Wexner Foundation, a philanthropic organisation owned by Victoria’s Secret billionaire Leslie Wexner and his wife Abigail, has decided to cut ties with Harvard over its reaction to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. According to the New York Post, the Wexner Foundation wrote to Harvard’s board Monday to ”formally [end] its financial support” after the school failed to condemn a student body’s statement that held Israel ”entirely responsible” for the violence.
In a letter, the organization said that it would be cutting off its financial and programmatic relationship with Harvard and the Harvard Kennedy School.
”We are stunned and sickened at the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians by terrorists last Saturday, the Sabbath and a festival day,” Wexner Foundation letter reads.
Wexner Foundation cuts ties with @Harvard, saying:
“We are stunned and sickened at the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians by terrorists last Saturday.” pic.twitter.com/eYhuPtSVuB
— Dr. Eli David (@DrEliDavid) October 16, 2023
“Harvard’s leaders were indeed tiptoeing, equivocating, and we, like former Harvard President Larry Summers cannot ‘fathom the administration’s failure to disassociate the university and condemn the statement’ swiftly issued by 34 student groups holding Israel entirely responsible for the violent terror attack on its own citizens,” the letter further reads.
”In the absence of this clear moral stand, we have determined that the Harvard Kennedy School and the Wexner Foundation are no longer compatible partners. Our core values and those of Harvard no longer align,” the letter concluded.
Notably, The Wexner Foundation supports up to 10 government and public service professionals from Israel each year to pursue a one-year degree from the Harvard Kennedy School. The Wexners’ fortune is estimated to be $6 billion, according to Forbes
Last week, Idan Ofer, an Israeli shipping tycoon with a multi-billion-dollar fortune, and his wife Batia also stepped down from their roles as board members at Harvard’s Kennedy School. 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.”
Contents of 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 Hamas attacks.
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.