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Robert Kraft Pulls Funding from Columbia University Amidst Protests




Patriots owner and prominent Jewish activist Robert Kraft issued a statement announcing that he pulled funding Columbia University after the student body erupted in pro-Palestine protests. Kraft donated millions of dollars to the university beginning in 2000 with a $3-million dollar donation to establish the Kraft Center for Jewish Life.


Former Columbia student Kraft earned his degree from Columbia University in 1963 and established himself as a staunch supporter of the school, but he hit his breaking point over the treatment of a professor named Shai Davidai. Davidai joined counter-protests in support of Israel but had his access on campus revoked due to protesting despite other professors protesting for Pro-Palestinian interests.





Kraft is also the head of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, an organization that recently ramped up efforts to raise awareness for the rise in antisemitic acts.


“I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country,” Kraft said in a statement through his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. “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.”


Kraft also condemned the protesters for using masks to hide their identity to prevent any sort of repercussions for statements they might make not covered by the First Amendment.

“I think back when I went to Columbia, the Vietnam war was raging and people spoke out and they paid the consequences, but they were willing to do it. They didn’t wear masks and they had accountability. And now we have to have accountability,” Kraft said.





Kraft’s statement came as students at the university protested demanding that the university condemn the conflict in Gaza and divest in companies that fund military action in the Middle East. Although the particular investment structure of university endowments at private schools is kept from the public due to their nature as private institutions, Columbia’s investment likely means that they are involved in an exchange-traded fund offered by a company like BlackRock that invests in many companies across the board, including companies in the defense sector.


Columbia has a rich history of protesting causes they believe are just dating all the way back to the Vietnam War. Students occupied campus buildings to protest US involvement in the war, staying for a week before police were brought in to clear Hamilton Hall.





In 1984, students occupied some of the same buildings to protest the university’s investment in apartheid South Africa, which was phased out between 1991 and 1994. Later, students protested campus handling of sexual assaults by carrying mattresses through the school. Even today, protest culture remains prevalent at the Ivy League School.


As always, it is important to recognize the First Amendment right to protest and assemble. On the other hand, protests always need to remain peaceful: as the saying goes, “the freedom to swing your fist ends where my face begins”. When everyone exercises their rights to free speech and dissent while respecting other’s freedoms to go about their day unimpeded. 


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