Tycoon Bill Ackman warns he’s ‘lost confidence’ in Harvard president Claudine Gay over her college’s antisemitism – and claimed she would have never parroted a free speech defense if students mocked George Floyd.
The billionaire hedge fund manager, 57, who completed his BA and MBA at Harvard University, blamed Gay for the ‘blatant’ newfound antisemitism, saying the hatred is caused by ‘your actions, and inactions.’
Ackman made clear he had lost confidence in the Harvard president. And while he stopped short of calling for her to quit, he implied that her position will become untenable if the issues following the October 7 massacres in Israel go unaddressed at the Massachusetts institution.
Gay was forced to issue three statements in the week after the massacre which saw 1,400 Israelis murdered after she was accused of failing to condemn Hamas with sufficient vehemence.
Numerous pro-Palestine student groups have been protesting for four weeks, leading to the physical and mental assault on many Jewish students, Ackman said.
In his statement, he presented the rhetorical question of whether Gay would have allowed protesters on campus to chant ‘George Floyd had it coming,’ or ‘From the Atlantic to the Pacific, America should be free of Black people.’
Bill Ackman, who is worth $3.5billion and completed his BA and MBA at Harvard University, blamed Gay for the ‘blatant’ newfound antisemitism, saying the hatred is caused by ‘your actions, and inactions’
Claudine Gay, who became president of the university earlier this year, has been criticized in the wake of the October 7 attack for failing to rebuke a widely circulated letter blaming Israel for the Hamas terror plot which killed 1,400 Israelis
The alumnus, who is now the CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, teaches numerous classes on campus, mentor current students, and is member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at the business school.
Gay, who became president of the university earlier this year, has been criticized in the wake of the October 7 attack for failing to rebuke a widely circulated letter blaming Israel for the Hamas terror plot which killed 1,400 Israelis.
The letter laid the blame for the attack that killed Israelis entirely on the Israeli government and included zero criticism or condemnation of Hamas or the violence.
Gay’s failure to urgently disavow the letter was disturbing to some students, faculty, and alumni – some of whom publicly cut financial ties with the elite university.
Ackman said he’d spent hours at Harvard last week speaking to students, and he realized that the situation is ‘dire and getting worse.’
He said in his statement: ‘Jewish students are being bullied, physically intimidated, spat on, and in several widely-disseminated videos of one such incident, physically assaulted.
‘Many Jewish students have also recently become afraid to express their concerns. Many have also felt the need to remove their mezuzahs, yarmulkes, Stars of David, and other overt evidence of their religion and heritage on campus and in Cambridge to avoid being exposed to discrimination, bullying or worse.’
The billionaire alumnus has a history of understanding and addressing minority experiences at the college – and the thesis he wrote in 1988 was even titled: ‘Scaling the Ivy Wall: The Jewish and Asian American Experience in Harvard Admissions.’
Addressing Gay, he said: ‘If Harvard indeed had a strong track record of protecting free speech, many would have taken your support for free speech more seriously.
‘Unfortunately, Harvard has not embraced a serious commitment to free speech, particularly so in recent years.’
Protesters encircle a man (with arms up), moving through the yard during the October 18 protest at Harvard University, holding up keffiyehs (scarfs) before he slips into a nearby building
He continued: ‘The issue of equity, or the lack thereof, was another issue about which I heard constant complaints, i.e., the so-called “double standard.”
‘One member of the faculty rhetorically asked: “What would Claudine do if 34 Harvard student organizations put out a statement on May 25th, 2020 that ‘George Floyd had it coming,’” noting that you have yet to condemn the student organization letter which holds Israel “solely responsible” for the heinous and barbaric acts of a terrorist organization.
‘Other faculty, alumni and students asked other rhetorical questions including: “How would Harvard respond if a trans student attempted to walk by an anti-LGBTQIA demonstration on the HBS campus and was subject to the same abuse that the Jewish HBS student experienced at the Free Palestine demonstration on October 18th?”
‘”How would you respond to a Harvard white supremacist protest where students shouted ‘Tulsa! Tulsa! Tulsa! From the Atlantic to the Pacific, America should be free of Black people.'”
‘Would Harvard even permit the above demonstrations to take place on campus?’
Ackman, whose daughter graduated from Harvard in 2020 and said that antisemitism then on campus was ‘non-existent,’ said to Gay: ‘In truth, the outburst at antisemitism at Harvard is a recent one and is largely due to your actions and inactions and that of the administration and the University at large in failing to appropriately address blatant antisemitism on campus.’
Newly surfaced video shows a confrontation at a recent demonstration on Harvard University’s campus, where pro-Palestinian protesters surrounded a student chanting ‘shame’
Palestinian supporters gathered at Harvard University to show their support for Gaza, and their hatred for Israel, at a rally in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14
Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee triggered fury by writing – on October 7 -that Israel was ‘entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.’ President Claudine Gay has been heavily criticized for failing to appropriately condemn the students who backed the statement
This comes just days after Gay assembled a group of advisors to help address antisemitism on campus just weeks after she was condemned for going soft on students who supported Hamas’ terror attack on Israel.
Gay told Harvard Hillel-hosted Shabbat dinner on Friday that she wanted to make it ‘absolutely clear’ that ‘antisemitism has no place at Harvard.’
‘For years, this university has done too little to confront its continuing presence. No longer,’ she said.
It took Gay three rounds of statements about the attack and the subsequent reaction on the Ivy League campus to staunchly condemn Hamas.
And, the condemnation occurred in the context of informing the community that the pro-Palestinian students who signed the grotesque statement would not be punished.
To the Jewish students gathered last Friday, Gay said she had assembled a group of faculty, staff, alumni, and Jewish religious leaders ‘whose wisdom, experience, and counsel will help guide us forward.’
‘Antisemitism has a very long and shameful history at Harvard. As president, I am committed to tackling this pernicious hatred with the urgency it demands,’ she said.
‘Our Jewish students have shared searing accounts of feeling isolated and targeted. This shakes me to my core – as an educator, as a mother, as a human being. Harvard must be a place where everyone feels safe and seen. It is just the right thing to do.’
Last week – prior to Gay’s announcement that she was establishing an antisemitism advisory board – Harvard created a separate task force to help students who have faced backlash and intimidation after being linked to the letter.
The letter, initially signed by some 34 Harvard students groups – several of which ultimately retracted their signatures – read: ‘We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.’
‘Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum. For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison.
‘Israeli officials promise to “open the gates of hell,” and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced. Palestinians in Gaza have no shelters for refuge and nowhere to escape. In the coming days, Palestinians will be forced to bear the full brunt of Israel’s violence.’
The statement, released before Israel had made a single retaliatory move against the barbaric terrorists who slaughtered their people, failed in full to condemn the Palestinian terrorists or loss of innocent life.
Ackman is not the only wealthy former Harvard student who has shown their disapproval or cut ties with the institution in recent weeks.
An Israeli billionaire said he and his wife are quitting the board of Harvard University’s famous Kennedy School of Business over the school’s president’s response to the surprise Hamas attacks in Israel.
Idan Ofer is the founder of Eastern Pacific Shipping reportedly worth over $14billion, according to Forbes. His wife Batia is an art collector and the descendant of Holocaust survivors.
Batia Ofer told the Hebrew-language outlet TheMarker that she and her husband are both quitting the school’s executive board over Gay’s response to the Harvard organizations signing a letter placed the blame on Israel for Hamas’ brutal attacks.
Their actions are ‘in protest of the shocking and insensitive response by the president of the university, who did not condemn the letter by student organizations who blamed Israel for the massacres.’
It’s another moment of contention for the school just a day after a professor was forced to apologize for implying the Hamas attack on Israel was an attempt to distract from Benjamin Netanyahu’s ‘own corruption.’
The groups then repeat a familiar trope of the left in accusing the Israeli government of forcing Palestine to live under an apartheid state.
‘The apartheid regime is the only one to blame. Israeli violence has structured every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years,’ they continue.
‘From systematized land seizures to routine airstrikes, arbitrary detentions to military checkpoints, and enforced family separations to targeted killings, Palestinians have been forced to live in a state of death, both slow and sudden.’
On campus, the Palestine Solidarity Committee has held inflammatory events in relation to the conflict, including protests, an ‘Apartheid Week’ and a ‘Boycott Israel Trek.’