New England Patriots Owner, Robert Kraft, Halts Donations to His Alma Mater, Columbia University, Citing Anti-Israel Protests

‘The school I love so much — the one that welcomed me and provided me with so much opportunity — is no longer an institution I recognize,’ he says.

The New York Sun
Anti-Israel protesters at Columbia University, April 18, 2024. The New York Sun

The owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, will no longer donate money to his alma mater, Columbia University, which he has long supported financially. He says the anti-Israel and antisemitic protests happening on campus are unacceptable, and that university leadership has not done enough to deal with the issue. 

Hundreds of students have been camped out on the Columbia lawn since Wednesday, when the president of the university, Minouche Shafik, was testifying before Congress about antisemitic events on campus. At least three students — including Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s daughter — have been suspended for their involvement in the unsanctioned encampment. 

Mr. Kraft says he is “not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken” to deal with the anti-Israel protesters and the antisemitic harassment that has been suffered by students.

“It was through the full academic scholarship Columbia gave me that I was able to attend college and get my start in life and for that I have been tremendously grateful,” Mr. Kraft said in a message posted to X on Wednesday. “However, the school I love so much — the one that welcomed me and provided me with so much opportunity — is no longer an institution I recognize. I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country.”

The billionaire and NFL franchise owner, who is Jewish, grew up at Brookline, Massachusetts, with a dressmaker mother and a father who wanted him to become a rabbi. After making his money in shipping and distributing, Mr. Kraft purchased the Patriots in 1994. 

“It is my hope that Columbia and its leadership will stand up to this hate by ending these protests immediately and will work to earn back the respect and trust of the many of us who have lost faith in the institution,” he said in his Monday message. “It is my hope that in this difficult time, the Kraft Center at Columbia will serve as a source of security and safety for all Jewish students and faculty on campus who want to gather peacefully to practice their religion, to be together, and to be welcomed.”

The protests on Columbia’s campus have garnered national headlines in recent days. On Monday alone, there were at least six members of Congress touring the campus and meeting with Jewish students and leaders about the ongoing demonstration. 

The fourth-ranking House GOP member, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, wrote a letter to the university president on Monday demanding that she step down from her position. “It is time for Columbia University to turn the page on this shameful chapter,” Ms. Stefanik wrote, joined by all New York Republican House members. 

“This can only be done through the restoration of order and your prompt resignation,” the lawmakers said. The letter was first reported by the New York Post. 

“We, the undersigned members, urge you to step down immediately so that someone who will take action against this mob can step up to meet the moment this crisis demands.”

The New York Sun

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