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Billionaire Quits Harvard Board Over Lukewarm Response To Anti-Israel Letter

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Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer

Idan Ofer, an Israeli shipping tycoon with a multi-billion-dollar fortune, and his wife Batia have stepped down from their roles as board members at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Their resignation comes in protest of what they perceive as the university’s lukewarm response to a letter from student organizations. This letter placed full blame on the Israeli government for the recent attack by Hamas operatives, which killed over 1000 people. Their primary reason for dissatisfaction was the delayed and lackluster response from the university’s president, Claudine Gay.

According to the Hebrew-language news site TheMarker, the couple said that they quit the board “in protest of the shocking and insensitive response by the president of the university, who did not condemn the letter by student organizations that blamed Israel for the massacres.”

The New York Post reported that Claudine Gay has come under fire from Harvard alums, including former school president Larry Summers, who decried the “delayed” statement from her office in response to the student letter.

What was in the controversial letter?

According to The Guardian, a letter signed by around 30 Harvard student organizations was released on Sunday in the wake of the coordinated attacks in which more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of revelers at a music festival and at least 25 Americans, were killed by Hamas militants in what Joe Biden has called the “deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust”.

The letter said the groups “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence”, adding that millions of Palestinians are forced to live in an “open air prison” with no means of escaping retaliatory air strikes that have killed more than 1,000 and displaced many more as entire neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble by the Israeli military.

“We call on the Harvard community to take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians,” the letter concluded.