The Prime Minister’s Office announced on Wednesday that it is freezing cooperation with the controversial Wexner Foundation amid allegations of left-wing bias.
The announcement came during a session of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which convened on Wednesday at the behest of Likud MK Dr. Shlomo Karhi and the Zionist watchdog group Im Tirtzu to discuss the government’s cooperation with the Wexner Foundation.
The family foundation of American billionaire Leslie Wexner, the Wexner Foundation funds an all-expenses-paid prestigious training program for senior members of Israel’s public service at Harvard University.
Graduates of the program include high-ranking members of Israel’s judiciary, military and other branches of public service, including Supreme Court Justice Uzi Vogelman, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Strategic Affairs Minister (Blue and White) Orit Farkash-Hacohen, and senior State Attorney’s Office official Osnat Mandel.
The Foundation has come under fire in recent years over allegations that the program is being used to inculcate its participants with a left-wing ideology.
This theory was reinforced by a discovery that the Foundation paid $2.3 million to former Labor party Prime Minister Ehud Barak from 2004 – 2006 to conduct two unpublished “studies,” one of which was not completed.
Reports also revealed that convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein served as a trustee of the foundation from 1992 until 2007. According to an exposé by the New York Times, Epstein held “an unusually strong hold on Mr. Wexner.”
In July 2019, the Daily Mail published a photograph of a masked Barak entering Epstein’s estate in New York City in 2016.
MK Karhi accused the Wexner Foundation of holding a political bias and of “poisoning the minds” of the participants.
“My goal is that the State of Israel and each of its authorities will not send civil servants into the unknown, to a foreign foundation with undemocratic and even anarchistic influence,” said Karhi.
During the hearing, Im Tirtzu announced that it submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice against the Wexner Foundation’s program, alleging that the all-expenses-paid program is in violation of Israel’s Gift Law.
“The Wexner Israel Fellowship has a sharp left-wing bias and encourages public officials to undermine the orders of the ministers,” said Attorney Ziv Maor, a member of Im Tirtzu’s Legal Division.
“The cooperation between the government and the Foundation is illegal because it provides public servants with gifts amounting to millions of shekels in violation of the Gift Law. After more than 30 years of this program, the time has come to put an end to it.”