A high-profile billionaire investor who has donated tens of millions of dollars to colleges like Columbia University over the years railed against college students who continue to protest Israel’s response to Hamas’ October 7 invasion and mass murder.
Leon Cooperman previously paused donations to Columbia after pro-Palestinian walkouts and protests by students last fall.
Cooperman told “The Claman Countdown” Wednesday he wanted to expound upon sentiments from an October 2023 interview on the show where he first made news about his donation decisions.
“I think in that program, I said that the college kids today have s–t for brains. And let me elaborate on why I said that: Number one, I hear that these kids think that we’re talking about the Hudson River or the Nile River. They don’t understand it is the Jordan River,” he said of students chanting the “from the river to the sea” mantra that calls for the eradication of the Jewish State.
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Cooperman said these students must understand that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and that when interest groups hold signs reading “Gays for Palestine,” they must understand that Israel is likely the only Mideast nation where homosexuality is not outlawed or punished.
“The other countries frown on that. Israel accepts them. And if you’re living in Israel, and you’re a Palestinian Arab… you can vote,” he said.
Cooperman contrasted the way Israel has spent foreign aid with that of the Palestinians and Hamas – pointing out Hamas built military tunnels and Israel has used their funds for humanitarian causes and defense.
He said he previously spoke with Columbia University President Minouche Shafik and had a frank discussion about antisemitism on campus. Shafik, Cooperman said, argued that people like a professor who had praised Hamas do not speak for the greater university at-large.
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“She appreciated what I had to say, and she’d take it under advisement,” he said. Cooperman praised other billionaire collegiate donors like Apollo CEO Marc Rowan, who had put pressure on now-former University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and Scott Bok, the board chairman who also resigned over the antisemitism controversy there.
“I’m an activist, and I speak with my money, but I’m not going to tell them how to run this show. It seems to me that it’s very clear what’s got to be done,” Cooperman said.
“There’s no there’s no room for antisemitism in the world. And I believe if you’re an antisemite, you’re ignorant. And I say that with objectivity: Why are you ignorant?”
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Cooperman said Jews make up less than one-quarter of 1% of the global population, but also two-fifths of Nobel laureates.
He said half of the entire Jewish population lives in Israel, while the other half lives either in New York or elsewhere around the world.
“We’ve done a lot for the world in terms of invention and things we’ve done well. There’s no basis for antisemitism,” he said.
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