Microsoft shut down an internal employee discussion on the Israel-Hamas war

  • Microsoft shut down an internal discussion about the Israel-Hamas war.
  • An employee criticized what they felt were one-sided statements from company leaders.
  • Internal emails show some comments made by company executives about the conflict.

According to internal messages, Microsoft shut down a discussion among employees about the Israel-Hamas conflict.

One employee wrote on Microsoft’s internal “all company” message board that he felt a “strong sense of disillusionment with our work and the company” because of what he saw as “one-sided statements” by the company’s senior leaders.

“Amidst the ongoing Palestinian Israeli war, it saddens me to witness a company that so strongly promotes Diversity and Inclusion show such strong discrimination and marginalization,” the individual wrote in an email. “It appears to me that the company is oblivious to the overwhelming and disproportionate suffering of the Palestinian people.”

Before Microsoft closed comments on the post, it had received approximately 600 reactions and 60 comments.

“We are now closing this thread for comments,” wrote a community manager. “We ask that you continue to practice compassion and kindness to each other and remember to follow Microsoft 365 Usage Guidelines when engaging in dialogue on Viva Engage.” Microsoft’s employee engagement platform, Viva Engage, includes corporate chat boards, formerly known as Yammer.

The post does not specify which comments from senior leaders the employee considered biased.

On October 10, Microsoft Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan issued an internal email to employees on behalf of the SLT condemning “the horrific terrorist attacks in Israel” and “the atrocities we continue to watch unfold.” She never referred to Hamas by name.

“Together with the senior leadership team (SLT), I want to express my deepest sympathy for those who have been killed, injured, lost loved ones, and all those impacted by this violence,” Hogan said in a statement. “We all condemn this hatred and brutality.” Please know that we are all with you in our hearts and actions, and we will continue to do everything we can to support you and keep you safe.”

According to Hogan, Microsoft has 3,000 employees in Israel who are directly affected.

“We have Jewish employees around the world who are also experiencing grief, fear and anxiety as hatred and vitriol increase,” Hogan said in a statement. “We have Palestinian employees globally who are deeply concerned for the safety of their loved ones in the region and stand against these acts of terrorism.”

On the same day as Hogan’s statement, a leader of the Jewish community at Microsoft Employee Resource Group strongly condemned Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, in an email to some employees.

“I recognize that this can become a highly charged topic with complicated political and cultural nuances.” Some may argue that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a two-sided issue that requires balance in discourse at this time,” the person wrote in another email obtained by Insider.

“Let me be clear: I believe in the dignity and rights of all people, regardless of race or religion.” Innocent Palestinians, like innocent Israelis, deserve to be protected,” the individual continued. “However, creating false equivalencies, especially in the aftermath of such a catastrophic, unprovoked attack, diminishes the sheer magnitude of the tragedy and sends an implicit message that these actions are somehow justified.” They do not.”

“Hamas’s stated goal is to eradicate the Jewish presence in Israel, a goal that does not reflect the broader will of the Palestinian people,” they said in a statement. “We cannot stand by while this kind of violence unfolds, against any group.”

Microsoft isn’t the only company with a significant presence in Israel attempting to navigate the situation. According to an internal email, Nvidia has just informed its employees that it will match their humanitarian donations to “Israel, Gaza, or both” as it attempts to raise $10 million for those efforts.

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