|It’s been nearly a week since Hamas’ terror acts on Israel that sent the region into chaos.
The attacks and Israel’s counteroffensive have led to a significant loss of human life. As of Thursday, the death toll had climbed to over 2,700 people, with another 9,000 injured, according to estimates from Israeli and Gazan authorities.
The past week’s events have also spurred wider, intense discussions about the region’s politics.
There’s perhaps no better example of this than the situation unfolding at one of the most prestigious universities in the US: Harvard.
It all started with a joint statement by Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups released on Sunday stating the Israeli regime was “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”
Less than two days later, Bill Ackman, the billionaire investor and an alum of the school, called on Harvard to release the names of students in the groups that signed the letter. The reason? So he and other CEOs don’t “inadvertently hire any of their members.”
The following day, a truck was spotted driving through campus with a digital billboard claiming to show faces and names of students associated with the letter alongside the title “Harvard’s leading antisemites.”
The backlash didn’t go unnoticed. Several student groups retracted support for the letter, which has since been deleted. Individual students also tried to distance themselves from the controversy, saying their groups signed the letter without them knowing.
One former student said they were doxxed over the letter despite having graduated in 2021 and having no involvement with it, according to a Harvard professor.
Some have been quick to come to the defense of the students.
Larry Summers, a former US treasury secretary, Harvard president, and alum, said Ackman’s request of a list of names was “the stuff of Joe McCarthy,” in an apparent reference to the controversial former US senator. Jason Furman, an Obama-era economic advisor and a current Harvard professor, also criticized Ackman’s callout, stating that “two wrongs do not make a right.”
Ackman, for his part, has not backed down. The basis for requesting names, he said, is to “understand the character of the candidates you are considering for employment.”
Harvard’s not the only elite university that’s felt the backlash from opinions shared on the Israel-Gaza war.
Marc Rowan, the billionaire CEO of Apollo Global Management, wrote an op-ed for the student newspaper of his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, criticizing leadership’s lack of response. And an NYU law student lost their post-grad job offer over a statement blaming Israel for the Hamas attacks.