Google critics and Jewish groups are up in arms after it emerged that one of Google’s diversity chiefs wrote an easily searchable blog post lamenting Jewish people’s “insatiable appetite for war and killing.”
Google hired Kamau Bobb as Global Lead in Diversity Strategy and Research in 2018, per Bobb’s LinkedIn page. Beforehand, Bobb worked for a decade on increasing minority representation in science, and improving access to science education. A PhD in science and technology policy and a stint working with the Obama administration fill out an impressive resume.
Yet Google evidently glossed over Bobb’s own blog when making the decision to hire him. Back in 2007, as Bobb moved between the National Academy of Engineering in Washington, DC and SRI International, a nonprofit in Virginia, the Israeli military bombed Hamas targets in Gaza, and blockaded the already impoverished Palestinian enclave.
In a blog post titled “If I Were A Jew,” Bobb wrote that he “would find it increasingly difficult to reconcile the long cycles of oppression that Jewish people have endured and the insatiable appetite for vengeful violence that Israel, my homeland, has now acquired.”
After several paragraphs criticizing Israel’s actions in Gaza and Lebanon, he suggested that the Jewish experience of persecution in the 20th century should make Israelis more sympathetic to the Palestinian “sense of displacement, abandonment and hopelessness.”
His otherwise eloquent post concluded bluntly: “If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself.”
Anti-Semitism watchdogs and Jewish advocacy groups often conflate legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism, and engaging in the former often risks accusations of the latter. These groups were outraged when they discovered Bobb’s blog on Tuesday. Pro-Israel activist Michael Dixon declared Bobb “not fit” for his position at Google, wondering whether the tech giant bothered to “Google him.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Google to “fire this antisemite,” and commenters on Twitter echoed the sentiment.
I searched for “antisemitism” and “hypocrisy”.Here’s what I found.Google Diversity Head @kamaubobb Said Jews Have ‘Insatiable Appetite for War’ https://t.co/dE7OS7Kw9Q Did @Google Google him?He’s not fit for this post.And there’s more:
— Michael Dickson (@michaeldickson) June 2, 2021
it should give Google pause that their head of diversity strategy thought (and likely still thinks) this way. What kind of diversity is supported by this kind of invective?2/https://t.co/twKhqOmti4
— Shlomo Engelson Argamon (@ShlomoArgamon) June 2, 2021
Bobb has already apologized to a Jewish group at Google for the blog entry, according to an email seen by the New York Post. “What I wrote crudely characterized the entire Jewish community. What was intended as a critique of particular military action fed into antisemitic tropes and prejudice,” he wrote, adding that he was “deeply sorry” for his words.
Whether Bobb’s article was beyond the pale is an endless argument, but Google does have a record of zero tolerance on such controversies.
The tech giant made international headlines when it fired engineer James Damore in 2017, after he sent out an internal memo criticizing Google’s diversity practices. Damore’s thoughtcrimes included suggesting that innate gender differences made women less interested than men in working in tech, and that “alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business.”
However, Damore later told The Guardian that if he could go back in time, he would “definitely” have worded his memo differently.
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