Protestors Disturb Amazon Conference Due to Controversial $1.2 Billion Contract with Israel

$1.2 Billion Contract, Activists, Amazon Conference, Disrupt, Israel

Two activists caused a commotion at the Amazon Web Services Summit in Washington, DC, by protesting against Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract between Amazon and Google with the Israeli government. This protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations targeted at Project Nimbus.

During the keynote speech by Dave Levy, the AWS worldwide public sector vice president, the first activist, believed to be a young man based on a video shared with WIRED, stood on a chair and waved a Palestinian flag. He demanded an end to Project Nimbus and criticized Amazon for contracting with a government that has been accused of being an apartheid state and committing genocide. Promptly, security and police officers removed the protester from the premises.

Shortly after, a second activist, appearing to be a young woman in a video shared with WIRED, stood on a chair while displaying a banner that read, “LET GAZA LIVE.” She accused Amazon of having blood on their hands due to the technology they provide, which she claimed powers the indiscriminate slaughter of Palestinians. Like the first activist, she was swiftly escorted out by security.

The accusation of apartheid and genocide against the Israeli government is not without controversy. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both accused Israel of apartheid. Furthermore, the Palestinian Ministry of Health claims that over 39,000 Palestinians, including 15,000 children, have died since Israel’s military campaign on Gaza began. This campaign was precipitated by Hamas’ attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,100 Israelis.

Adding to the controversy, Israel is currently facing charges of genocide in the International Court of Justice, brought forward by South Africa. In May, the International Criminal Court filed arrest warrants alleging war crimes against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, and two other Hamas officials. Israel has consistently denied these accusations.

The two activists who disrupted the Amazon Web Services Summit represent a coalition called No Tech for Apartheid, which was formed in 2021 to protest Project Nimbus. The coalition consists of tech workers and organizers from MPower Change, a grassroots Muslim organization, and Jewish Voices for Peace, an anti-Zionist Jewish group.

In a statement released after the protest, No Tech for Apartheid expressed their belief that it is horrifying for Google and Amazon to continue with the Project Nimbus contract amidst the ongoing conflict in the region. They vowed to continue protesting until the companies sever their ties with the Israeli government.

No Tech for Apartheid has been at the forefront of several significant protests in recent times. In March, Eddie Hatfield, a member of the group and then-Google cloud engineer, interrupted the Google Israel managing director at the Mind the Tech conference, a Google-sponsored event showcasing the Israeli tech industry. Hatfield was subsequently terminated from his position.

Notably, in April, Google employees associated with No Tech for Apartheid staged a sit-in protest at company offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California. Simultaneously, demonstrations occurred outside these offices. As a result, nine employees were detained by the police, and more than 50 employees were fired in two waves. Some of the terminated workers filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, leading to an ongoing investigation.

Recently, as part of their ongoing efforts, No Tech for Apartheid has managed to gather more than 1,100 college students from over 120 universities to pledge that they will not work or intern for Google or Amazon until the companies terminate their involvement with Project Nimbus.

The impact of these protests and the growing participation in the No Tech for Apartheid movement remains to be seen. However, it is evident that supporters of the movement are committed to drawing attention to the alleged human rights violations and controversial contracts between major tech companies and governments involved in conflicts around the world.

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