Amazon discourages publicizing fate of Hamas-held employee, angering staffers

Only Israeli employees have been allowed to hang signs with Sasha Troufanov’s picture, and HQ has not condemned Hamas.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Amazon’s discouragement of activities to publicize the fate of one of its employees who has been held hostage by Hamas for over seven months is angering pro-Israel staffers, as is the company’s official silence on the issue, Globes reported Sunday.

Soon after the war began, a Jewish Amazon employee outside Israel told the business paper, “There was an initiative to hang posters stating how long [Sasha] Troufanov worked at Amazon versus how many days he had been held hostage, but the instruction was not to display them.”

Troufanov, who works for Amazon’s Annapurna Labs, was forcibly taken from his home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7 during the Hamas surprise invasion of Israel, along with his girlfriend, mother and grandmother.

They were among 253 kidnappees, not all alive, that the terrorists brought back into Gaza during their brutal killing spree that claimed 1,200 lives and injured thousands.

He remained in captivity along with over a hundred others after a deal in November saw most of the female and child hostages released.

Read  War won't stop Flag March going through Muslim Quarter on Jerusalem Day

Frustrated staffers condemned the global company for not speaking out against the terrorists’ war crime.

“Up to now, we haven’t heard a word about Troufanov from Amazon CEO Andy Jassy or anyone not part of Amazon Israel,” they told the business paper. “In fact, there were Jewish employees around the world who, two or three months after the massacre, still didn’t know that Amazon had an employee being held hostage in the Gaza Strip.”

A close friend of Troufanov, Neta Yesood Alon, who has previously criticized Amazon’s behavior, said that the company’s global management tried to defend its “cold shoulder,” as she called it, to activities such as these.

“It hired a worker to tell us that any public expression would endanger him,” she said. “They explained to activists and the family that any public activity in Amazon’s name was liable to put Troufanov at risk, and that they didn’t want to turn Sasha into the poster child of the hostages, because that would raise his value.”

Amazon Israel has allowed its local employees to hold meetings, hang Troufanov’s hostage poster and not objected to publicizing pictures of themselves in Amazon Prime t-shirts with his picture on them.

Yesood Alon acknowledged their help, then added, “But if it’s not communicated to the outside world, who is the message for?”

Responding to a Globes query, Amazon stated, “We continue to focus all the time on all the efforts to bring Sasha back home safely and to ensure support for his family at this difficult time. Our thoughts are with them and with all those who continue to be affected by the war.”

Meanwhile, billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who has not hesitated to call out Harvard and other elite universities over their antisemitism in not protecting their Jewish students while allowing violent anti-Israel demonstrations on campus, came to Amazon’s defense.

“I believe @Amazon is a responsible and ethical company,” he posted to X Monday, with an “excellent leadership.”

Since “the first priority of every CEO is the health and safety of his/her employees,” he wrote, he is assuming that “Amazon is doing everything it can to help, but it has said nothing publicly” because the company believes that doing so would be “harmful rather than helpful.”

He urged the public to “withhold judgment until all of the hostages are released. Let’s pray that happens soon.”

Read  Eylon Levy: Israel needs a 24/7 public diplomacy 'special forces unit'