- Bill Ackman is calling on Harvard to release the names of students who are part of groups that signed a letter solely blaming Israel for the crisis in Gaza.
- The billionaire says he and other CEOs want to know so they don’t “inadvertently hire any of their members.”
- The letter has drawn backlash from many Harvard alums, including Ackman, for its staunch position.
Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has called on Harvard University to release the names of students who are members of organizations that signed a letter saying Israel is “entirely responsible” for the violence unfolding in the region.
The reason? So he and other CEOs don’t hire them.
“I have been asked by a number of CEOs if Harvard would release a list of the members of each of the Harvard organizations that have issued the letter assigning sole responsibility for Hamas’ heinous acts to Israel, so as to insure that none of us inadvertently hire any of their members,” Ackman tweeted. “If, in fact, their members support the letter they have released, the names of the signatories should be made public so their views are publicly known.”
Ackman was responding to an original post by Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and the president of the consultancy Eurasia Group. Ackman declined to comment to Insider.
—Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) October 10, 2023
The letter in question is a joint statement by Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups that was released on Sunday.
“We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” the letter starts out, before saying that “the apartheid regime is the only one to blame” for the violence Hamas inflicted over the weekend.
The letter was originally published with more than 30 student group signees, though the names of the organizations were removed today “to protect the safety of affected students,” an Instagram post from the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee says.
The letter drew almost immediate backlash, including from Larry Summers, the former Harvard president and US Treasury Secretary, and politicians on both sides of the aisle, like Harvard alums Representative Seth Moulton and Senator Ted Cruz.
“Let there be no doubt that I condemn the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hama,” Harvard president Claudine Gay said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”
Ackman attended Harvard for both his undergraduate and MBA degrees. In fact, his thesis explored the Jewish experience in Harvard admissions. He now runs Pershing Square Capital Management and the Pershing Square Foundation, which donated $17 million to Harvard in 2014.
Since violence broke out this weekend, the activist investor has been tweeting his support for Israel. In addition to giving to his alma mater, Ackman has donated millions to Jewish causes like the Center for Jewish History, as well as a variety of organizations like the Innocence Project, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Watch, and Teach For America.
His request to release students’ names has received a mixed response on Twitter — certainly not everyone agreed. Some people said singling out college students for being members of an organization wouldn’t be fair, as they may not even agree with the statement
Harvard and the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee did not reply to requests for comment from Insider.