MacKenzie Scott Gives Millions to Philly Nonprofit Tied to Anti-Israel Penn Encampment

Bread & Roses Community Fund, flush with cash from Bezos's ex-wife, honors Philly Palestine Coalition with 'Victory is Ours Award'

Penn anti-Semitic protesters, Ben Franklin statue (Sawerchessread/Wikimedia Commons)
June 19, 2024

MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, awarded a $2 million grant to a Philadelphia-based community fund with ties to the Philly Palestine Coalition, the radical activist group behind the anti-Israel encampment at the University of Pennsylvania.

The billionaire divorcée announced the grant to Bread & Roses Community Fund on March 19, lauding the group and other grantees as "vital agents of change" that have overcome "discrimination and other systemic obstacles." Just weeks later, in May, Bread & Roses honored the Philly Palestine Coalition with its "Victory is Ours Award," which the fund gives to a local group that has "advanced moments for racial and economic justice."

"The coalition builds collective power by uniting groups working towards a shared vision of liberation for all," Bread & Roses said in its award announcement. "They organize direct actions including sit-ins, banner drops, encampments, and vigils to put pressure on division-makers to end genocide in Palestine." At its subsequent "Tribute to Change" award ceremony, held on Thursday, Bread & Roses executive director Casey Cook touted the grant from Scott, saying the fund beat out roughly 6,000 other applicants and received double the amount for which it applied. Members of the Philly Palestine Coalition attended the ceremony to accept the award and lead chants of "Free, Free Palestine."

Scott's contribution to Bread & Roses Community Fund—and the fund's work with the Philly Palestine Coalition—reflects the proliferation of funds left-wing philanthropists have contributed to anti-Israel groups in the wake of Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on the Jewish state.

The Ford Foundation, for example, has sent millions to two Middle Eastern organizations that celebrated the attack, the Washington Free Beacon reported Monday. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, meanwhile, has long bankrolled Defense for Children International-Palestine, an Israeli-designated terror organization.

Bread & Roses is one of the more than 2,000 nonprofits Scott has funded since 2019, the year of her divorce from Bezos, making her one of the biggest philanthropists in the world. She is no stranger to funding radical organizations—in 2020, Scott contributed to the Movement for Black Lives, which seeks to defund police departments and backs a boycott of Israel. The organization has referred to Israel as an "apartheid state" that commits "genocide" against Palestinians.

The Philly Palestine Coalition, a self-described "alliance of Palestinian, Black & Indigenous communities working to uplift Palestinian liberation," uses similar rhetoric when discussing the Jewish state. It also organizes anti-Israel encampments and other controversial protests.

The group worked alongside anti-Israel student protesters at the University of Pennsylvania to organize the "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" that plagued the Ivy League campus for more than two weeks. On April 25, the first day of the Penn encampment, the group called on "all Philly residents to come join us and protect these students protesting against genocide," bring "water, food, [and] tents," and "stay here as long as you can."

The Philly Palestine Coalition went on to mobilize activists to provide "jail support" when local police swept the encampment on May 10, arresting 33 participants. Roughly two weeks later, on May 22, sanctioned students at Penn held an alternate graduate ceremony honoring those who "contribute to the fight against genocide." One attendee, Ramsey Abdeljaber—who is also an organizer with the Philly Palestine Coalition—received an award titled "most likely to shot-put a Zionist."

Similarly, at Drexel University, the Philly Palestine Coalition supported student activists who had launched an encampment on May 18. Drexel president John Fry called in the police to clear out the encampment after student protesters severely disrupted campus activities for five days and targeted the Jewish community with "antisemitic ‘demands,’ such as calling for the elimination of Drexel’s Hillel chapter and Chabad."

Another activist who was honored at the Bread & Roses award ceremony last week, Nora Elmarzouky, is the cofounder of the Philly Palestine Coalition. On Oct. 19, Elmarzouky spoke at a Philadelphia City Council meeting, during which she wore a shirt that depicted Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist Leila Khaled holding a rifle with the words, "Resistance is not terrorism." Elmarzouky used her speech to accuse Israel of "genocide" and "apartheid," and Bread & Roses later honored her with their "Emerging Leader" award.

Neither Scott nor Bread & Roses responded to requests for comment.