Read Letter Amazon Workers Sent to Jeff Bezos Urging Solidarity With Palestinians

More than 500 Amazon employees have signed an internal letter to chief executives Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy, calling for the company to acknowledge the plight of the Palestinians, days after airstrikes in Gaza that left 248 Palestinians dead and rockets fired by Hamas that killed 13 Israelis, according to both sides' medical services.

The employees that signed the letter want Amazon to terminate business contracts with organizations that they allege violate human rights, including the Israeli Defense Forces.

The employees also demand that the technology company continue to champion free speech and create a relief fund for Palestinians affected by war.

Newsweek has contacted Amazon for comment on the letter.

The tech giant has come under fire for its support of Israeli organizations, including the government, with which it signed a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract in April in partnership with Google.

A Financial Times investigation in February 2020 found that Amazon was offering free shipping to contentious Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, but only to their Palestinian neighbors if they list their country as Israel.

Hamas and Israel agreed to a cease-fire on Thursday evening after the worst outbreak of fighting between the two sides in years.

Both sides have separately claimed victory. The latest escalation in violence began as a legal battle over attempts to evict several Palestinian families from buildings in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Israeli officials describe it as a private real estate dispute between Jewish owners and Palestinian tenants or squatters that is being resolved in the Israeli courts. Palestinian leaders and their supporters around the world view the expected evictions as a symbol of the wider Israeli strategy of building Jewish settlements on land Palestinians want for a state.

Full letter from Amazon employees:

Dear Jeff, Andy, and the Executive Team,

In recent history, Amazon has stood up and led public initiatives to recognize the injustice that many communities are facing. Along with taking a public stance on inequity, Amazon has taken the time to internalize and reflect on how it can change the culture within the company to create a more inclusive and positive environment for all employees.

These efforts should be lauded.

But we're writing to you today on a pressing matter: the human rights abuses facing the Palestinian people. As Amazonians, we believe it is our moral responsibility to stand in solidarity with and speak out on behalf of the millions of Palestinians who, for decades, have not only been dispossessed of their voices and victimhood, but, in essence, their humanity.

There is a long-standing, convoluted, and inhumane narrative that their suffering and deaths do not matter, and, in many cases, are warranted and commendable. Though, in the current milieu, we have seen millennials and Gen Zs see past this, amplifying the pain of Palestinians through various social media channels and demanding that more organizations reflect on where they stand on the issue of settler colonial violence.

Despite numerous UN resolutions and consensus from international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and B'Tsleem, that the Palestinians are living under illegal military occupation and apartheid rule, those in positions of power and influence — who have boldly stood for human rights in so many other causes — have either chosen to remain silent, or have released milquetoast "both sides" statements. Enough is enough. The recent violent and deadly display of Palestinian displacement, disenfranchisement, and dehumanization cannot, once again, be actively or passively endorsed.

It is important to clarify that our stance against the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian people is not a stance against the Jewish people.

Antisemitism has no place in our cause. Our narrative is a stance against a state continuing to perpetuate settle colonial violence against an indigenous people: the Palestinians.

In view of Amazon's historic position in favor or human rights, we implore Amazon's leadership to take the following actions:

  1. Protect and Guarantee Freedom of Speech: We ask Amazon leadership to reject, internally and publicly, any definition of antisemitism that implies that criticism of Israel or Zionism is antisemitic. Anti-Zionism is NOT antisemitism and mixing the two terms harms the pursuit of justice for Palestinians and Jews alike by limiting freedom of expression and distracting from real acts of antisemitism. We ask Amazon to commit to spending equitable time and effort to learn about and engage with the Palestinian community, as we do for the many other diverse communities, which make up our company.
  2. Acknowledge the Suffering: We ask Amazon leadership to acknowledge the continued assault upon Palestinians' basic human rights under an illegal occupation, as evidenced and witnessed by the United Nations and human rights organizations, without using language that implies a power symmetry or situational equivalency, which minimizes and misrepresents the disruption, destruction, and death that has disproportionately been inflicted upon the Palestinians in recent days and over several decades. Amazon employs Palestinians in Tel Aviv and Haifa offices and around the world. Ignoring the suffering faced by Palestinians and their families at home erases our Palestinian coworkers.
  3. Create a Relief Fund for Palestinians Affected by Military Violence: We ask Amazon leadership to reaffirm its commitment to humanitarian aid by creating a fund that supports Palestinian human rights organizations that can help those affected by military violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
  4. Establish Human Rights as an Imperative of Amazon Business and Operations: We ask Amazon leadership to 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 Defense Forces.

As part of the Amazon family, we are hopeful that our voices will be valued and heard, based on our industry-leading ID&E efforts to "take all of us, collectively, to move us forward on our journey..." We cannot think of a more appropriate application of allyship against oppression, inequity, and invisibility than this moment.

Amazon, as the innovator of some of the world's greatest operational and digital technologies, has the power and privilege to extend this to social justice.

Through this message, we hope to fulfill our role as agents of Amazon, and, perhaps more importantly, of the global community.

We welcome the opportunity to engage with you on the this pressing matter, and appreciate your time and attention.

Signed by concerned, yet hopeful, Amazonians

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces Blue Moon, a lunar landing vehicle for the Moon, during a Blue Origin event in Washington, DC, May 9, 2019. More than 500 Amazon employees have signed an internal letter to chief executives Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy, calling for the company to acknowledge the plight of the Palestinians. Saul Loeb/Getty