Michael Steinhardt, Co-Founder of Birthright, Removed from Hillel Board, Accused of Serial Sexual Abuse
Michael Steinhardt, the former Wall Street hedge fund manager and co-founder of Birthright, has been removed from the Hillel International board of governors after being accused by two female staff members of sexual harassment. Hillel also announced it would not apply for a Steinhardt Foundation $50,000 grant this year.
Hillel knew about these charges against Steinhardt going all the way back to 2015. But only after the #MeToo movement gathered steam did groups like Hillel realize they couldn’t continue sweeping the peccadillos of brutal executives and donors under the rug. No doubt, they delayed taking action because billionaire donors don’t grow on trees. And much can be forgiven when your donations are in the seven or eight-figures. Someone ought to ask Eric Fingerhut, with his $500,000 (2016) annual salary what he’s been doing all these years. The Jewish college non-profit is pursuing an independent investigation of the incidents using an outside law firm.
Jewish Week also detailed a number of other serious allegations against Steinhardt by female art consultants and gallery staff who accused him of similarly outrageous sexual innuendo, including a demand that she go to a hotel and have sex with an Orthodox rabbi. There were also requests that some of the women have sex with him. Steinhardt’s defense seems to be that he routinely speaks this way to women and that his remarks should be seen in the light-hearted manner in which he intended them. In one incident, he told one of the victims he wished we could return to the 14th or 15th century when women didn’t make such problems.
It’s no surprise that Steinhardt’s attitude toward women infected Birthright as well, with its hypersexualized environment encouraging “hook-ups” between single young men and women. The supposed intent was to foster Jewish families and the Jewish future by commencing the coupling on a Birthright trip in the Jewish homeland. Steinhardt has contributed $25-million overall to this group.
He is also a major donor to a number of other major American Jewish institutions. The Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University features his name. It also, not unsurprisingly, regularly publishes academic reports touting the wonders of the Birthright program as guarantor of Jewish survival. A conflict of interest if ever there was one, tarnishing whatever credibility the social science research may’ve had. Steinhardt has also endowed a research center at NYU. One wonders how these institutions will react to the news that their philanthropic sugar daddy is accused of being a perv.
WATCH Birthright founder Michael Steinhardt give the middle finger to @jvplive members protesting the @birthright trip in NYC https://t.co/SxEbNDLaWz
— Mairav Zonszein (@MairavZ) April 16, 2018
I jocularly have taken to calling him Mike “The Finger” Steinhardt after he showed his displeasure with Jewish Voice for Peace members protesting outside a Birthright fundraising gala by lifting his hand and delivering a “middle finger salute.” He also called the demonstrators “stupid left-wing Jews.” I guess we should be thankful–at least he didn’t call ’em “worse than kapos.”
Coming out of Wall Street’s toxic male culture, it’s no surprise Steinhardt would exhibit these attitudes toward women. However, the Jewish communal world is somewhat more genteel and female communal workers are perhaps a bit more “educated” and enlightened in this #MeToo era. They don’t take as kindly to it as in the confines of the money pits of Wall Street.
As I wrote a few days ago about another accused Likudist sex offender, David Keyes, though there are only a handful of female victims at this point, the number is almost certain to balloon as soon as the news spread and sinks is. Victims don’t necessarily want to come forward alone. But there is strength and courage in numbers. The floodgates I’m certain will open.
Steinhardt is a particularly egregious example of the Jewish male ego run rampant. He’s known for his imperiousness and for his ardent advocacy on Israel’s behalf. His politics are full-blown Likudist. He also likes to boast that the home he bought in west Jerusalem’s Talbiya neighborhood was once owned by Martin Buber, founder of the Brit Shalom movement. However, what Steinhardt neglects to mention is that this home was given to Buber after 1948 by the State. He determined that the previous Palestinian owner had “left for Turkey.” Which of course means it’s likely the owners were expelled during Nakba. So, in effect, Steinhardt is living in and on stolen Palestinian property.
This sort of moral obtuseness is characteristic of the white male Neanderthal culture of the Jewish communal élite. They’re rich, they’re ostentatious, they’re egotistical, they’re right (in both senses of the word), and by God you’re gonna know it. They don’t brook discussion or debate. They know what’s right. They don’t need to hear from others with opposing views. And that, in short, is the tragedy of American Jewry. I wrote a chapter for a book published last year, whose title (the chapter) was, The Closing of the American Jewish Mind. Steinhardt is a perfect exemplar of the phenomenon.
12 thoughts on “Michael Steinhardt, Co-Founder of Birthright, Removed from Hillel Board, Accused of Serial Sexual Abuse – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Your headline screams, ‘sexual abuse’, but Hillel tones things down and calls it ‘sexual harassment’.
Later on in your article, Steinhardt’s comments become mere, ‘outrageous sexual innuendo’; but, the victims now have attorneys, so everything will be okay in the end.
These allegations are risible and tend to minimize recent, bona fide sexual abuse claims like those levelled at that creep, David Keyes.
We can only guess at what your mental state will be when you turn seventy-seven years old.
@ Li Hing Lo: YOu do read don’t you? What parts of the article to which I linked permit you not to call this jackass a disgusting pervert on an ego trip? He told an art consultant that he’d buy a piece of art from her if she went to a hotel to have sex with an Orthodox rabbi? Then she suggested to the rabbi that he place his penis inside the mask, the piece of art she’d hoped to sell to him. In what world is that “innuendo?” If it is in your world you’re living in 1950 perhaps, while this is 2018.
As for comparing Steinhardt and Keyes: is it your argument that since Steinhardt didn’t fuck anyone (that we know of so far–this is the first time I’ve ever used this word in this blog and I only do so to emphasize the outrageousness of Steinhardt’s behavior)) that he’s only a minor irritant, while Keyes, who did, is a real sexaul predator. Because if that’s anything close to your argument it doesn’t wash. What Steinhardt did is outrageous and constitutes genuine sexual abuse/harassment, whatever you choose to call it.
And these are only the two stories we know. This does not include the stories of the Hillel staffers who were harassed, nor the future women who will undoubtedly pour forth.
Further, trust me a non profit like Hillel doesn’t expel a billionaire donor from its board of governors and stop taking his money unless something very bad and very wrong happened. THey don’t do this merely due to sexual innuendo. If you wish to stand there with your head up your ass on this one, be my guest. The rest of us are older and wiser.
Why does it always happen when a women is a rape victim, along comes an idiot male with the clueless proposition that “it wasn’t so bad” or “why are you ganging up on the poor guy” or “what if she’s lying and he’s innocent?” It never fails. Idiots like this come along and talk trash. Like clockwork. As for my mental state at 77, I can assure you I will not be demanding women have sex with Orthodox rabbis if I live to be 97!! Age is no excuse for being a pervert.
” In what world is that “innuendo?””
You came up with the term “outrageous sexual innuendo”, not me.
I don’t know what you meant, but ‘outrageous sexual innuendo’ sounds less egregious than the felonies and misdemeanours like sexual abuse and sexual harassment.
@ Li Hing Lo: You added the word “mere” to “outrageous sexual innuendo.” That phrase does not merit your addition. There is nothing “mere” about it. And outrageous sexual innuendo by someone who is superior to you or your boss or in any such position is still sexual harassment and still illegal contrary to your mistaken view. And it IS egregious as the examples in the news article show.
You are done in this thread.
I will never be able to look at a mask again in the same way… I had to go to the link to believe what you wrote. You cannot make this up!
@Elisabeth: when I saw him use the Yiddish word ‘schmeckle’ (for penis) it almost made me sick to my to my stomach. And talking to an Orthodox rabbi no less! There’s a lot of anger and hate in this guy.
I only now realize that the word must be related to Dutch ‘snikkel’, a loanword from Jiddisch.
@Elisabeth: Since Yiddish derives largely from medieval German, the original word provably comes from that period.
“It’s no surprise that Steinhardt’s attitude toward women infected Birthright as well, with its hypersexualized environment encouraging “hook-ups” between single young men and women.”
“This sort of moral obtuseness is characteristic of the white male Neanderthal culture of the Jewish communal élite. They’re rich, they’re ostentatious, they’re egotistical, they’re right (in both senses of the word), and by God you’re gonna know it. They don’t brook discussion or debate. They know what’s right. They don’t need to hear from others with opposing views. And that, in short, is the tragedy of American Jewry.”
Unfortunately, one late billionaire donor to such Birthright programs care of his brother Charles, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., had a daughter who ran that infamous Nxium sex cult out of Hollywood as well.
The right will bark at this removal as “an attack on Birthright” instead of admiring those brave women for standing up to him.
Women are invisible, perhaps a tradition meant to be broken: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/comforting-dina/
The NY Times has an extensive front-page story today about this perv and art thief.