Resi real estate players respond to attack on Israel

Brokerages promise charitable actions as execs, agents speak out on social media

Resi Players Respond to Israel Attack
From left: BHS CEO Bess Freedman, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin, Douglas Elliman chairman Howard Lorber and Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman (Getty, LinkedIn, BHS)

Islamist group Hamas unleashed missiles and armed fighters this weekend in its largest terror attack on Israel in years. 

In the following days, more than 900 Israelis were murdered in the attacks that began Saturday, and 150 taken hostage. More than 830 Palestinians have been killed, as tense protests and chilling social media posts carried the aftershocks far beyond the scene of the attack.  

The weekend’s events elicited not just statements, but also calls for philanthropic action from some of the biggest names in real estate. 

“It hurt to watch,” said Brown Harris CEO Bess Freedman of a demonstration in Times Square that devolved into a clash between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters. “The only side here is humanity and not celebrating when people are being slaughtered. Are we losing our fucking minds?”

“I’m praying for innocent families on both sides, for the safe return of all those that were kidnapped, and for all of my family and friends living in Israel,” Compass CEO Robert Reffkin said in an Instagram post. 

Some of the top brokerages followed statements from executives with announcements encouraging agents to donate to humanitarian and medical nonprofits in the region.

BHS accompanied a company-wide letter of solidarity sent by Freedman via email with a list of charities for agents who wish to donate. 

Douglas Elliman is launching a fundraiser for the Israeli American Council, which a spokesperson for the brokerage said will match up to $50,000 to support hospitals, humanitarian relief efforts and Israeli soldiers.

Corcoran Cares, the philanthropic arm of the eponymous brokerage, is launching a fundraising drive to “support the efforts to help the people of Israel on the ground,” CEO Pam Liebman wrote in a company-wide email. The funds will go to organizations focused on Israel’s emergency medical service, one of the country’s largest hospitals and the Jewish National Fund, an organization dedicated to conservation and infrastructure in Israel. 

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

By signing up, you agree to TheRealDeal Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Compass agent Rachel Glazer, who is Jewish and has distant relatives in Israel, said everyone in her network has been affected by the violence, and she’s pausing posting about business on social media. 

“This sort of feels like a crazy comparison, but it does feel [as if] you’re posting your business posts after 9/11 or a war,” she said. “It’s so horrifying it just feels inappropriate.”

“For us [Israelis], it’s like watching the airplanes hit the towers,” said Kobi Lahav, senior managing director of Living NY and a native of Israel. “We can’t get that image out of our head.”

Lahav said that since the attack, he’s seen an outpouring of support from other brokers and clients, both within and outside the Jewish community. 

“We’re in a city that is supposed to understand it because the city has gone through it,” Lahav said. “New Yorkers get it.”

On the West Coast, Josh Altman, formerly of “Million Dollar Listing” and co-founder of Douglas Elliman’s Altman Brothers team, condemned the attack in an Instagram post, which acknowledged friends, colleagues and clients “in Israel and around the world” who were affected. 

Luxury developer Michael Shvo condemned the attacks, which he pointed out occurred on Shabbat and the Simchat Torah holiday. 

One day after declaring war in response to the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday Israel’s military would attack Hamas “like never before.” As officials reckon with death and hostage counts, the conflict is raging in the region. 

“As the prime minister of Israel, I tell you frankly, difficult days are still ahead of us,” he said in a televised address reported by CNN.