Wexner Foundation says it paid Barak $2 m. for Palestinian conflict study

The foundation said in a statement that Epstein held an administrative role that was confined to transferring money from the Jeffrey Wexner family to the foundation.

Ehud Barak (photo credit: CORINNA KERN/REUTERS)
Ehud Barak
(photo credit: CORINNA KERN/REUTERS)
After a year of attacks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair, the Wexner Foundation responded Thursday and claimed that Jeffrey Epstein, a former business associate of Leslie Wexner, did not play a significant role or contribute any money to the non-profit organization.
The foundation said in a statement that Epstein held an administrative role that was confined to transferring money from the Wexner family to the foundation. He filled this role from 1992 until 2007 when the family cut off ties after the state attorney drafted its indictment against him.
One of the Wexner Foundation’s programs is the Israel Fellowship which each year sends 10 outstanding public sector directors and leaders from Israel for Master in Public Administration degree at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Netanyahu’s attacks on the foundation have been viewed as an attempt to undermine its graduates, many of whom serve in high-ranking public service positions including in the Justice Ministry and the State Prosecutor’s Office now trying his father for bribery in the Jerusalem District Court. Graduates include IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, newly-appointed Health Ministry Director General Prof. Hezi Levi and former head of Military Intelligence retired general Amos Yadlin.
Last July, for example, Yair Netanyahu tweeted to the US attorney’s office in New York: “Hi guys please check his connections to Wexner institute registered in Ohio. Also @barak_ehud might be an interest for your investigation I’m sure he got some interesting information.”
In another tweet, he called on journalists in the US to investigate the Wexner Foundation’s activities in Israel and its connections to Epstein and former prime minister Ehud Barak.
Epstein was a trustee of the foundation, which has given hundreds of millions of dollars to Jewish organizations in the United States and Israel, from 1992 to 2007. He was also a money manager and legal representative during that time for Leslie Wexner, the foundation’s benefactor.
The foundation also took on allegations promoted by the prime minister regarding payments Wexner made to Barak and to explain why he received over $2 million from the Wexner Foundation in 2004 for what was described as a research program. At the time, Epstein was among the foundation’s trustees. Barak was not serving in office at the time.
It said that Barak, a former prime minister, was commissioned to write two studies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and leadership. He submitted the first study of 267 pages and a summary of the second study. The foundation leadership in the US decided to pay Barak just over $2 million for both studies and reported the payment in its IRS filings.