon reported last week.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global anti-Semitism watchdog group, launched an online ad campaign in June criticizing Google for its "failure to address anti-Semitism in its workplace."
In internal Google correspondence obtained by the Free Beacon, O'Beirne slammed the United States as an "imperial, colonial nation-state" and denounced the "Israeli military and their process of state-sanctioned violence" in the post. She also encouraged staffers to read a book called Apartheid Israel, which accused Israel of engaging in South Africa-style apartheid.
"If you dispute that there is a settler-colonial apartheid happening in Israel & Palestine, please read any of these books (in particular: Apartheid Israel)," wrote O'Beirne.
O'Beirne urged other Google employees to "upvote" a post submitted by another staffer on Dory. The post asked Google's leadership to address "state-sponsored violence in Palestine and Israel" during a weekly meeting in which company executives field questions from employees that receive the most "upvotes."
"What is our plan, comms approach to humanitarian crisis in Palestine following air strikes, disproportionate loss of Palestinian life?" wrote the staffer.
A spokesman for Google declined to comment. O'Beirne did not respond to a request for comment.