US billionaires joined Whatsapp group to change Israel narrative

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American business leaders and billionaires set up a WhatsApp group to influence public opinion on Israel’s war in Gaza and urged New York City’s mayor to use police to disperse a pro-Palestinian protest at Columbia University. The contents of the WhatsApp group were reported by the Washington Post on Thursday.

The group was created on October 12, shortly after Hamas’s surprise attack on southern Israel, with the aim to “change the narrative” on Israel, including by conveying “the atrocities committed by Hamas… to all Americans.” Among the business leaders in the group were Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks; Michael Dell, CEO and founder of Dell; and Joshua Kushner, financier and brother of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

The Washington Post received the chat contents from unnamed individuals with direct access. Last month, members of the group, including billionaire Len Blavatnik, held a Zoom call with New York City Mayor Eric Adams while a pro-Palestinian encampment was taking place at Columbia University. Some members offered to pay for private investigators to assist the police during the protests.

According to the Washington Post, a member of the group wrote that Adams had accepted such an offer. However, New York’s police denied using private investigators to manage the protests. The WhatsApp group had over 100 members and was titled “Israel Current Events.” It was set up by real estate tycoon Barry Sternlicht, who participated through a staff member. The staffer stated in October that the group’s mission was to help “win the war” of public opinion in the US, while Israel worked to win the physical war.


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