Just In: Google confirms diversity exec no longer in role after problematic post

Filed in Social Media by on June 3, 2021 0 Comments

One of Google’s top executives in diversity strategy and research resigned after a 2007 blog post criticizing Israel resurfaced on June 1st. Kamau Bobb used antisemitic language in the post, implying that Jews have a “insatiable appetite for war and killing.”

The New York Post and the Washington Free Beacon quickly picked up on the post. According to a Washington Free Beacon article, “While Google has been a vocal supporter of diversity initiatives… it has not commented on the recent spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes.”

However, the controversy was most likely sparked by the right-wing press. It appears to have started with an email from a member of Google’s Jewish employee resource group. On June 1st, an employee wrote to the Jewish employee listserv, which has over 3,000 members, expressing their “deep concern about antisemitism within our DEI leadership.”

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The email reads:

As the title suggests, I am deeply concerned about antisemitism in our leadership. Our Director of Diversity Strategy and Research appears to hold strong views on Jews and Israel. I’ll let you all look at his blog for yourselves, but here are some quotes from it:

“If I were a Jew, I would be worried about my insatiable desire for war and killing in self-defence.”

“The ability of the United States and Israel to not only dictate the terms of my subjugation but to characterize my desire to be free as hateful would burn my intellect and sensibility as a human being.”

“The slaughter of Palestinians by unrepentant Israeli Jews looms large, like a great dark cloud of human atrocity.”

Is anyone else of the opinion that this is completely inappropriate for someone in this position? I’m terrified that someone at this level has such anti-Jewish feelings.

The thread grew to about 80 responses, with several calls for Bobb to be fired.

While the blog post sounded problematic to more moderate members of the group, the underlying sentiment resonated. “The language in this letter is very hurtful and antisemitic,” a current employee who requested anonymity says. “However, unearthing an old blog from over a decade ago feels like a witch hunt.”

Later that evening, Bobb apologized in an email to the Jewish employee resource group for what he had said. He wrote, “What I wrote crudely characterized the entire Jewish community.” “What was meant to be a critique of a specific military action became a vehicle for antisemitic tropes and prejudice. I believe we can all agree that there is no simple solution to this problem. But that isn’t the point. “I was hurtful in how I expressed my views on that conflict.”

Google has now confirmed to The Verge that Bobb is no longer a member of the diversity team, though he is still employed by the company. “We unequivocally condemn past writings by a member of our diverse team that have caused deep offence and pain to members of our Jewish community and our LGBTQ+ community,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “These writings are undeniably offensive. The author is aware of this and has apologized. He will no longer be a member of our diverse team in the future and will instead concentrate on his STEM work.”

Google did not respond to additional questions about what it means to focus on “STEM work.”

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