Once again, the ugly BDS movement has reared its head over the landmark $1.2 billion (NIS 408 b.) Project Nimbus contract between Israel and tech giants Amazon and Google. Under the guise of civic action by employees, fringe anti-Israel groups, such as Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Linda Sarsour’s MPower group have led a campaign to demonize the two companies over their contribution to Israeli “apartheid.” In the process, they are politicizing an apolitical project that will benefit all of Israel’s citizens, including two million Arabs.
Project Nimbus, according to Google, focuses exclusively on upgrading cloud computing services at the government level for ministries, such as finance, healthcare, transportation, and education, in an effort that will create over 3,000 jobs for Israeli Arabs and Jews alike. The project has nothing to do with military or weapons technology. But that’s never stopped anti-Israel activists from, once again, hijacking the narrative to make every single issue somehow about Palestinians.
This past week, protests against Project Nimbus took place in four locations, intended to give the impression there is a tremendous pushback from within the companies involved. The reality, however, is quite different.
The protesters claimed that Project Nimbus could be misused to oppress and surveil Palestinians, despite the fact that Google and Amazon confirmed that’s not related to the project in any capacity. Google’s representative even stated, “Today’s protest group is misrepresenting the contract. Our work is not directed at highly sensitive or classified military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services.”
Opposition to project stems from anti-Israel agenda
Much of the opposition to the project isn’t even stemming from the employees themselves, but from activists with a concerted agenda against Israel. From day one, the campaign “No Tech for Apartheid” was organized by JVP and MPower, not by the employees of the companies.
One of the organizations even purchased the domain name before the campaign was launched, in October 2021. Yet, both organizations have intentionally left their logos off any campaign materials in order to give the false impression that the campaign is simply that of ordinary Amazon and Google workers.
Despite their nefarious attempts to paint a picture of massive resistance, the reality is that Amazon employs 1.6 million people and Google employs over 150,000. Even if there are several hundred workers who are opposed to Project Nimbus, it is statistically insignificant.
Yet with the backing and efforts of anti-Israel groups like MPower, the opposition to Project Nimbus is being incorrectly reported as an organic campaign by workers rather than what it is: an astroturfing campaign by two fringe groups obsessed with Israel. Naturally, the press made no mention of JVP and MPower in their protest coverage, but only mentioned the leader of the campaign, a former Google employee who is also a JVP activist.
Unfortunately for these disingenuous activists, Amazon and Google, who already operate in Israel, aren’t the slightest bit interested in the self-sabotaging campaign to boycott Israel.
Israel's gov't working to include Arabs in tech sector
Perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of the entire campaign is that while they are accusing Israel of apartheid, just a few months ago, Israel announced a new $70 million (NIS 239 m.) plan to recruit more Arab Israelis into the booming tech sector.
The program will help integrate and foster entrepreneurship in the Arab sector as part of a five-year initiative to advance high-tech and science programs in Arab communities. It is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Social Equality, together with the Israel Innovation Authority. Ironically, these ministries are likely to benefit by the work of Project Nimbus, meaning that these protesters are campaigning for a cause that will ultimately harm Arabs in Israel.
This is hardly the first time an anti-Israel campaign harms not only Israeli Arabs but also Palestinian workers. One of the inherent flaws in the proclaimed agenda of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is that it disproportionately harms Palestinian workers who are impacted by boycotts, such as what is occurring with Sodastream. The fizzy drink machine creator had a factory over the green line that employed hundreds of Palestinians but eventually relocated partially due to harassment, leaving dozens of Palestinians without jobs. But that’s not of concern for the BDS movement, which isn’t actually seeking a better future for Palestinians, rather, they seek the destruction of Israel.
The writer is the CEO of Social Lite Creative and a human rights activist.