Who is the mystery donor who snubbed Columbia with a $260 million gift to an Israeli university? - Hindustan Times
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Who is the mystery donor who snubbed Columbia with a $260 million gift to an Israeli university?

ByNikhita Mehta
Jun 04, 2024 11:39 AM IST

“It’s a smack in the face of Columbia. It’s just the beginning,” Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime political consultant, pro-Israel activist, and rabbi, told The Post.

An Ivy League graduate has affronted his alma mater, Columbia University, by donating an astounding $260 million of his fortune in secret to Bar-Ilan, one of Israel's largest universities.

Columbia alum donates $260 million gift to an Israeli university amid anti-Israel and antisemitic demonstrations in campus.(AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah, File)(AP)
Columbia alum donates $260 million gift to an Israeli university amid anti-Israel and antisemitic demonstrations in campus.(AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah, File)(AP)

The public research university is best suited, according to the donor, as he sees Bar-Ilan as "best able to undertake the great task of expanding science-based technological resilience in Israel."

Also Read: Columbia University student's mic ‘cut-off’ during anti-Israel rant at commencement ceremony

Who is the donor and what were his motives?

Bar-Ilan, the Israeli university receiving the gift described the philanthropist as a “North American Jew and graduate of Columbia University who was active in World War II.”

The donor, while wishing to remain anonymous, wanted it to be known that he was a Columbia graduate.

Rumours that the Columbia alum had been upset by the anti-Israel and antisemitic demonstrations that have erupted at the uptown Ivy League campus in the midst of the Israel-Hamas conflict were fuelled by the alum's substantial donation to a major academic institution in the Jewish state.

“It’s a smack in the face of Columbia. It’s just the beginning,” Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime political consultant, pro-Israel activist, and rabbi, told The Post.

The website eJewishPhilanthropy.com reported the news. The donation has also started a game of guessing who the extraordinarily wealthy contributor is. Given that he participated in World War II, he would be about 100 years old.

“The donor, a man of broad academic education, believed that the development of Israel’s technological resilience relies primarily on breakthrough science. During his visits to Israel, he recognized the significant impact Bar-Ilan University has made in key areas thanks to its science-based infrastructure and deep connections to all sectors of Israeli society,” Bar-Ilan president Arie Zaban said in a statement announcing the donation.

He claimed that the money will be utilised to advance the "deep tech" sciences and will "positively influence the future of Israel and humanity."

Since the passing of the influential hedge fund tycoon, this is one of the biggest donations made to a university. $500 million was presented to Stony Brook University, a public university within the SUNY system, by James Simons and his wife Marilyn Simons last year. However, James Simons died last month.

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