Patriots owner Robert Kraft ‘not comfortable supporting’ Columbia amid pro-Palestinian protests

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft says he’s “not comfortable” supporting Columbia University, his alma mater, due to continuing pro-Palestinian protests at the Ivy League school as tensions continue to grow over Israel’s war in Gaza.

Last week, police arrested more than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators at Columbia who had set up an encampment on the New York City campus. On Monday, the university canceled in-person classes.

“To deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps, I am announcing that all classes will be held virtually on Monday,” Columbia President Minouche Shafik said in a note to the school community.

Kraft, a 1963 graduate of Columbia, played football for the Lions for three seasons, from 1959 to 1961,

In response to the ongoing protests, Kraft said Monday in a statement that Columbia “is no longer an institution I recognize.”

“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. 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,” said Kraft, who is also the founder of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. “I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country. 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 added, “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.”

Located on the campus of Columbia is The Kraft Center, which houses all aspects of Jewish life. Kraft says he hopes the building will serve as a source of security for all Jewish students and faculty who want to “gather peacefully to practice their religion, to be together, and to be welcomed.”

Dozens of protesters on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, were also arrested.

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