In the summer of 2002, Haifa University awarded a number of honorary doctorates at an impressive ceremony. The center of attention was German Foreign Minister Joschke Fischer. He was followed by another celebrity - David Radler, then the chief operating officer of Hollinger International and publisher of The Jerusalem Post.
In a short speech, Radler said he had no regrets about his decision not to be objective in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "There is no equality between the victims of terrorist attacks and suicide bombers," he said.
The university explained the honor was being conferred on Radler for his contribution to international media and his support for higher education in Israel, Canada and the United States.
Radler is not the first or last rich person to be awarded an honorary doctorate by a reputable academic institution. He donated tens of thousands of dollars to Haifa University to advance higher education. University officials say there is $75,000 in a fund in his name, waiting for suitable use - Hollinger sources say the sum is more than $100,000.
Now Radler and his contribution have come under an embarrassing spotlight. A report filed in a federal court in Chicago this week by a committee set up by the board of directors of Hollinger notes that Radler took at least one third of this sum from The Jerusalem Post's charitable fund.
The newspaper established the fund 70 years ago and collects money from readers for the needy. The fund, the report notes, is supposed to be run separately from the newspaper but Radler "recommended" that money be transferred from the fund to the university. Radler's name alone appears on the donation.
The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday revealed that Tom Rose, recently fired as publisher of the paper, had warned Radler not to do this and told him it was likely to be problematic.
Radler's "donation" is only a small part of the 513-page report that examined the way in Hollinger International's CEO, Lord Conrad Black, and Radler committed "corporate kleptocracy" and "ethical corruption."
The report noted that Radler had done the same to have a new wing in a Jerusalem hospital named for himself and his wife, while Black had acted in similar vein in various North American institutions.
In May, Rose was dismissed from his position after six years of increasingly acrimonious relations with the newspaper's staff. Six months earlier, Black and Radler had been forced to step down after the revelation by minority share holders - Black controlled Hollinger through a series of companies and super voting stock - that the two had squandered tens of millions of dollars for their private use at the expense of the other share holders.
A claim for $200 million has been filed against Black, his wife Barbara Amiel, and other senior Hollinger staff.
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