(TheRedWire.com) – Leon Cooperman, a notable graduate of Columbia Business School and the CEO of Omega Advisors has announced his decision to halt financial contributions to Columbia University. This move comes in response to what he perceives as the institution’s inability to manage escalating tensions on campus surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict. Cooperman, a generous donor who contributed an estimated $50 million over the years, expressed his disappointment in a Fox Business interview.
Cooperman criticized the student body for participating in pro-Palestinian protests and questioned the employment of Joseph Massad, a professor specializing in Modern Arab Politics. Massad previously made comments lauding a Hamas attack against Israel, a stance Cooperman finds “utterly disgraceful.”
The controversy isn’t isolated to Columbia University. Academic institutions across the U.S. have been experiencing increased tensions following outbreaks of violence in the Middle East. Harvard University, for instance, saw 31 of its student groups publish an open letter blaming Israel solely for the actions of Hamas, which reportedly resulted in negative consequences for some students.
Acknowledging the heightened campus tensions, Columbia University took unprecedented steps to close its campus to the public before student-organized demonstrations—both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian. University President Minouche Shafik expressed concern for the safety of students, who had been experiencing episodes of antisemitism and Islamophobia.
The controversy escalated when an Israeli student at Columbia was physically assaulted after displaying posters supporting Israel. Shai Davidai, an assistant professor at the university, openly criticized American universities for failing to guarantee student safety.
Opinion remains divided on Professor Massad. While a petition for his removal garnered significant support, organizations like the Middle East Studies Association have come to his defense.
For his part, Cooperman, whose net worth is estimated to be around $2.5 billion, is bewildered by the stance of young protestors. He emphasized that Israel is a unique ally to the United States in the Middle East, being the only democracy in the region tolerant of diverse groups, including LGBTQ+ communities.
The campus tensions and differing opinions reflect the broader complexities of the Israel-Palestine conflict. This issue remains a hotbed of dispute in the geopolitical sphere and within educational institutions in the U.S.
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