US banks, tech firms offer support for Israel victims, announce aid

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Google LLC is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in New York City, U.S., January 20, 2023. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

As big U.S. corporations kicked off corporate earnings season this week, executives addressed the Israel-Hamas conflict and some companies launched fundraising efforts.

“I just want to say how deeply saddened that we all are about the recent horrific attacks on Israel … Terrorism and hatred have no place in our civilized world,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said on a post-earnings call before diving into results.

He warned that the war in Ukraine, compounded by the attacks on Israel, could have “far-reaching impacts on energy and food markets, global trade, and geopolitical relationships.”

On Thursday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said: “As the days have passed, the scope of the atrocities carried out against Israel and its citizens have become clearer and more horrific. It is not enough to condemn terrorism and the intentional targeting of civilians – we ourselves must take action.”

Fundraising efforts to relieve the crisis have been mobilized swiftly. Billionaires and members of the U.S. and Canadian Jewish community have contributed millions of dollars, military gear and clothing, and food and household supplies.

On Thursday, in a memo to employees, UBS said it would match $5 million in donations from employees and clients and would work to expand its network of partners to provide aid with resettlement for displaced families.

Jefferies raised $13 million from clients, partners, and employees for charities providing humanitarian aid, it said on Friday. The contributions included $2 million from Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and co-founder of Bloomberg LP.

Goldman Sachs pledged $2 million in aid and said it would match employee donations.

Delta Air Lines, which has suspended flights to and from Israel until the end of this month, said it will donate $1 million to the American Red Cross.

On Friday, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser included Israel in her opening remarks on the bank’s earnings call.

“We are a significant bank in the country, and many of our people have lost friends and loved ones,” Fraser said. “Others are being called up to serve. Despite all they’re dealing with, they are keeping our bank running in the country. And I’m, frankly, in awe of their commitment.”

More broadly, Fraser said, “the price innocent civilians are paying as this crisis unfolds is absolutely devastating to witness.”

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink also addressed Israel on the company’s earnings call.

“There’s pretty much universal condemnation of violence with civilian casualties,” said David Kotok, co-founder of Florida-based investment advisor Cumberland Advisors.

He noted that firms have refrained from mentioning specifics, given the political sensitivities of the conflict. “Once someone ventures into the space of, ‘who is the perpetrator and who is the victim,’ you enter into the exposure of social media disinformation and risk,” Kotok said.

Bosses at large tech companies have also issued strong statements.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri said: “The attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians is unjustified and inexcusable” and Amazon CEO Andy Jassy called the attacks “shocking and painful to watch.”

Amazon said it has a contingency plan to keep its AWS cloud service available for customers in Israel. Meta said on Friday it was taking steps including removing praise and substantive support for Hamas from its platforms after the European Union reprimanded social media companies for failing to adequately tackle disinformation.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said it was “important to call out and stand against antisemitism at this terrible moment” and condemned “this historic evil.” Google has two offices and over 2,000 employees in Israel.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella posted on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, that he was “heartbroken by the horrific terrorist attacks on Israel,” where the company has nearly 3,000 employees.

Some large companies including Apple and Walmart had yet to issue statements, while some prominent personalities including NBA star LeBron James have spoken out.

Supermodel Gigi Hadid, whose father is Palestinian, said on Instagram: “While I have hopes and dreams for Palestinians, none of them include the harm of a Jewish person.”

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