Columbia Graduate Donates $260 Million to Israeli University Amid Global Protests Against Gaza War

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Jun 10, 2024

student graduating from university

An anonymous American philanthropist and graduate of Columbia University has donated a total of $260 million to Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, the university’s president, Arie Zaban, said.

As NBC News reported, the Israeli university said in a statement that the donor is a North American Jew who had graduated from Columbia University and served during the Second World War.

“He saw Israel as a safe haven for the Jewish people and was committed to its economic and social stability. He chose Bar-Ilan University as the research institution best able to undertake the great task of expanding science-based technological resilience in Israel,” the statement said.

The news comes amid a wave of student protests around the world against Israel’s war on Gaza, where over 37,000 Palestinians have been killed, and 1,139 people have been reported killed in Israel, reports.

According to Zaban, the donor, after visiting Israel several times, had the chance to observe the college’s scientific research. Bar-Ilan University was established in 1955, and it’s one of the largest public research universities in Tel Aviv, Israel, with about 19,000 students. Over 1,300 academic staff are working at the university.

College campuses became the centers of protests against the war in Gaza worldwide, with students calling on their institutions to cut financial ties with Israel or companies, which, according to them, are complicit in this war.

A study of 553 US campus protests nationwide conducted between mid-April and May found that 97 percent of student protests in support of Palestine have been peaceful.

According to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (Acled), fewer than 20 protests resulted in violence or property damage. Within the same period, the analysis showed that police forcefully intervened in at least 70 cases to end campus protests.

About half of the protests on campuses that were reported as violent involved cases of protesters fighting with police as the latter intervened to remove protesters.

Columbia University became the main driving force behind student activism in the United States on Wednesday, April 17 after a small group of students set up tents at the Ivy League school. Their demand includes the university cutting ties with companies in Israel, which as they say, support the war.

The school called the police the following day (April 18) to end the encampment, which resulted in the arrest of more than 100 protesters.

Last week, a group of 50 pro-Palestinian protesters established a new encampment in front of Los Angeles City Hall, which the police cleared overnight. Protesters set up about 21 tents on sidewalks outside the downtown building last Monday, June 3.

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