Google has re-assigned its global lead on diversity strategy and research after it was discovered he wrote a 2007 blog titled “If I were a Jew,” where he suggests Jews have an “insatiable appetite for war and killing” because of the actions of the nation of Israel.
The company said in a statement on Wednesday it “condemned the past writings by a member of our diversity team that are causing deep offense and pain to members of our Jewish community and our LGBTQ+ community,” adding “these writings are unquestionably hurtful”.
In 2007, following Israel’s brief war with Lebanon, where numerous Lebanese civilians were killed, the employee, Kamau Bobb, wrote a blog post lamenting the violence, and conflating Jews with the Israeli state.
“If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself,” he wrote in the post on his blog, which has since been deleted. “If I were a Jew today, my sensibilities would be tormented. I 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.”
Mr Bobb did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Google said he has been re-assigned to a STEM research role.
Following the discovery of the post, from the Washington Free Beacon, Jewish groups condemned the executive’s comments.
“How is the obscene, antisemitic bigot still employed there?” wrote StopAntisemitism.org.
"If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing“
“I would be afraid of my increasing insensitivity to the suffering [of] others."
– Kamau Bobb, head of diversity at @Google
🤯 How is the obscene, antisemitic bigot still employed there? pic.twitter.com/IzXQkAzmv9
— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) June 2, 2021
Criticising Israel is not inherently anti-Semitic, most experts agree. Israel is a country. Jews are a religious and cultural community around the world. Though they share historical links, they are not one in the same. Recently, for example, Israel the nation has come in for renewed scrutiny and condemnation following its brief conflict with Gaza last month, which overwhelmingly killed Palestinian civilians, who already live in a quasi-apartheid state in Israel to begin with, as the country becomes increasingly right-wing and pro-settlement.
What is anti-Semitic, experts warn, is conflating the Jewish people around the world and the actions of Israel, and citing some sort of inherent tendency about all Jewish people.
“It’s not inherently anti-Semitic to criticize Israel, nor is it an issue to dislike the way the country was founded,” according to a recent guide on having this conversation productively, from the Jewish news and commentary site Alma. “It’s also not a problem to dislike the policies of the Israeli government or its past or current leadership — you can open any Israeli (or Jewish!) newspaper and find many examples of these things. Jews themselves have debated whether Zionism was fair and just to the Arab inhabitants of historic Palestine since the beginning of the movement, right along with whether Zionism would resolve the problem of global Jewish persecution.”
One such example of this sort of more appropriate criticism came from within Google itself. A group of Google employees recently called on top executives to terminate any business contracts which might support the Israeli Defense Forces, citing, “Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.”