An Israeli billionaire businessman and his wife resigned from their places on a Harvard University board of trustees in protest over the university’s response to Hamas terror assaults on Israel.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Idan Ofer, owner of Quantum Pacific Group, is the world’s 81st richest person, with a net worth of $19.9 billion. It ranks him as Israel’s wealthiest individual.
Ofer and his wife, Batia Ofer, were members of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government’s executive board. They provided a fellowship for Israeli and Palestinian students to attend the institution, and in 2017, a building named after them was dedicated on campus.
However, the Ofers are no longer mentioned as board members on the school’s website. They also withdrew a multi-million dollar donation that they had planned to give, according to the Hebrew-language news site The Marker.
Harvard has been embroiled in controversy after a collection of student organizations issued a statement declaring that the Israeli regime was “entirely responsible” for the violence in the region.
On October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas started a series of terrorist strikes on Israel, prompting Israel to respond with “almost uninterrupted” bombardments, according to a UN body.
According to official Israeli sources published by the UN, at least 1,300 people have been murdered and over 3,700 have been injured in Israel as of Sunday. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 2,670 Palestinians have been killed and 9,600 have been injured in Gaza since the unrest began.
On October 8, the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups issued a united statement blaming Israel for Hamas assaults, sparking a massive response and charges of antisemitism.
Bill Ackman, the billionaire hedge fund manager, has asked Harvard University to publicize the names of students who are members of the groups so that employers do not “inadvertently” hire them.Other CEOs and investors have done the same.
Harvard has struggled to respond to the student organizations’ statement. Harvard President Christine Gay stated in a video on Thursday that the university opposes terrorism. However, she stated that Harvard also opposes harassment and intimidation based on people’s ideas and “embraces” a commitment to free expression, including “views that many of us find objectionable, even outrageous.”
“We do not punish or sanction people for expressing such views,” Gay said. “But that is a far cry from endorsing them.”
Some believe Harvard is not taking enough action against the students whose groups signed the statement.
“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 Ofers said in a statement sent to multiple publications including CNN.
The Ofers stated that their decision to step down from the board “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,” according to CBS News.
“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,” the Ofers added.