Who is Kamau Bobb? Google employee who said Jews have 'insatiable appetite for war' won't be fired
Google announced Bobb would be moved to a different role in the company, not fired after his anti-semitic blog post came to light
Kamau Bobb will no longer be Google's Head of Diversity after his anti-semitic blog post has come to light, but he will still remain an employee of the tech giant. The company announced on Wednesday, June 2, that Bobb "will no longer be part of our diversity team going forward and will focus on his STEM work."
The move is a surprising one from Google, which has several times in the past caved into employee pressure, often for very strange reasons. In January 2019, the company reportedly asked employees to be more careful about using the word 'family', after an employee complained it was "homophobic". At other times, the company has stuck to its guns despite massive internal, and external backlash - such as the firing of Timnit Gebru.
Google did not give a reason for not firing Bobb, whose antisemitic blog posts have come to light thanks to employees. The employees began pressuring Google to fire Bobb before the story was published by the press. But it seems, yet again, Google will stick to its guns and keep Bobb around.
Who is Kamau Bobb?
Bobb has been with Google since September 2018, when he was hired as the company's Global Lead - Diversity, Stratergy, and Research. It appears Google wanted to tap into Bobb's work to increase the diversity of STEM graduates. Prior to Google, his LinkedIn profile says he worked at the Georgia Institute of Technology to push "equity into computing education". Prior to that, he worked at the National Science Foundation between 2014 and 2017.
During that time, Bobb was also a member of the Barack Obama administration, serving in The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. There, he was a member of the taskforce on STEM education and entrepreneurship. Bobb has also served in a variety of other roles, around policymaking and STEM education since his graduation from Georiga Tech in 2005, with a PhD in science and technology policy. Prior to that, he obtained a BS and MS from the University of California, Berkley in mechanical engineering.
As part of his work, Bobb has also written several for various publications like The Atlantic, Just Means and Black Enterprise. But right now, it's not those articles that have grabbed Google employee's attention. Instead, everyone is focused on a 2007 blog post that has since been deleted. At the time, he was working at Georgia Tech as a research associate and decided to weigh in on the conflict in the Middle East.
'If I were a Jew' blog resurfaces
Bobb's post, titled 'if I were a Jew' says, "I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself." He also wrote, "My reflections on Kristallnacht would lead me to feel that these are precisely the human sentiments that I as Jew would understand; that I ought to understand and feel compelled to help alleviate. It cannot be that the sum total of a history of suffering and slaughter places such a premium on my identity that I would be willing to damn others in defense of it."
In the post, Bobb slammed Israel's military actions in Lebanon and Gaza, while adding that the tragedy of the holocaust should theoretically provide Jews with more "human compassion." It's unclear when exactly that entry was taken down, but it appears to be sometime around June 2-3, after it was reported by the press. Bobb's personal blog still remains active and he continues to write about topics like Black Lives Matter, education policy, and politics.
Around June 1, employees at Google spotted the blog and sent an email to the company's internal Jewish employee list, according to The Verge. The mail garnered around 80 responses, with many calling on Bobb to be fired. One anonymous employee told The Verge, "The language of this letter is very hurtful and antisemitic. 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 group and said, "What I wrote crudely characterized the entire jewish community. What was intended as a critique of particular military action fed into antisemitic tropes and prejudice. I think we can all agree, there is no easy solution to this situation. But that’s beside the point. The way I expressed my views on that conflict were hurtful."
Google has responded by removing Bobb from his current post, but keeping him with the company. It did not specify how it reached that decision, and what role Bobb would now play at Google. At the time of reporting, Bobb's LinkedIn profile still lists him as Google's Global Lead.