The Wexner Foundation, a charitable organization founded by entrepreneur Leslie Wexner, is terminating its collaboration programs with Harvard University. Wexner made this decision due to Harvard's leadership not unequivocally condemning the terrorist attacks by HAMAS on Israel, as reported by Voice of America.
Following the start of the conflict in Israel, several student groups, as well as some Harvard faculty and staff, criticized Israel's actions instead of condemning the brutality of HAMAS militants, who killed hundreds of innocent Israelis. Wexner is outraged that these statements were not curtailed and accused the university's leadership of having a "lack of clear moral standards."
Harvard University President Claudine Gay issued a third statement in recent days, declaring that the university rejects terrorism but also "rejects the persecution and intimidation of individuals based on their beliefs."
Statement by Students On October 10th, The Harvard Crimson, one of the university's student news outlets, reported that more than 30 Harvard student groups had signed a letter attributing "full responsibility" to Israel for "all the ongoing violence" during the conflict. This occurred after HAMAS launched a sudden attack on Israel, resulting in the deaths of over 1,300 people. Since the publication of the letter, many CEOs, business leaders, and a federal judge severed ties with the university, demanded the identification of the signatories, or announced that they would not hire those who signed.
The letter, posted on social media before the scale of the killings became known, did not include the names of individual students. However, in the days that followed, students associated with these groups were identified, and their personal information was posted online. Wall Street leaders demanded a list of names to blacklist them from employment. A truck with a digital billboard, paid for by a conservative group, circled Harvard Yard, displaying photos and names of students under the headline "Harvard's Leading Anti-Semites." Students argue that this campaign is aimed at silencing them.
Critics argue that Harvard responded too slowly and not decisively enough. The university has become a microcosm of the tension seen in higher education institutions across the United States, where sponsors have distanced themselves, and protests have erupted in response to the war.
Campuses have long been grappling with issues of free speech—what can be said and what crosses into hate speech. But the Israel-HAMAS conflict has heightened emotions, threatening to fracture the already fragile culture on university campuses.
Rescinding Job Offers for Students Leading U.S. law firm Davis Polk is rescinding job offers for students from the Ivy League, who signed letters in support of Palestine, according to NBC.
In an internal email, Davis Polk announced that it had barred three law students from Harvard and Columbia universities, who had signed organizational statements about Israel, from joining the firm.
"These statements simply contradict our firm's values. We have concluded that rescinding the job offers was appropriate for our safe and inclusive work environment," the email signed by Neil Barr reads.
A representative from Davis Polk pointed out a statement included in an email: "The opinions expressed in some statements signed by law school student organizations in recent days directly contradict the values of our firm. For this reason, and to continue to maintain a favorable and inclusive working environment, student leaders responsible for signing these statements are no longer welcome at our firm. Their job offers have been rescinded."
Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman wrote on X that he "would like to know" which students signed Harvard's statement "so I know never to hire these people."
"Same here," replied EasyHealth CEO David Duel to Neman.
Exit of a Major Sponsor Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer and his wife Batia are leaving Harvard's executive board in protest of how the university's leaders reacted to terrorist attacks by HAMAS on Israel, as reported by CNN.
"Unfortunately, our faith in the university's leadership has been undermined, and we cannot in good conscience continue to support Harvard and its committees," the couple stated.
Idan Ofer has amassed a fortune estimated at nearly $20 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, where he ranks 80th among Israelis.
"We condemn those who try to blame the people of Israel for the atrocities committed by the terrorist organization HAMAS," the Ofers declared.
Idan Ofer is the son of shipping magnate Sammy Ofer, who was once Israel's richest person and passed away in 2011. He owns a controlling stake in Israel Corp., an energy, shipping, and chemicals conglomerate. He is also a shareholder in Kenon Holdings, a holding company registered in New York.
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"As so much misinformation is spread on social media, it is crucial for great global institutions to speak clearly and unambiguously at this critical time," the couple stated.
Harvard did not comment on the resignation and criticism from the former sponsor. Instead, the university pointed to a video statement made by Harvard President Claudine Gay.
"People have been asking me about our position. So, let me be clear. Our university rejects terrorism, including the barbaric acts committed by HAMAS," Gay said. "Our university rejects hate—hate against Jews, hate against Muslims, hate against any group of people based on their faith, national origin, or any aspect of their identity."
Gay added that Harvard "rejects the persecution or intimidation of individuals based on their beliefs" and "supports a commitment to freedom of expression."
"This commitment extends even to views that many of us find unwelcome and even offensive. We do not punish or sanction individuals for expressing such views," Gay said. "But this is far from an endorsement of them."