Israel's Richest Couple Resign from Harvard Board, Citing Concerns over School's Response to Hamas Attacks

Israel's wealthiest couple resigns from Harvard board due to concerns over the university's response to Hamas attacks. Read the full story here.

Oct 16, 2023 - 09:35
Oct 16, 2023 - 09:35
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Israel's Richest Couple Resign from Harvard Board, Citing Concerns over School's Response to Hamas Attacks
Israel's Richest Couple Resign from Harvard Board, Citing Concerns over School's Response to Hamas Attacks

Israel's wealthiest individual, Idan Ofer, and his wife Batia Ofer, have stepped down from the executive board of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. This move is a direct result of their dissatisfaction with the university's handling of the recent Hamas attacks on Israel.

Idan Ofer, who owns Quantum Pacific Group and is ranked as the 81st richest person globally with a net worth of $19.9 billion, is considered Israel's wealthiest figure. The Ofers previously supported the Kennedy School by funding a fellowship for Israeli and Palestinian students, and a building on campus was named after them in 2017.

However, their names are no longer listed on the school's board webpage, and they have also retracted a multi-million-dollar donation that was in the planning stages.

Harvard has faced controversy after certain student organizations released statements placing full responsibility on the Israeli government for the ongoing violence in the region. The Palestinian militant group, Hamas, initiated a series of attacks on Israel, leading to retaliatory strikes, which were described by a UN agency as "almost uninterrupted" bombardments.

Official Israeli sources, as cited by the UN, report that as of Sunday, over 1,300 people have lost their lives, with more than 3,700 sustaining injuries in Israel. In Gaza, the Palestinian Ministry of Health states that 2,670 individuals have been killed, and 9,600 injured since the violence began.

Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups issued a joint statement on October 8, blaming Israel for the attacks by Hamas. This sparked significant backlash and accusations of antisemitism.

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman urged Harvard University to disclose the names of students affiliated with these groups to prevent inadvertent hiring by companies. Other CEOs and investors have echoed this sentiment.

Harvard has grappled with its response to the statements made by these student groups. In a video statement, Harvard President Christine Gay emphasized the university's rejection of terrorism while also advocating for free expression, even when views may be objectionable.

The Ofers, in their statement to multiple publications including CNN, expressed their disappointment with Harvard's leadership. They cited a lack of clear support for Israel and an unwillingness to categorize Hamas as a terrorist organization as key factors in their decision to resign from the board. They emphasized the importance of institutions providing clear and unequivocal statements during such critical times.

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