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Ben Gvir bars government employees from Harvard's 'left-wing' program

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Police Commander Yoram Sofer present a new proposal to eradicate crime in the Arab sector, in Jerusalem, August 17, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Harvard University fellowship program for Israeli civil servants will soon be off-limits to government employees such as police officers, firefighters and prison officials.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir announced on Monday that he was barring employees under his supervision from participating in the program because its funder, the Wexner Foundation, is “left-wing” and because of its “involvement and cooperation with distinctly left-wing groups like Breaking the Silence.”

In response, the Wexner Foundation said its organization was unbiased.  

“We are not now nor have we ever been associated with any political party or ‘movement,’” said a spokesperson for Wexner, which is based in Ohio.

The Wexner Foundation claims to “develop and inspire leaders in the North American Jewish Community and the State of Israel” through “pluralistic, cohort-based educational programs.”

The foundation also states that it works “in partnership with other foundations, philanthropists, and organizations…to the development of a robust, meaningful, and diverse North American Jewish community and a professional, networked, and collaborative civil service in the State of Israel.” 

In addition, it offers scholarships to Israeli officials at the Ivy League university's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The Wexner Foundation is sponsored by Les Wexner, an American Jewish billionaire who is behind brands Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works and others. It has been facing backlash due to the alleged close relationship between Les Wexner and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who later committed suicide.

According to The Jerusalem Post, more than 250 Israelis have graduated from Wexner’s programs, including former Israel Defense Forces Chief Aviv Kochavi and Ami Ayalon, a former head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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