Activists disrupt Amazon conference over $1.2 billion contract with Israel

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

The protest, which interrupted a keynote address by Dave Levy, AWS’s vice president of worldwide public sector, is the latest in a recent series of protests targeting Project Nimbus.

The first activist, who appeared to be a young man in the video shared with WIRED, stood on a chair waving a Palestinian flag and demanding 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 shouted. “Why is Amazon providing cloud services for a government that is committing genocide and that is committing apartheid?”

The man was immediately escorted out by security personnel and two officers from D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department. Moments later, a second activist, who appeared to be a young woman in a video shared with WIRED, stood on a chair and waved a banner that read, “Let Gaza Live.”

“Forty thousand dead, Dave Levy!” she screamed. “You have blood on your hands, thanks to the technology that powers the indiscriminate slaughter of Palestinians! You may use technology for good, but your technology is powering genocide! How do you feel when you realize that genocide goes on in the Amazon?”

This worker was also immediately thrown out by the security personnel.

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

Israel is currently being accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice in a case brought by South Africa. In May, the International Criminal Court filed arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and two other Hamas officials, accusing them of war crimes. Israel has repeatedly denied the allegations of genocide and other crimes.

Both activists represent No Tech for Apathy, a coalition formed in 2021 to oppose Project Nimbus. The group is made up of tech workers and organizers from the Muslim grassroots group Empower Change and the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace.

In a statement released by No Tech for Apathy after the protest, the group said they have been protesting Project Nimbus since 2021, but that Google and Amazon continuing to sign contracts amid this carnage “reaches a new level of horror.”

“We are here to disrupt business as usual until they sever ties,” the statement said.

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

No Tech for Apathy has led several large protests in recent months. In March, group member and then-Google Cloud engineer Eddie Hatfield interrupted Google Israel’s managing director at Mind the Tech, a Google-sponsored conference highlighting the Israeli tech industry. Hatfield was fired a few days later.

In April, Google employees with the group staged sit-ins at the company’s offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, as well as protests outside. In response, nine employees were detained by police and more than 50 workers were fired in two waves of dismissals. Some of the fired employees filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board in response, and the case is ongoing.

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

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