The shocking paroxysms of support from American college and university young adults for Hamas that erupted following their savage attacks on Israelis on October 7 – and the equally appalling indifference shown by school administrators to those outrages – has caused many Jewish megadonors to withdraw their financial support from the schools of the offending students. While we believe that pulling their financial support is certainly one reasonable response to the problem, we suggest that they consider another one. It’s time for them to leverage their largesse in the interests of the hapless Jewish students who have become targets of convenience on our nation’s campuses.
The Jewish community has long reveled in the fact that Jewish donors are recognized as the most giving segment of Americans when it came to higher education. Indeed, as a recent Jerusalem Post editorial has noted, there are few major American college campuses on which there are not buildings, academic chairs, scholarships or programs bearing Jewish names.
Yet, as The Post pointed out, for years those very same campuses have been the scene of systemic intimidation of Jewish students and suppression of programming dedicated to Jewish issues by Muslim and black activists. There have been countless stories of professors bullying, threatening and mocking their Jewish students. Curricula and reading lists were skewed and twisted to provide misleading and false information about Israel and the Jewish role in history and about which no dissent by Jewish students was tolerated.
Faculty bodies and student governments passed resolutions in support of BDS. Anti-Israel groups, speakers, and events were invited on campus and received university or college funding. And antisemitic vandalism targeting Hillel Jewish student centers with large Jewish populations was a regular occurrence.
All of the above is not anecdotal and took place while the checks kept coming and within sight of the edifices with the Jewish donors’ names emblazoned on their facades.
So, it appears that the traditional, “brick and mortar” business model of the big donors – that is give the money for campus edifices and hope that the school administrators do the right thing with the money – needs to be rethought. According to the Wall Street Journal, Penn State Alumnus Marc Rowan, the chief executive of Apollo Global management, who has donated over $50 million to Penn, is pointing to a new way going forward.
Rowan told The Journal that he won’t be donating any more unless University President Liz Magill steps down. He said that her weak response to the Hamas assault stands in sharp contrast to the university’s strong condemnations of the killing of George Floyd and the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade. He said he was also especially disturbed by the fact that she chose to write about her dog on Instagram the weekend of the attack.
So we rather think that it is time for the donors to engage in the kind of serious due diligence that enabled them to make their money in the first place. They should seek out guidance on how to best protect embattled Jewish students and equip them to counter the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes now so embedded in our colleges and universities. After all, this is where the views of America’s future leaders are being shaped.