One of Google’s top leaders in diversity strategy and research has left his position after a 2007 blog post criticizing the State of Israel resurfaced on June 1. In the post, Kamau Bobb used anti-Semitic language, insinuating Jews have an “insatiable appetite for war and murder”.
The post was quickly picked up by the New York Post and the Washington Free Beacon. “While Google has been a strong supporter of diversity initiatives, it has not commented on the recent spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes,” Read a Washington Free Beacon article on the topic.
But the controversy probably didn’t start with the right-wing press. It appears to have started internally, with an email from a member of Google’s Jewish employee resource group. On June 1, an employee sent a note to Jewish employee listserv, which has more than 3,000 members, writing that they were “deeply concerned about anti-Semitism within our DEI leadership.”
The email read:
As the topic indicates, I am deeply concerned about anti-Semitism within our leadership. Our director of diversity strategy and research seems to have strong opinions about Jews and Israel. I’ll let you all take a look at his blog for yourself, but here are some quotes you’ll find:
“If I were a Jew, I would worry about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself.”
“The ability of the United States and Israel not only to dictate the terms of my submission, but to characterize my desire to be free as rooted in hatred, would burn my intellect and my sensitivity as a human being.”
“looming large, like a great dark cloud of human cruelty, is the massacre of Palestinians by unrepentant Israeli Jews.”
Does anyone else think this is totally inappropriate for someone in this kind of position? I’m afraid someone of this level has these kinds of feelings about Jews.
The thread twisted and garnered about 80 responses, with multiple calls for Bobb to be fired.
More moderate members of the group felt that while the blog post sounded problematic, the underlying sentiment resonated. “The language of this letter is very hurtful and anti-Semitic,” said one current employee who wishes to remain anonymous. “That said, digging up an old blog from over a decade ago feels like a witch hunt.”
Later that evening, Bobb sent an email to the Jewish staff group, apologizing for what he had said. “What I wrote grossly characterized the entire Jewish community,” he wrote. “What was meant to be a criticism of certain military actions fed on anti-Semitic tropes and prejudice. I think we can all agree that there is no easy solution to this situation. But that’s beside the point. The way I expressed my opinion about that conflict was hurtful.”
Now Google has confirmed that The edge that Bobb is no longer a member of the diversity team, although he will remain with the company. “We unequivocally condemn the past writings of a member of our diversity team that deeply offend and hurt members of our Jewish and LGBTQ+ community,” a Google spokesperson wrote in a statement. “These writings are undoubtedly hurtful. The author acknowledges this and has apologized. He will no longer be part of our diversity team in the future and will focus on his STEM work.”
Google has not responded to further questions about what focusing on “STEM work” means.