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Billionaires Arranged Police Suppression of Columbia University Palestine Protests

A group of billionaires, ranging from hedge fund managers and venture capitalists to real estate moguls, held a 45-minute Zoom meeting with New York City Mayor Eric Adams at 11 a.m. on April 26. During the meeting, the billionaire supporters of the Netanyahu-led massacre in Palestine urged Mayor Adams to join them to convince Columbia University President Minouche Shafik and the university’s board of trustees to approve the deployment of riot police onto the campus, to clean out the student protesters who had taken over one of the buildings (named after Alexander Hamilton). The students were protesting the slaughter in Gaza and calling for the establishment of a State of Palestine.

This story is recounted in a May 16 Washington Post article, “Business Titans Privately Urged NYC Mayor To Use Police on Columbia Protesters, Chats Show.”

Group members offered “to pay for private investigators to assist New York police in handling protests,” the Post reports. The members of the chat group also offered to contribute to Mayor Adams’ 2025 re-election campaign. The WhatsApp chats turned over to the Washington Post indicated that Adams accepted both proposals.

On April 30, four days after the billionaires’ chat with Mayor Adams, police swarmed the Columbia campus, arresting dozens of protesters. The morning afterward, Adams gave a news conference summarizing the action: “We went in and conducted an operation to remove those who have turned the peaceful protests into a place where antisemitism and anti-Israel attitudes were pervasive,” he said.

Sir Len Blavatnik, who contributed $2,100 to Adams, is a fair representative of the species of people on this WhatsApp chat, which over months would involve over 100 people. Blavatnik was born in Odessa, Ukraine. After Britain’s Ralph Harris, the Lord Harris of High Cross, and his epigones oversaw the application of shock therapy to the Russian economy in the 1990s, Blavatnik moved in and bought up valuable assets at low prices, especially in aluminum and oil. As of January 2024, Forbes estimated his net worth at $31.3 billion. In 2017, Blavatnik received a British knighthood for “services to philanthropy.”

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