Philanthropic group nixes partnership with Harvard over pro-Hamas debacle

Harvard faces backlash after the university refused to censure student groups which endorsed Hamas.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

The Wexner Foundation, a prominent philanthropic organization, announced on Monday that it is terminating a longstanding partnership with Harvard University because of the school’s belated condemnation of Hamas’ terrorist onslaught against Israel and refusal to censure students who expressed support for it.

“The Wexner Foundation is formally ending its financial and programmatic relationships with Harvard and the Harvard Kennedy School,” the group said in a letter to the university’s board of overseers. “We make this decision with an unwavering commitment to our Israel alumni, to Israel’s civil service, and to the State of Israel.”

Founded in 1983, the Wexner Foundation fosters Jewish leadership and community in both North America and Israel.

Since 1989, its highly competitive Wexner Israel Fellowship Program has sent 10 Israeli public sector workers each year to the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government for a fellowship in which they earn credits toward a master’s degree in public administration.

Hundreds of fellows have gone on to enjoy distinguished careers in Israel as lawmakers, military leaders, and government officials. This year’s class will seemingly be the last, according to the Wexner Foundation.

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In Monday’s letter, the foundation noted that its fellows have felt increasingly alienated and vilified at the school in recent years — a period of time during which, as The Algemeiner has previously reported, anti-Zionist attitudes and antisemitic activity on campus has increased significantly.

“We believed that at its core, [Harvard] was a school with moral purpose, matching the core values we embrace in our own work,” the missive said. “We have observed that this cherished tolerance for diverse perspectives has slowly but perceptibly narrowed.”

Last week, while scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting Israeli children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 Harvard student groups, led by the school’s Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC), issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite the Israeli military having withdrawn from the territory in 2005.

Harvard University President Claudine Gay said on Thursday that the members of the student groups should not be punished, citing the school’s commitment to “free expression.” However, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), Harvard has an “abysmal” track record of protecting free speech, having fired three professors for uttering statements or publishing work containing controversial stances.

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“We are stunned and sickened by the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians,” the Wexner Foundation said.

Over 1,400 Israelis were killed in Hamas’ surprise invasion last weekend.

The Wexner Foundation’s announcement comes amid reports, first disclosed by eJewishPhilanthropy, that Harvard alumni and other major donors, shocked by the university’s response to Hamas atrocities, are considering ceasing their financial support for the university.

Anti-Zionism is not new to Harvard. At the start of this academic year, a student and anti-Israel activist interrupted a convocation ceremony held by the school, shouting at Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana, “Here’s the real truth — Harvard supports, upholds, and invests in Israeli apartheid, and the oppression of Palestinians!”