Harvard Student Groups Face Backlash from Corporate CEOs After Anti-Israel Statement

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Harvard University President Claudine Gay issued a statement condemning Hamas after facing backlash from alumni who criticized the university for not directly addressing student groups blaming Israel for recent attacks.

Although Gay condemned Hamas and stated that student groups do not speak for Harvard leadership, she did not rebuke the students who made the accusations. A planned vigil for the victims of the attacks and a show of solidarity for Palestinians was postponed due to safety concerns.

The controversy arose when a coalition of Harvard student groups released a statement holding Israel entirely responsible for Hamas terrorist attacks that have killed at least 1,000 Israelis and several Americans. The statement called for Harvard to take action to stop the “annihilation of Palestinians.” Some business leaders, including billionaire hedge fund CEO Bill Ackman, have demanded that Harvard release the names of the students who signed the letter, with the intention of potentially blacklisting them. This move has caused division among business leaders, with some supporting the call for transparency and others warning of potential harm to the students.

“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 wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

Former Harvard president and economist Larry Summers also expressed his disillusionment with the university’s handling of the issue and called the coalition’s statement “sickening” and “morally unconscionable.”

At least five of the signatory organizations have since withdrawn their endorsements, citing miscommunication, lack of due diligence, or unawareness of the letter’s content.