Google diversity head removed over anti-Semitic blog post

Author : rahmaarya
Publish Date : 2021-06-06 18:21:42


Google diversity head removed over anti-Semitic blog post

Google has removed its head of diversity over a 2007 blog post that said Jewish people had "an insatiable appetite for war and killing".

In a post about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that resurfaced this week, Kamau Bobb also claimed Jewish people had an "insensitivity" to suffering.

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.

Google 'suggested medical leave' for racism victims
The Israel-Palestinian conflict explained
"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 staff for the blog post.

What did the blog post say?
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 quick to call for Mr Bobb's resignation.


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Michael Dickson, head of the pro-Israel organisation Stand With Us, tweeted that the blog made "revolting, and anti-Semitic, comparisons between Nazi actions and that of the world's only Jewish country".

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."

Google advised employees in the US who complained about racism and sexism to take medical leave and undergo mental health counselling, NBC News says.

One current employee reportedly said going on medical leave is a "normalised" event after "unproductive" talks to human resources about racism.

Two leading AI ethics researchers, who had campaigned on diversity issues, said they were fired by the company.

Google denies wrongdoing, and said it "rigorously" investigates complaints.

"We have a well-defined process for how employees can raise concerns and we work to be extremely transparent about how we handle complaints," the company said in a statement.

"We take firm action against employees who violate our policies."


Google and big tech are 'institutionally racist'
Google fires AI ethics founder Margaret Mitchell
One former staff member, Benjamin Cruz, 
told NBC News that they had complained to HR in 2019 
after being told by a colleague that their skin was much darker than the co-worker expected.

"After I made that complaint, my work started getting pushed out from under me, but my team acted like everything was fine," they told NBC.

"When the medical leave was recommended to me, it was like an automatic process."

Another former employee said: "I can think of 10 people that I know of in the last year that have gone on mental health leave because of the way they were treated."

In all, NBC's investigation is said to have covered nearly a dozen first-hand employee accounts of similar experiences.

That includes Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, the two AI ethics researchers who lost their jobs last year.

Dr Gebru, whose firing led to an international wave of criticism of Google and widespread support from her colleagues, also said she had been encouraged to make use of "therapy resources".

Dr Mitchell, a co-leader of the Google ethics AI team who openly supported Dr Gebru before her own firing, wrote on Twitter that the NBC investigation reflected what had happened to her.

She said that while the topic was "painful to read and relive", it was an "incredible pinpoint of a hidden reality".



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