Several US billionaires caught secretly plotting to crackdown student protests


Photo: A protester gets arrested at a march in Washington Heights, allegedly for utilizing a speaker. After several months of ongoing protest in the streets of New York, pro-Palestine demonstrators are experiencing a new wave of police repression and vigilante violence.  (Photo: Craig Birchfield)

A group of prominent American Jewish billionaires and business leaders have been privately pressuring New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, to deploy the police against pro-Palestinian student protesters at Columbia University, and even offered to pay for private investigators to assist the New York Police Department in handling the protests, according to a report by The Washington Post.

The revelations, based on a WhatsApp chat log obtained by the newspaper, shed light on the group’s efforts to shape public opinion and influence government actions in favour of Israel, while simultaneously, those involved have claimed that exposing the influence campaign of American Zionists is racist because it repeats a common anti-Semitic trope about Jewish power.

The WhatsApp group, titled “Israel Current Events”, was initiated shortly after the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel and eventually grew to include around 100 members, many of whom are featured on Forbes’s annual list of billionaires.

Some members of the group (Top L-R) Daniel Lubetzky, $2.3 billion net worth; Daniel Loeb $3.3 billion net worth, Len Blavatnik, $40 billion net worth; Joseph Sitt, $3.2 billion net worth; (bottom L-R) Howard Schultz, 3.1 billion net worth; Michael Dell, $100 billion net worth; Bill Ackman, $4.1 billion net worth; Joshua Kushner, $3.6 billion net worth. They secretly worked to shape U.S. public opinion on Israel’s war against Gaza, according to a report by The Washington Post.

The chat’s participants include Kind snack company founder Daniel Lubetzky, hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, billionaire Len Blavatnik, real estate investor Joseph Sitt, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and Joshua Kushner, founder of Thrive Capital and brother to Jared Kushner, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

The Post’s report highlights the group’s private communications with Mayor Adams, including a Zoom video call on 26 April, during which some attendees discussed making political donations to the Mayor and pressuring Columbia’s president and trustees to allow police on campus to handle protesters.

Ironically, when asked about the meeting, the Mayor’s office responded by stating, “The insinuation that Jewish donors secretly plotted to influence government operations is an all too familiar anti-Semitic trope that the Washington Post should be ashamed to ask about, let alone normalize in print.”

However, the chat logs reveal that the group’s activities extended beyond New York City, with some members attending private briefings with high-level Israeli officials, including former Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, war cabinet member Benny Gantz and Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog. The group also collaborated with the Israeli government to screen a film featuring footage compiled by the Israeli military, which was later shown at Harvard University with the help of chat member, Bill Ackman.

Ackman was a leading campaigner against the president of Harvard University Professor Claudine Gay over the handling of student protestors. Gay, who became the first Black president of Harvard last year, lost her position in the fall-out from a congressional hearing where she defended the right to protest.

The WhatsApp group’s stated mission, as outlined by a staffer for billionaire Barry Sternlicht, was to “change the narrative” in favour of Israel and to “help win the war” of US public opinion by funding an information campaign against Hamas. The staffer emphasised the need for anonymity, writing, “I’m sensitive to concerns about being less effective if it appears that this is a Jewish initiative.”

The revelations have sparked concerns about the influence of wealthy individuals on government actions and the suppression of free speech on college campuses. The chat logs show that group members not only discussed donating to Mayor Adams’s re-election campaign but also offered to pay for private investigators to assist the New York Police Department in handling the protests.

While the group’s members claim that exposing their activities is anti-Semitic, critics argue that their actions constitute an attempt to stifle legitimate political dissent and manipulate public opinion in favour of Israel.

Revelations about the pro-Israel billionaires’ secret plotting will likely raise further questions about the role of money and influence in shaping government policies and public discourse in favor of a foreign power, like Israel.