Israeli Billionaire Quits Harvard Executive Board Amid Antisemitism Scandal

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An Israeli billionaire has pulled out of a Harvard executive board following the university’s botched response to the recent terror attacks on Israel by Hamas. 

Idan Ofer (pictured above), a businessman and philanthropist with a net worth of nearly $20 billion according to Bloomberg, and his wife Batia have quit the board of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government following the institution placing the “blame” on Israel.

“Unfortunately, our faith in the University’s leadership has been broken and we cannot in good faith continue to support Harvard and its committees,” the pair told CNN.

A source familiar with the matter told the outlet that the Ofers renounced their board positions because of how Harvard leaders responded to the deadly situation, with the couple stating “We denounce those who seek to place blame on the people of Israel for the atrocities committed by the terrorist organization, Hamas.”

The Ofers stated that their decision to resign “has been precipitated by the lack of clear evidence of support from the University’s leadership for the people of Israel following the tragic events of the past week, coupled with their apparent unwillingness to recognize Hamas for what it is, a terrorist organization.”

Idan Ofer, the son of the late shipping mogul Sammy Ofer, who was once Israel’s richest man according to Forbes, owns a majority stake in the conglomerate Israel Corp. as well as in Kenon Holdings, a New York company. 

According to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government webpage, members of its board are “among the most committed financial supporters” of the school.

The businessman and his wife’s pullout from the board comes as the university faces controversy stemming from an anti-Israel letter that a coalition of student groups put out following Hamas’s Saturday attack

The controversial letter blamed Israel for the attacks which left over 1,300 Israeli civilians dead and over 3,000 injured, according to the Wall Street Journal. As Breitbart News reported, the joint statement read “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”

“The apartheid regime is the only one to blame,” the letter, signed by many student groups including the Harvard Islamic Society and the Society of Arab Students, reads.

According to the Ofers, Harvard did not respond to the anti-Israel message appropriately.

“With so much disinformation being spread by social media it is essential that the world’s great institutions speak with a clear and unequivocal voice at this critical time.”

After the students’ letter was published, key business leaders including hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman began calling for the names of the students linked to the organizations backing the message to be released. Many of the students involved were doxxed, including by a truck that drove near the school’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus on Wednesday displaying names and photos of the students.

While Harvard did not publicly respond to the Ofer’s exit, its president Claudine Gay released a statement denouncing hate and defending the student body’s free speech.

Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University. (Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“People have asked me where we stand. So, let me be clear. Our University rejects terrorism — that includes the barbaric atrocities perpetrated by Hama,” she said. “Our University rejects hate — hate of Jews, hate of Muslims, hate of any group of people based on their faith, their national origin, or any aspect of their identity.”

Gay continued, saying that Harvard “rejects the harassment or intimidation of individuals based on their beliefs” and “embraces a commitment to free expression.”

“That commitment extends even to views that many of us find objectionable, even outrageous. We do not punish or sanction people for expressing such views,” she said in the video release. “But that is a far cry from endorsing them.”

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