One of Israel's richest men and his wife stepped down from a Harvard board, saying their faith in the school's leadership had been 'broken' over its response to the Hamas attacks

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  • Idan Ofer, one of Israel's richest people, and his wife, have left the board of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

  • They attributed their departure to the Ivy League college's response to Hamas' attacks on Israel.

  • "Our faith in the University's leadership has been broken," Idan and Batia Ofer said in a statement.

An Israeli billionaire businessman and his wife stepped down from their positions on a Harvard University board over the school's response to the Hamas terror attacks on Israel.

Idan Ofer, who owns Quantum Pacific Group, is the world's 81st-richest person, with a net worth of $19.9 billion, per estimates by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

He's the second-richest person from Israel, per Bloomberg's estimates, behind his brother Eyal Ofer, who is worth around $21.4 billion. Bloomberg's Billionaires Index lists Eyal Ofer as being from Monaco, though he was born in Israel.

Idan Ofer and his wife, Batia Ofer, sat on the executive board of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. They funded a fellowship for Israeli and Palestinian students to study at the school and a building named after them opened on campus in 2017.

But the Ofers are now no longer listed as members of the board on the school's website. They also withdrew a multi-million dollar donation that they planned to make, Hebrew-language news site The Marker reported.

Harvard has been embroiled in controversy after a group of student organizations released a statement saying that they held the Israeli regime "entirely responsible" for the violence unfolding in the region.

Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a series of terrorist attacks on Israel on October 7, leading to retaliatory attacks from Israel, including what a UN agency called "almost uninterrupted" bombardments.

As of Sunday, at least 1,300 people have been killed and more than 3,700 injured in Israel, per official Israeli sources cited by the UN. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says that in Gaza, 2,670 Palestinians have been killed and 9,600 injured since the violence erupted.

The Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups released a joint statement on October 8 blaming Israel for the attacks by Hamas, triggering a huge amount of backlash and accusations of antisemitism.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman called on Harvard University to release the names of students who are members of the groups so that companies don't "inadvertently" hire them. Other CEOs and investors have followed suit.

Harvard has struggled to navigate its response to the student groups' statement. In a video on Thursday, Harvard President Claudine Gay said that the university rejects terrorism. But she said that Harvard also rejects harassment and intimidation based on people's beliefs and "embraces" a commitment to free expression, including "views that many of us find objectionable, even outrageous."

"We do not punish or sanction people for expressing such views," Gay said. "But that is a far cry from endorsing them."

Some believe Harvard is not taking enough action against the students whose groups signed the statement.

"Unfortunately, our faith in the University's leadership has been broken and we cannot in good faith continue to support Harvard and its committees," the Ofers said in a statement sent to multiple publications including CNN.

The Ofers said that their decision to leave the board "has been precipitated by the lack of clear evidence of support from the University's leadership for the people of Israel following the tragic events of the past week, coupled with their apparent unwillingness to recognize Hamas for what it is, a terrorist organization," per CNN.

"With so much disinformation being spread by social media it is essential that the world's great institutions speak with a clear and unequivocal voice at this critical time," the Ofers added.

Correction: October 18, 2023 – An earlier version of this article incorrectly named Harvard University's president. Her name is Claudine Gay, not Christine Gay.

Read the original article on Business Insider