US billionaire demands names of Harvard students who blamed Israel for Hamas murders

LONDON: Harvard University should release the names of students who signed a letter blaming Israel for the deaths of civilians killed by Hamas on Oct. 7, American hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman has said, The Independent reported on Thursday.

The identities of the students, belonging to 33 Harvard organizations, should be revealed so that prospective employers could weigh their actions against them when applying for jobs, he added.

The letter said Israel was “entirely responsible” for the attacks, adding that they “did not happen in a vacuum.”

It continued: “For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison.

“The apartheid regime is the only one to blame,” the group added, describing the military response by Israel as “colonial retaliation.”

Ackman took to X to say “a number” of CEOs of prominent Wall Street firms had asked him for the names of the signatories’ organizations so that “none of us inadvertently hire any of their members.”

His demand was echoed by the CEOs of healthy fast-casual restaurant chain Sweetgreen, healthcare services company EasyHealth and DoveHill Capital Management.

The letter was condemned by numerous prestigious Harvard faculty members and alumni, with the university’s Harvard Hillel Jewish center saying it promoted “further hatred and antisemitism.”

Former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said he had never been more “disillusioned and alienated” with his alma mater.

Harvard’s President Claudine Gay said in a statement: “As the events of recent days continue to reverberate, let there be no doubt that I condemn the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas.

“Such inhumanity is abhorrent, whatever one’s individual views of the origins of longstanding conflicts in the region.

“Let me also state, on this matter as on others, that while our students have the right to speak for themselves, no student group — not even 30 student groups — speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.”

The attack by Hamas militants has so far claimed the lives of at least 1,300 Israelis. Around 1,400 Palestinians are thought to have been killed in Gaza by Israel’s military response. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed “mighty vengeance,” and has severed electricity, water, food and fuel supplies into the Gaza Strip.

The UN has described the humanitarian situation in the enclave, home to over 2 million Palestinians, as “dire” ahead of an expected Israeli ground offensive.

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