STATEMENT OF CONCERN RE. DISMISSAL OF KAMAU BOBB
We – Israeli citizens, activists, scholars, artists, high-tech workers, teachers and media workers express our deep concern over Google's decision to dismiss Kamau Bobb from his post as Global Lead on Diversity Strategy and Research.
Google’s recent action reinforces a campaign to delegitimize critics of Israeli human rights violations, labeling any such criticism as anti-Semitism. It silences the exercise of free speech and constitutes a threat to any critic of Israeli state violence around the world.
The complaint against Dr. Bobb relates to a 2007 blog post in which he expressed moral condemnation of Israel’s military invasion of Lebanon, which inflicted heavy casualties on Lebanon’s civilian population. Against this background of human suffering, Dr. Bobb’s critique should be seen as a reasonable call to moral reflection by supporters of Israel’s actions. Instead, Google has bowed to pressure by forces that will not countenance any criticism of the state of Israel.
Dismissing a respected professional for a legitimate post written 14 years in the past is a way to silence dissent in the present. It implies a warning that any commentary today might be falsely represented and used against the writer in the future. This threat comes while Israel has been flattening civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip, engaging in forced home evictions in East Jerusalem, and maintaining its apartheid policies in the West Bank. Silencing critics in times like this could be judged to be inadvertently supportive of actions qualifying under international law as war crimes.
Israeli spokesmen often refer to Israel as "the homeland of the Jewish people" and declare that it acts out of necessary self-defense. Dr. Bobb's post under review makes note of these points. Nevertheless, legitimate criticism of Israeli state policies should not be confused with antisemitism.
It is time for Google, as well as other business and governmental entities, to immediately stop the manipulative use of the term 'antisemitism' to silence calls to restrain Israel’s repeated violations of human right and international law.