Jewish World Update Sep/Oct 2021

Amazon, Google, and Israel
(JNS)—Israel has announced that Amazon and Google won the tender to provide cloud services to the government as Israel moves forward with the Nimbus Project, a massive, multiyear undertaking that will replace the data-management infrastructure of government ministries and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

To date, the government has used decentralized servers and dozens of independent websites to house and manage its data. The Nimbus Project will move everything to commercial clouds provided by technology giants.

Soon Google and Amazon will manage all of official Israel’s nonclassified data and computerized applications, involving everything from government and military payrolls to welfare payments to government pensions to the medical files of all Israelis, including their personal and corporate tax returns.

The tender requires the clouds be physically located inside Israel. Google and Amazon have yet to begin building their data centers; so, for the next two years, and more likely the next three to four years, Israel’s government and IDF data will be housed in Europe.

This decision is disconcerting. The problem is not financial or technological. The problem is cultural.

During Israel’s May conflict with Hamas, some 250 Google employees who identified as anti-Zionist Jews wrote to Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, asking Google to fund Palestinian organizations and reject the determination that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. The “Jewish Diaspora in Tech” called for “Google leadership to make a company-wide statement recognizing . . . the harm done to Palestinians by Israeli military and gang violence.”

Then they turned to the Nimbus contract. “We request a review of all . . . business contracts and corporate donations and the termination of contracts with institutions that support Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, such as the Israeli [sic] Defense Forces.”

Shortly afterward, some 500 Amazon employees signed a letter almost identical to the Google one and insisted Israel is a racist, colonial project and that the land of Israel belongs to the Palestinians. They called for Amazon to support Palestinian organizations financially and “commit to review and sever business contracts and corporate donations with companies, organizations, and/or governments that are active or complicit in human rights violations, such as the Israeli [sic] Defense Forces.”

Another Amazon employee group tweeted a long chain of posts denouncing the company’s participation in the Nimbus Project, writing (among other things), “We stand in solidarity with Palestinians who went on a historic general strike to protest Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza. Amazon and Google recently signed a $1B deal supporting Israel’s military. Amazon is complicit in state killings and human rights abuses.”

In 2018 Google management caved to pressure and canceled a contract with the U.S. Defense Department. In January, Amazon canceled its cloud-service contract with the social-media platform Parler, which was identified with Republicans, claiming Parler contained “violent content.” The fact that violent content is also contained on other social-media platforms—including Amazon itself—was neither here nor there.

Furthermore, Amazon’s CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, is a close friend of musician Brian Eno, a prominent proponent of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign that seeks to boycott Israel and demonize and silence its Jewish supporters worldwide.

Although Israel’s contracts with these tech giants require that subsidiary firms in Israel actually manage the clouds and be bound by Israeli law, the subsidiaries will be wholly owned by their mother corporations. All of their equipment will be owned by Google and Amazon in the United States. If the mother corporations decide to pull the plug on the Nimbus contract, the local subsidiaries will be powerless to maintain them.

Technical considerations aside, the decision to grant Google and Amazon exclusive control over the State of Israel’s computer data did not give sufficient weight to all the relevant variables.

By Caroline Glick
Caroline is an award-winning columnist and author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Ben & Jerry’s Boycott Sparks Uproar
Susannah Levin of New York announced she quit Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream after 21 years over its decision to halt sales in Israeli settlements, calling the move a “despicable trend” of anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism, and posted on her Facebook page, “I will have no part of it,” reported timesofisrael.com. She is a contract employee. Ben & Jerry’s, owned by Unilever, said it will stop selling “in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” at the end of 2022. “The announcement triggered a storm on social media and a row with the Israeli government, which has condemned the decision,” timesofisrael.com said. Israel’s supporters are urging a boycott of Ben & Jerry’s; and officials in Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois are reviewing whether they will have to divest from Unilever, based on their state laws.

5th-Grade Native-American Curriculum Attacked Israel
(JNS)—The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has removed what it called “a clear example of implicit bias” against Israel from its mandatory K-12 Native American curriculum after CAMERA staff contacted state education officials and tribal leaders about the problems. The now-deleted section suggested Israeli oppression was a helpful “contemporary connection” for understanding the struggles of Native Americans. “Why do the Palestinians want to be free from Israeli dominance? Have their sacred homelands returned to them?” the assignment asked the children. The children had no alternative but to view Israel as a colonial aggressor.

Israel Losing Support Among Young Evangelicals
A survey by the University of North Carolina at Pembroke shows a sharp decline in the number of young evangelical Christians in the United States who support Israel. Of the more than 700 evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 29 who were polled, only 33.6 percent supported Israel compared to 69 percent in 2018. However, support for the creation of a Palestinian state has risen from 35 percent in 2018 to 44.7 percent in 2021, timesofisrael.com reported. Furthermore, 65 percent said they seldom or never hear why it is important to support Israel, which may in part explain the decline in support.

House Committee Advances Aid For Israel
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee advanced a bill that provides $3.3 billion in security aid to Israel without any preconditions, despite the call by many left-wing Democrats to reduce aid to Israel, reported JNS.org. The bill also increases aid to the Palestinians by $150 million more than the 2021 budget as proof the United States is “reaffirming its strong support for achieving a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

IDF Replaces Some Soldiers With Robots
The Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza division has started using robots to replace soldiers on the vulnerable front lines targeted by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The semiautonomous robotic ground vehicle called the Jaguar is armed with a machine gun and features high-resolution cameras, sensors, transmitters, automated driving capability, and a public address system, The Jerusalem Post reported. The Jaguar demonstrates the Israeli military’s shift to a hi-tech force and an increasingly technology-based future.

2,000-Year-Old Building Discovered Near Western Wall
Archaeologists recently unearthed an underground structure from the end of the second-Temple period (1st century AD) near the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. The building apparently boasted a luxurious lobby and ornate fountain, probably used for banquets or royalty gatherings, reported The Algemeiner.

IDF Team Gets Hero’s Sendoff In Miami
“They did much more than search and rescue,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava as Miami officials gave a hero’s sendoff to a seven-man delegation of Israel Defense Forces rescue workers in July, reported unitedwithisrael.org. The Israelis finished two weeks of grueling work assisting crews looking for bodies in the rubble of the collapsed Champlain Tower. The mayor thanked the battalion for its “unrelenting dedication.” Members of various task forces lined both sides of the street, shaking hands and bidding farewell to the Israeli team, and the El Al plane taking the team back to Israel received a water-cannon salute.

NY Times Fails To Cover Rabbi’s Stabbing
Two days after an Algemeiner column faulted The New York Times for failing to cover the July 1 stabbing of a rabbi in Boston, the Times “waddled in with an online-only article bringing its readers up to date,” reported Ira Stoll in The Algemeiner. The horrific stabbing of Rabbi Shlomo Naginski in Brighton drew immediate coverage from the Associated Press, CNN, and FOX News, among others. Khaled Awad of Brighton stabbed Rabbi Naginski eight times and has been accused of being a vicious anti-Semite. He has been arraigned on two new hate-crime charges. According to nbcboston.com, he was arraigned earlier on seven other charges in connection with the stabbing.

For news about Israel updated daily, log on to foi.org/news.

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