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Activists Disrupt Amazon Conference Over $1.2 Billion Contract With Israel

Two activists disrupted the Amazon Web Services Summit in Washington, DC, on Wednesday to protest Project Nimbus, Amazon and Google’s $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government.

The protest, which interrupted the keynote speech from Dave Levy, AWS worldwide public sector vice president, is the latest in a series of recent protests that have taken aim at Project Nimbus.

The first activist, who appeared to be a young man in a video shared with WIRED, stood on a chair waving a Palestinian flag and demanded an end to Project Nimbus.

“Dave Levy, why is Amazon contracting for a government that every mainstream human rights organization agrees is an apartheid state?” he yelled. “Why is Amazon providing cloud services for a government that is committing a genocide and that is committing the crime of apartheid?”

The man was promptly escorted out by security and two officers with DC’s Metropolitan Police Department. Shortly after, a second activist, who appeared to be a young woman in a video shared with WIRED, stood on a chair while waving a banner reading, “LET GAZA LIVE.”

“Forty-thousand dead, Dave Levy!” she yelled. “You have blood on your hands with the technology that powers the indiscriminate slaughter of Palestinians! You can do tech for good, but your technology is powering genocide! How do you feel knowing that genocide runs on Amazon?”

This activist, too, was promptly escorted out by security.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both stated that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid. Since Israel began its military campaign on Gaza last fall, more than 39,000 Palestinians, including more than 15,000 children, have died, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Israel’s military campaign followed Hamas’ October 7 attack on southern Israel, which killed more than 1,100 Israelis.

Israel is currently being charged with genocide in the International Court of Justice in a case brought forward by South Africa. In May, the International Criminal Court filed arrest warrants, alleging war crimes, for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, and two other Hamas officials. Israel has repeatedly denied accusations of genocide and other crimes.

Both activists represented No Tech for Apartheid, a coalition formed in 2021 to protest Project Nimbus. The group is made up of tech workers and organizers with Muslim grassroots group MPower Change and anti-Zionist Jewish group Jewish Voices for Peace.

In a statement released by No Tech for Apartheid after the protest, the group said that while they have been protesting Project Nimbus since 2021, for Google and Amazon to continue with the contract “in the midst of this genocide reaches a new level of horror.”

“We’re here to interrupt business as usual until they cut ties,” the statement said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

No Tech for Apartheid has spearheaded several major protests in recent months. In March, group member and then-Google cloud engineer Eddie Hatfield interrupted Google Israel managing director at Mind the Tech, a Google-sponsored conference highlighting the Israeli tech industry. Hatfield was fired days later.

In April, Google employees with the group staged a sit-in protest in company offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, with simultaneous protests happening outside. In response, nine employees were detained by police and more than 50 employees were fired in two waves of dismissals. Some of the fired workers filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board in response, and the case is ongoing.

In recent weeks, as part of another No Tech for Apartheid effort, more than 1,100 college students from more than 120 universities have signed on to a pledge vowing to not work or intern for Google or Amazon until they drop Project Nimbus.

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