David Magerman ends donations to UPenn over antisemitism

 October 18, 2023

College leftists' actions at UPenn have lead to significant financial repercussions due to perceived antisemitism.

CNN reported that in a recent turn of events, venture capitalist David Magerman has decided to halt his financial contributions to the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). This decision comes in the wake of perceived antisemitic sentiments on campus.

Major donors pull back support

David Magerman isn't the only one expressing concern. Hedge fund billionaire Cliff Asness, another significant UPenn benefactor, has also paused his donations. The primary cause of this withdrawal seems to be the university's perceived inadequate response to a recent Palestine Writes Literature Festival. This event, held on the UPenn campus, allegedly featured speakers known for making antisemitic remarks.

While UPenn leaders did acknowledge the presence of such speakers, many believe their condemnation of antisemitism wasn't direct or strong enough. This sentiment intensified after the recent Hamas attack on Israel, leading to increased scrutiny of the university's stance on antisemitism.

Magerman, an alumnus of UPenn and a key figure in the hedge fund industry, expressed his disappointment in a letter addressed to UPenn's leadership. In it, he criticized UPenn President Liz Magill's decision to host the festival and her initial response to the attacks on Israel.

Strong words from a concerned alumnus

"I am deeply ashamed of my association with the University of Pennsylvania. I refuse to donate another dollar to Penn."

These were the words of Magerman in his letter to the university's leadership. He further emphasized the significant role Jews have played in UPenn's history and legacy. However, he firmly believes that no self-respecting Jewish individual should support an institution that, in his view, backs malevolence.

Cliff Asness, in a separate communication, echoed similar sentiments. He expressed his concerns about the university's response to the festival, the Hamas attacks, and a perceived decline in genuine freedom of thought and expression at UPenn.

Both Magerman and Asness join a growing list of high-profile UPenn donors, including billionaire Marc Rowan and former US Ambassador Jon Huntsman, who have decided to withhold their financial support. Another influential donor, billionaire Ronald Lauder, has hinted at doing the same unless more robust measures against antisemitism are implemented.

Organizers defend the festival

Despite the backlash, organizers of the Palestine Writes festival have denied any endorsement of antisemitism. Susan Abulhawa, the festival's executive director, stated that the event aimed to celebrate Palestinian culture and literature.

Magerman, however, feels that a mere change in leadership wouldn't suffice. He believes that UPenn's moral foundation needs a complete overhaul. He hopes that all self-respecting Jews and morally upright global citizens will distance themselves from the institution.

In response to the growing concerns, UPenn's President Magill emphasized the university's commitment to combating antisemitism. She assured that the school is taking steps to educate its community to recognize and reject all forms of hate.

Community reactions vary

Interestingly, not everyone in the UPenn Jewish community shares the same view. A letter published in The Daily Pennsylvanian, UPenn's student newspaper, expressed enthusiasm for the Palestine Writes Literature Festival. The letter, penned by several Jewish community members, praised the event for celebrating Palestinian literary traditions.

However, these members also criticized President Magill's statement condemning antisemitism. They felt that her words could potentially endanger students and suppress free expression on campus.

The ongoing debate, stemming from an event that occurred before the Hamas attacks on Israel, highlights the challenges university leaders face. They must strike a balance between upholding freedom of speech and combating hate speech, especially in sensitive matters like antisemitism.


  • David Magerman and other major donors halt donations to UPenn due to perceived antisemitism.
  • The Palestine Writes Literature Festival and its alleged antisemitic speakers are at the center of the controversy.
  • UPenn's leadership faces criticism for its perceived inadequate response to the festival and the Hamas attacks on Israel.
  • While some in the UPenn Jewish community support the festival, others feel the university's response has been lacking.
  • The situation underscores the challenges universities face in balancing freedom of speech with combating hate speech.

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