Dozen More CEOs Join Bill Ackman's Call to Not Hire Harvard Students Who Blamed Israel for Hamas Attack as Students Double Down on Their Statements

Board members from several groups have chosen to resign in order to disassociate themselves from the statement and its aftermath.

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Harvard students have invited trouble for themselves. At least twelve business executives have supported Bill Ackman's call to refrain from hiring members of student groups at Harvard who endorsed a letter attributing blame to Israel for Hamas' deadly attack on Saturday that killed more than 1,200 people, including at least 22 Americans.

Jonathan Newman, CEO of the salad chain Sweetgreen, was one of the business leaders who echoed Ackman's sentiments, advocating for accountability regarding the signatories of the letter circulated by a coalition of 34 Harvard student groups. The letter "hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence."

More CEOs Join Ackman

Bill Ackman
Bill Ackman X

Besides Newman, CEOs from several other companies including EasyHealth, Belong, FabFitFun, Inspired, and DoveHill, among others, aligned with billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman in the effort to reveal the identities of the members of the 31 student organizations that issued the controversial statement on Sunday.

Ackman reiterated his stance, asserting, "One should not be able to hide behind a corporate shield when issuing statements supporting the actions of terrorists, who, we now learn, have beheaded babies, among other inconceivably despicable acts."

Jonathan Newman
Jonathan Newman CEO of the salad chain Sweetgreen LinkedIn

"I would like to know so I know never to hire these people," Newman wrote in response to Ackman's post on X on Tuesday.

"Same," David Duel, CEO of healthcare services firm EasyHealth, wrote in response to Newman.

Ale Resnik, the CEO of rental housing startup Belong replied to Ackman's post, "Share the list, please. We'll stay away."

Tech investor Martin Varsavsky also wrote: "Share the list please."

"This is a must," wrote Inspired CEO Stephen Ready.

Michael Broukhim, CEO of FabFitFun, said, "We are in as well."

Ale Resnik
Ale Resnik, CEO of rental housing startup Belong LinkedIn

Michael McQuaid, head of DeFi operations at blockchain company Bloq, wrote: "I completely agree, and have been wondering the same the last couple of days if/when the names of these students would come out."

Other executives responded to Ackman with supportive emojis, including Hu Montague, the founder and vice president of the construction company Diligent, as well as Art Levy, the chief strategy officer of the payments platform Brex, and Jeremy Wayne Tate, the CEO of the Classic Learning Test.

The massive backlash and potential risk of blacklisting have spurred a wave of retractions and backpedaling from four of the original student organizations associated with the contentious statement.

Board members from several groups have chosen to resign in order to disassociate themselves from the statement and its aftermath.

Into Rough Waters

As of Tuesday night, five of the initial 34 student organizations that initially supported the inflammatory statement have already withdrawn their signatures. The five signatories that have withdrawn their endorsements, as of Tuesday night, are Amnesty International at Harvard, Harvard College Act on a Dream, the Harvard Undergraduate Nepali Student Association, the Harvard Islamic Society, and Harvard Undergraduate Ghungroo.

Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee
Members of Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee protesting for liberation of Palestine X

However, the complete list of endorsing groups was removed from the public statement earlier on Tuesday.

Late on Tuesday, an additional 17 Harvard groups, in solidarity with approximately 500 faculty and staff members, along with about 3,000 others, signed a counter-statement denouncing the letter from the previously mentioned groups as "completely wrong and deeply offensive," as reported by the campus paper, the Harvard Crimson.

A third letter was authored by nearly 160 faculty members, criticizing Harvard's response to the scandal. They expressed that the response "can be seen as nothing less than condoning the mass murder of civilians based only on their nationality."

Moreover, others in the groups initially supporting the controversial letter, which assigned complete responsibility to the Israeli regime for the ongoing violence, chose to resign and distance themselves from any association with the statement.

"As a board member of a Harvard group that signed the statement on Israel, I think it was egregious and have resigned from my role," Danielle Mikaelian tweeted Monday.

On Wednesday, the student group Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee released a statement reiterating their original message, standing by their position. This affirmation came amid the backlash, which they claim led them to cancel a planned vigil due to the intense outrage and opposition they faced.

Harvard University
Harvard University Twitter

"In the past 72 hours, our statement has made international headlines. PSC has been flooded with racist hate speech and death threats. Hundreds of students have been persecuted both on campus and online, even people unaffiliated with PSC," the group wrote.

"The targeting of Palestinian, Black, brown, Muslim and international students specifically should be extremely concerning to all parties. These threats reached such a height that we were forced to postpone our vigil, intended to mourn all innocent lives lost," they wrote.

"We are appalled at the administration's failure to protect its students' safety. To state what should be clear: PSC staunchly opposes all violence against all innocent life and laments all human suffering."

Harvard statement

Instead of issuing an apology, the group chose to double down on their message and urged the Harvard community to reject the attacks directed at students within their group. "The Palestinian death toll is only starting to mount," they wrote.

"Loss of Palestinian lives, which has tragically become an annual occurrence, neither breaks the news nor prompts White House speeches."

On Tuesday, Ackman, the hedge fund billionaire and founder of Pershing Square Capital Management, used his social media platform to call on his alma mater to disclose a list of names belonging to the student groups that endorsed the controversial statement.

Harvard University Memorial Hall
Harvard University Memorial Hall Wikimedia Commons

"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, the billionaire founder of hedge fund giant Pershing Square Capital Management, wrote on his X social media account on Tuesday.

"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, an alum of Harvard with a net worth of $3.5 billion, further said, "One should not be able to hide behind a corporate shield when issuing statements supporting the actions of terrorists, who, we now learn, have beheaded babies, among other inconceivably despicable acts."