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US CEOs urge Harvard to name students in groups behind letter blaming Israel for Hamas attacks

A group of US business leaders has demanded that Harvard University release the names of students who were part of organizations that signed a letter blaming Israel for deadly attacks by Hamas that triggered a severe escalation of violence across Israel and Gaza.

At least 25 Americans killed in Hamas attack, Antony Blinken saysRead more

Several chief executives called for the names to be made public so that they, and others, could know not to hire the students once they leave Harvard.

Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund manager and chief executive of Pershing Square, tweeted that he and other business leaders believe the “names of the signatories should be made public so their views are publicly known”.

Ackman added: “One should not be able to hide behind a corporate shield when issuing statements supporting the actions of terrorists.”

The letter signed by around 30 Harvard student organizations was released on Sunday, in the wake of the coordinated attacks in which more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of revelers at a music festival and at least 25 Americans, were killed by Hamas militants in what Joe Biden has called the “deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust”.

The letter said the groups “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence”, adding that millions of Palestinians are forced to live in an “open air prison” with no means of escaping retaliatory air strikes that have killed more than 1,000 and displaced many more as entire neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble by the Israeli military.

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“We call on the Harvard community to take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians,” the letter concluded.

Condemnation of the letter has been strong among political and business leaders.

Seth Moulton, a Democratic congressman and former Harvard student, said he had never been more embarrassed of his alma mater.

“This is outright terrorism, and terrorism is never justified,” Moulton told WBZ-TV. “I think young Americans on college campuses need to live up to American values and be willing to have a really important honest debate, but not censor.”

Jonathan Neman, chief executive of Sweetgreen, the restaurant chain, tweeted that he would like the names of the students behind the letter.

“I would like to know so I know never to hire these people,” he said.

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A truck bearing pictures of students and the words “Harvard’s leading antisemites” has been driven around the university, according to a picture posted by Jason Furman, a Harvard professor.

Furman said he had been “horrified” by celebrations over atrocities committed by Hamas but “publishing lists of students and personal information under the headings ‘terrorist’, ‘genocidal murderer’ and ‘antisemite’ is just wrong in any circumstance, and especially when many of the people named have nothing to do with the statement”.

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Several groups listed at the bottom of the letter have retracted support, claiming they were unaware of its full content.

On Tuesday, Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard, said that while students have the right to speak for themselves, “no student group, not even 30 student groups, speaks for Harvard University or its leadership”.

“We will all be well served in such a difficult moment by rhetoric that aims to illuminate and not inflame,” Gay said. “And I appeal to all of us in this community of learning to keep this in mind as our conversations continue.”