September 24, 2021

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Google executive steps down after offensive manifesto about antisemitic past

Google parted ways with a cloud services executive after he published a LinkedIn manifesto about Israeli-Palestinian relations and his vehemently antisemitic past. CNBC reports that Google faced internal criticism over Amr Awadallah, VP of developer relations at Google Cloud. While Awadallah said he published the piece to promote tolerance and understanding, employees objected to how Awadallah described Jews and expressed concerns about his past beliefs.

Awadallah began the June 13th post — titled “We are one!” — with a declaration that “‘I hated the Jewish people, all the Jewish people’! and emphasis here is on the past tense.” The 10,000-word manifesto discussed his upbringing in Egypt, saying he’d been “very cautious” working with Stanford research adviser and VMWare founder Mendel Rosenblum but that Rosenblum had “converted me to be a Jew lover to be honest.” Awadallah also cited a 23andMe analysis saying he had 0.1 percent Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry to claim he “belong[s] to the Jewish ethnic group by DNA.”

At least one Google employee, Daniel Golding, publicly commented on the post. “On one hand, I’m grateful that you no longer hate my children. On the other, this has made my job as one of your colleagues much harder. The previous situation has made being a Jewish leader at Google tough. This has made it almost untenable,” Golding wrote. “I’m unsure why you would write this under your title and company affiliation and it frustrates me. You could simply have done this as a private person.”

CNBC spoke with employees who said frustration had already been building over Awadallah’s leadership style and that the post had made it harder for employees to perform effective developer relations. Awadallah joined Google in 2019 after co-founding the cloud services company Cloudera. After a tense all-hands meeting where employees confronted Awadallah about the post, Google Cloud VP of engineering and product Eyal Manor reportedly sent an internal email announcing his departure. “I wanted to share that today is Amr Awadallah’s last day at Google,” it read in part, according to CNBC. Google declined comment on the story, and Awadallah did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Verge was able to confirm his departure from the company.

Google, along with other tech companies, has faced growing internal conflicts in recent years. Employees have pushed back against alleged bias and sexual harassment and a failure to live up to its stated ideals, including firing prominent artificial intelligence ethics researchers who raised concerns about the company’s AI. In the email reviewed by CNBC, Manor reportedly noted that work at Google has been “particularly challenging with a number of organizational changes and leadership transitions while we’ve all been navigating a global pandemic and don’t have the benefit of connecting in person together like we used to.”