Billionaires led by Robert Kraft stop cash for Columbia and call anti-Israeli mob ‘f—ing crazy’

Billionaires led by Robert Kraft stop cash for Columbia and call anti-Israeli mob ‘f—ing crazy’

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Columbia University faced a wave of fury over antisemitism on campus from billionaire donors Monday — with one calling pro-Palestinian mobs on the campus “f—ing crazy.”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a Columbia graduate, said he was stopping donations immediately and charged the college with failing to keep its Jewish students safe.

Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman, a business school graduate, said he would stick with a stop on donations which began shortly after the October 7 Hamas massacres.

At Columbia University, pro-Hamas sentiment has spooked donors. Seth Harrison / USA TODAY NETWORK
Robert Kraft has given millions to Columbia and has created a Jewish Center for students. On Monday, he said he was no longer comfortable supporting the school. Getty Images

Sources told The Post that other billionaires, including industrialist Len Blavatnik may also consider pulling back as the campus is rocked by pro-Hamas protests which have left Jewish students traumatized.

“Columbia University’s leadership must take immediate steps to ensure that Jewish students are protected from threats and intimidation, and that those who violate their policies are held to account,”  Blavatnik, the founder of Access Industries, told The Post.

Cooperman, Blavatnik, and Kraft have donated nearly $100 million in total to Columbia, according to some estimates — money that has created multiple buildings on campus, scholarships for engineers, and a center for Jewish students.

None of the donors has so far called publicly for the president, Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, to be replaced, even as she faced pressure from Republican members of Congress led by Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking member of the House majority, and from the Columbia Jewish Alumni Association to go. 

“Donors aren’t issuing an ultimatum, it’s just that they aren’t writing checks anymore,” another source with knowledge of the university’s finances said.

Leon Cooperman said the university president doesn’t need to be replaced and that the school needs to “stop hiring these left wing professors that fill kids with hate.”  The Washington Post via Getty Images

The spectacle of students building a mass encampment of tents at the center of campus, shouting pro-Hamas slogans and abusing Jewish students enraged Cooperman, the Omega Advisors founder, whose parents immigrated from Poland. 

He told CNN, “These kids are f***ing crazy. They don’t understand what they’re doing or what they’re talking about.”

He told The Post that he had spoken directly to Shakfik and told her, “Stop hiring these left wing professors that fill kids with hate.” 

“I don’t think the issue is that she needs to be replaced. She hasn’t even been there a year,” Cooperman said. 

Jewish students said they had been left in fear by the mushrooming protests. Donors said they are furious and one called the students taking part in the anti-Israel camp “f—ing crazy.” James Keivom

But he added, “This diversity, equity and inclusion is all bulls–t.” 

On Monday, Kraft posted to X and Instagram that he was pulling donations for the school, “I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country.

“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.”

Billionaires aren’t the only donors pulling back, sources told The Post. 

The school’s “annual fund” which covers the cost of scholarships, student life, and internships said participation among donors is down 25% to 30% this year as a result of the school’s inability to make Jewish students feel safe on campus, a source with direct knowledge told The Post.

This is how Kraft announced his decision to stop donating.

“Beginning Oct. 7 it was pencils down — and wait and see the response from leadership,” a source with direct knowledge of university donations told The Post.

“It’s a real hit to their bottom line.”

Others who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they were confident members of the board of trustees, to which the president reports, was pushing her for stronger action against antisemitism.

“Since we have friends and allies on the board the tactic is to be less adversarial and more partners,” one source said. 

Sources among donors told The Post that they backed Shafik’s decision to call in the NPYD Friday to remove a pro-Palestinian encampment but said that her decision to make classes remote Monday after fresh anti-Israel protests was capitulating to a mob. 

A student places a Palestinian flag at an entrance gate to Columbia on Monday. Seth Harrison / USA TODAY NETWORK

Columbia did not respond to a request for comment.

Shafik was backed by Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, but he called on other donors to speak out against antisemitism on campus.

“Alumni shouldn’t doubt the power of their voice — I saw this at Penn and Harvard because they speak with a level of credibility and insight,” he told The Post. 

“I’d like to see donors and alumni step up and speak out and make sure the school understands that this won’t be tolerated.”

Columbia’s campus has been filled with protestors — some who are chanting that they support Hamas. Rikki Schlott
Donots say they are backing Columbia’s president — for now — but are furious at the anti-Israel protests on the campus. Rikki Schlott for NY Post

Rabbi David Ingber, senior director for Jewish Life and Senior Director of the Bronfman Center at 92NY told The Post he wanted other donors to stop giving until Jewish students feel safe.

“Business leaders have a tremendous moral responsibility. It’s not a moment for them to hide,” he said. 

“Hopefully others will follow suit after Kraft’s statement.”

Lydia Moynihan

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