Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Yanks Support From Columbia University Over Antisemitism

On April 22, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a graduate and long-time top donor to Columbia University, declared that he would no longer support his alma mater until campus authorities took proper action to safeguard Jewish students and staff from antisemitic activity. 

Kraft made his warning through his organization “Foundation to Combat Antisemitism” and its #StandUpToJewishHate campaign.

The 82-year-old billionaire committed $200 million of his own fortune to fund the foundation, which he set up in 2019.

He has since stated his disappointment over Columbia University’s handling of reported antisemitic activities and incidents on campus, which have surged since the bloody massacre by Hamas militants on October 7 and the Israeli military response, which has left thousands dead and displaced in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian activists at universities across the United States have called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and have demanded that their schools totally divest from Israel.

Yale University, like several other universities, has also experienced a wave of arrests, with over 60 protesters detained on Monday.

“It was through the full academic scholarship Columbia gave me that I was able to attend college and get my start in life and for that I have been tremendously grateful,” wrote Kraft on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

“However, the school I love so much – the one that welcomed me and provided me with so much opportunity – is no longer an institution I recognize.”

Kraft said he was concerned over the safety and well-being of students and faculty, regarding his lack of confidence in campus authorities to crack down on potentially harmful behavior.

“I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country. I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff and I am not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken,” he added.

Kraft, who graduated from Columbia in 1963, is one of the largest donors to the university. The Patriots owner donated millions in 2000 to Columbia’s Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life and has an outdoor playing field named after him at the campus’ athletic complex for his contributions to the university.

“It is my hope that Columbia and its leadership will stand up to this hate by ending these protests immediately and will work to earn back the respect and trust of many of us who have lost faith in the institution. It is my hope that in this difficult time, the Kraft Center at Columbia will serve as a source of security and safety for all Jewish students and faculty on campus who want to gather peacefully to practice their religions, to be together, and to be welcomed,” concluded Kraft.

In recent weeks, dozens of students have been arrested on Columbia’s campus, as the demonstrations over the conflict in Gaza have spread to many universities nationwide.

Columbia University President Dr. Nemat Shafik informed students on Monday that all classes that day would be online as pro-Palestinian protesters set up encampments on and off campus, which has led to a showdown with the New York Police Department.

The NYPD arrested over a hundred protesters on campus last week for their failure to disperse, but most remain on campus grounds.

Shafik, who has promised to crack down on any antisemitism on campus, wrote on the university’s website that she was “deeply saddened by what is happening on our campus. Our bonds as a community have been severely tested in ways that will take a great deal of time and effort to reaffirm.”

“Students across an array of communities have conveyed fears for their safety and we have announced additional actions we are taking to address security concerns,” she added.

Meanwhile, a vocal Israeli-born professor at Columbia’s business school, Shai Davidai, was recently denied entry to the campus by the university, when he attempted to lead Jewish students to a counter-protest with the administration claiming that it could not assure his safety.

Many of the left-wing radical protestors have been wearing masks to hide their identities from potential employers and some have been observed by various media outlets, chanting anti-Israeli, anti-American, and pro-communist slogans.

Pressure has been building for some time on the Biden administration from the more far-left elements of the Democrat party and among Muslim voters to put pressure on Israel to end the fighting.

In response to Kraft’s ultimatum, a Columbia spokesperson told FOX Business that “Columbia is grateful to Mr. Kraft for his years of generosity and service to Columbia.” 

“This is a time of crisis for many members of our community and we are focused on providing the support they need while keeping our campus safe,” said the spokesperson.

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