Google stockholders vote against BDS proposal on Israeli Nimbus Project

The vote to continue Google's Nimbus Project with Israel came at the recommendation of Alphabet's board of directors.

A sign is pictured outside a Google office near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, US, May 8, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/PARESH DAVE/FILE PHOTO)
A sign is pictured outside a Google office near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, US, May 8, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/PARESH DAVE/FILE PHOTO)

Alphabet stockholders voted not to approve a stockholder proposal against Google's work on Israel's Nimbus Project, after Alphabet's annual meeting of stockholders on June 1.

Vote against BDS proposal

There were 544,653,039 votes against and 55,301,799 for the proposal for Alphabet's board to issue a report reassessing its role in the $1.2 billion project to transfer Israeli government IT infastructure to cloud-based data centers. There were 3,825,111 abstentions. Each Class A common stock was worth one vote, and  Class B common stock 10 votes.

The vote rejecting the proposal fell in line with the Alphabet board of directors' recommendation to vote against it.

"Given our processes and principles governing our work with our customers and partners, including the government, and our transparency around these matters, our board does not believe that implementing this proposal would provide additional benefit to our stockholders, and, as such, recommends a vote against this proposal," said Kathryn Hall, Google's vice president, legal and head of corporate at the meeting.

Proposal against Nimbus 

The proposal "regarding a report on policies regarding military and militarized policing agencies" challenged Alphabet's collaboration with military and police, but focused on Israel and the Nimbus Project as animating the endeavor.

 BDS ACTIVISTS in action (credit: GALI TIBBON / AFP) BDS ACTIVISTS in action (credit: GALI TIBBON / AFP)

Gabriel Schubiner, a Google employee and a lead activist in the "No Tech for Apartheid" BDS campaign to quash Amazon and Google's joint involvement in the Nimbus project, presented the proposal at the stockholder's meeting in a prerecorded message.

"I'm deeply troubled by Google's recent efforts to sign contracts with militaries and policing agencies," said Schubiner, "I'm proud to speak to you today about a historic shareholder resolution calling on Alphabet to reassess the risks of these dangerous contracts pose to our users, shareholders, and the company's reputation and finances."

Schubiner asserted that Google's involvement with Project Nimbus would "provide powerful technology to an army accused of war crimes and a government that's enforcing a repressive system of apartheid according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and countless other human rights organizations."

"The Project Nimbus contract will further enable Israel's oppressive tactics and discrimination against Palestinians."

Gabriel Schubiner, a Google employee and Jewish Diaspora for Tech activist

"Palestinian families live every day under deeply intrusive surveillance and in fear of assault or being forced out of their homes," Schubiner continued. "The Project Nimbus contract will further enable Israel's oppressive tactics and discrimination against Palestinians. My Jewish heritage and history guides my belief that Palestinians deserve to live in peace and safety, as do all people."

As precedent, Google employee cited Google's AI Principles and Project Maven — A canceled Pentagon tender to create algorithms to review US Defense Department data and according to Global News could have been used to improve drone strikes. 

Hall said that the company was proud to work with the US government and military, and that the same principles that it used to guide its interactions with authorities were used in projects abroad.

No Tech for Apartheid campaign

Schubiner also noted that Google has "come under fire in the press for its retaliation against workers critical of unethical contracts," referencing allegations by fellow Google employee and Jewish Diaspora in Tech activist Ariel Koren that she was asked to relocate to Brazil as punishment for her anti-Nimbus lobbying.

The stockholder proposal claimed that almost 700 Google employees signed a public letter to end Project Nimbus, as part of Koren and Schubiner's No Tech For Apartheid campaign, which is also being managed by antizionist NGO Jewish Voice for Peace and MPower Change —  A Muslim digital advocacy organization co-founded by Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour.

Pro-Israel activists have dismissed the anti-Nimbus campaign as having little momentum in Google and Amazon, and rather than being a grassroots campaign, was alleged to actually be an astroturfed product of BDS organizations working in concert.

The campaign's website domain was registered two months prior to the group's public letter in the guardian, and Upon launch, 42 organizations had already endorsed the campaign, with another eight signings later. According to experts The Jerusalem Post consulted with at the time, it is unlikely that such a broad coalition of NGOs could be created within such a short time period.

"End the Project Nimbus contract and re-establish your companies’ commitments to human rights," The No Tech for Apartheid campaign is demanding in a letter campaign that has sent over 37,000 emails to Amazon and Google executives.