World’s largest search engine Google has fired its Diversity Head over a blog post he made in 2007 where he wrote that Jewish people had an insatiable appetite for war and killing.
Kamau Bobb, the ex Diversity Head made a comment on the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has been in existence since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 via the 1917 Arthur Balfour Declaration. He claimed that the Jews were insensitive to people’s suffering and the post has now been deleted.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Google told the BBC that Mr Bobb would “no longer be part of our diversity team going forward”.
“We unequivocally condemn the past writings by a member of our diversity team that are causing deep offence and pain to members of our Jewish community,” they said.
“These writings are unquestionably hurtful. The author acknowledges this and has apologised. He will no longer be part of our diversity team… and will focus on his Stem [science, technology, engineering and maths] work.
“This has come at at a time where we’ve seen an alarming increase in anti-Semitic attacks,” the spokesperson added. “Anti-Semitism… has no place in society and we stand with our Jewish community in condemning it.”
Mr Bobb – who joined Google in 2018 – has apologised to members of staff for the blog post.
In the 2007 post titled If I were a Jew, Mr Bobb described how he believed Jewish people should feel about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the Times of Israel reports.
“If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defence of myself,” he wrote.
“Self-defence is undoubtedly an instinct, but I would be afraid of my increasing insensitivity to the suffering [of] others.”
When the post resurfaced, campaigners were swift to call for Mr Bobb’s resignation.
Michael Dickson, head of the pro-Israel organisation Stand With Us, tweeted that the blog post made a nauseating comparison between the holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis and Israel which was in very bad taste.
The US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, meanwhile, also called for Mr Bobb to be removed from his post.
Mr Bobb has not publicly responded to the criticism.
However, according to the New York Post, he emailed the Jewish staff group at Google to apologise.
“What I wrote crudely characterised the entire Jewish community. What was intended as a critique of particular military action fed into anti-Semitic tropes and prejudice,” he reportedly wrote in the email.
“I think we can all agree, there is no easy solution to this situation. But that’s beside the point,” he added. “The way I expressed my views on that conflict were hurtful.”
The post was first reported by conservative political news website – The Washington Free Beacon. The timing of the 2007 blog post followed the 2006 Lebanon War, a conflict between the Israel Defense Force and militant group Hezbollah that left more than 1,000 dead.
Google told Forbes in a statement the tech giant “unequivocally condemn(s)” Bobb’s past writings, adding he was removed from his position on Google’s diversity team and will “focus on his STEM work” at the company going forward.
Bobb privately apologized to a group of Google’s Jewish employees, according to the New York Post, writing that his blog post “crudely characterized the entire Jewish community,” and what was “intended as a critique of particular military action fed into anti-Semitic tropes and prejudice.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, verbal and physical attacks have exponentially increased among Jews and it will be hypocritical of Google to have kept him in a sensitive position as Diversity Head in a world increasingly conscious of diversity and inclusiveness.
However, Jewish Google employees have complained about the company’s handling of internal discussions, alleging it doesn’t enforce policies evenly.
This post comes at a time when some Jewish employees called on the company to increase its support of Palestinians amidst Israel’s deadly bombings in the Gaza strip. In an internal letter, Google workers ask CEO Sundar Pichai to put out a statement condemning the attacks, including “direct recognition of the harm done to Palestinians by Israeli military and gang violence.” The letter currently has 250 signatures.
The letter read:
Dear Sundar and Google Executive Team:
We are a coalition of diverse Jewish and allied Googlers concerned about the internal dialogue around the political and racial violence in Israel and Palestine. We as Jews do not endorse the views of those who have written to you seeking to garner support for exclusively pro-Israel and pro-Zionist actions.
We object to the conflation of Israel with the Jewish people, affirm that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism, and implore leadership to take the following actions:
- Heed the requests of Palestinian Googlers:Palestinians are overwhelmingly affected by the militarized colonial violence ocurring in the region. Please heed the requests framed by Palestinian Googlers and center their voices going forward.
- Fund relief for Palestinians affected by military violence: We ask Google to fund Palestinian rights organizations and ensure that any support for Israeli humanitarian efforts be matched by support to Palestinian-led human rights and relief efforts.
- Recognize the pain:We ask Google leadership to make a company-wide statement recognizing the violence in Palestine and Israel, which must include direct recognition of the harm done to Palestinians by Israeli military and gang violence. Both Israelis and Palestinians are hurting right now, but ignoring the destructive and deadly attacks faced by Palestinians erases our Palestinian coworkers.
- Protect freedom of speech: We ask Google leadership to reject any definition of antisemitism that holds that criticism of Israel or Zionism is antisemitic. Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism and this conflation harms the pursuit of justice for Palestinians and Jews alike by limiting freedom of expression and distracting from real acts of antisemitism.
- Affirm Google’s commitment to human rights: Many of Israel’s actions violate the UN human rights principles, which Google is committed to upholding. We request the review of all Alphabet business contracts and corporate donations and the termination of contracts with institutions that support Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, such as the Israeli Defense Forces.
Please sign your name here if you would like to support this message.
Signed by concerned Jewish Googlers and allies