Google engineers tossed from conference for Israel protest


Google engineers tossed from tech conference for protesting company’s contracts with Israel

A journalist was also kicked out after posting a video of the disruption.


Marlon Ettinger


Posted on Mar 4, 2024

Google Israel’s managing director Barak Regev ended his remarks early at an Israeli tech conference in New York this morning after two engineers interrupted him to protest Israel’s war in Gaza, reported journalist Caroline Haskins on X.

“I’m a Google Cloud software engineer, and I refuse to build technology that powers genocide [and] apartheid,” one engineer said before his words were drowned out by jeers of “get out” and “see you later” from the other conference goers, as security escorted him out of the room.

Regev, who’s been Israel’s managing director in the country since 2017 according to his LinkedIn page, was giving a talk on the state of the AI industry in Israel. Israel has been accused of using AI to select military targets in Gaza.

“I am not going to focus on the challenges the Israeli tech ecosystem is facing today, I want to talk about how we are building it for the future,” Regev said, reported Ctech, which is published by Calcalist, an Israeli business newspaper which hosted the event. “It’s crucial we seize the AI momentum.”

Before the software engineer was dragged out of the room by security, he referenced Google’s Project Nimbus contract, which he said “puts Palestinian communities in danger.”

“Goodbye, goodbye,” shouted some attendees, while others booed, as the engineer repeated that he refused to build technology that supports apartheid.

Google signed a $1.2 billion contract called Project Nimbus with Israel in 2021 to provide the country’s military and government with cloud services, leading a group of anonymous employees from Google and Amazon, who were also involved in providing the services, to sign a letter published in the Guardian denouncing the move.

“This technology allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land,” the letter read.

“One of the privileges of working in a company which represents democratic values is giving a stage for different opinions,” Regev smirked after the protesting engineer was dragged out of the room.

Google employees protested the company at a vigil in London in December last December after Mai Ubeid, a Palestinian software engineer, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

Regev tried to continue with the address at the conference, but after a second person also interrupted him, he chose to end his remarks early, reported Haskins. 

Security then came for Haskins.

“Right after tweeting, a security guard said I had to leave,” Haskins also posted. “I asked why I had to leave, & took out my phone. He grabbed my phone, which I quickly took back. He grabbed both my arms & shoved me outside, then yanked my press badge from my neck.”

“I’d told him I had stuff (my backpack, laptop, coat) in the other room, and I had to wait outside for about 20 minutes before they brought it out,” the journalist wrote in a follow-up post

I don’t know exactly why I was kicked out yet. I emailed the person who gave me a press pass but haven’t heard back yet. The security guard just said he was following directions from ‘management,’” Haskins told the Daily Dot.

Calcalist didn’t immediately respond to questions about why Haskins was kicked out.

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*First Published: Mar 4, 2024, 4:07 pm CST