Patriots owner Robert Kraft says he’s ‘not comfortable’ donating to Columbia amid protests

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft signaled Monday he will no longer donate to Columbia University as pro-Palestinian protests continue at his alma mater for the sixth day.

In a statement issued through his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, Kraft said he is “deeply saddened at the virulent hate” at Columbia and other schools across the nation.

“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,” Kraft wrote. “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 many of us who have lost faith in the institution.”

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have lasted six days at Columbia University, where more than 100 student protesters have been arrested and charged with trespassing. The protesters are calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, along with a halt in U.S. military aid to Israel.

Columbia leadership authorized the New York Police Department to arrest students involved in the protests and informed students they would also be suspended from school.

The arrests appear to have done little to quell the protests, with demonstrations expanding in recent days in the wake of opposition. Similar protests also broke out at other college campuses in recent days.

Concerns were raised over the safety of Jewish students at Columbia, prompting the university to move classes online starting Monday. The announcement came hours before the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

An uptick in antisemitism has been reported in recent months following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, though a significant portion of the protesting students are Jewish. Several protest groups have pushed back against characterizations of their demonstrations as antisemitic.

Kraft, who was raised in Brookline, Mass., in an observant Orthodox Jewish family, said he hopes The Kraft Center at Columbia can serve as “source of security and safety” for all Jewish students and faculty on campus.

The start of the protest encampments began last Wednesday, the same day Columbia president Minouche Shafik testified before the House Education Committee about campus antisemitism.

Her testimony, along with her order for arrests, has prompted calls from politicians of both parties to rein in the protests and resign from her post.

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