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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Tony Kushner has a tantrum

Tony Kushner is one of those Jews who loves to hate Jews and Israel. In 2006, Brandeis University conferred an honorary doctorate on the anti-Israel playwright, Tony Kushner, whose screenplay for the film Munich was widely condemned by numerous critics as being grossly inaccurate in ways that were hostile to Israel and inappropriately sympathetic to Palestinian terrorists. Kushner has made numerous egregious statements viciously condemning Israel and decrying its very existence, saying on one occasion that Israel’s founding a “mistake,” and that it “it would have been better if Israel never happened.” Kushner has also repeatedly blamed Israel for supposed “ethnic cleaning” and “dispossession” of Palestinians, supported boycotting Israel and attacked Jewish supporters of Israel as “the most repulsive members of the Jewish community.”

Kushner was scheduled to pick up another honorary degree from the City University of New York this month. But CUNY's Board of Trustees met on Monday and decided not to honor the self-hating Jew. Kushner's not getting the honorary degree.
The City University of New York has voted not to honor playwright Tony Kushner with an honorary degree at its commencement after a board member objected, citing the Pulitzer Prize winner's statements on Israel.

The New York Jewish Week reported that the request by CUNY's John Jay College to recognize Kushner was turned down at a board of trustees meeting Monday after board member Jeffrey Wiesenfeld objected. Kushner would have been eligible to speak at the graduation ceremony.

The decision could be the first time in the university system's history that a proposed candidate for an honorary degree has been vetoed, the newspaper reported.
Kushner has gone ballistic. Below is the three-page letter he sent to CUNY's Board of Trustees.

Tony Kushner Letter to CUNY

Originally, this was a story that only concerned the Jewish community. But Kushner's letter has busted it out into the open. The New York Observer, Salon and the New York Times have all picked up the story. This is from the Times:
According to a podcast of the Monday meeting and accounts from two CUNY officials who attended it, one of the 12 trustees present, Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, objected to John Jay College’s submission of Mr. Kushner for an honorary degree. Mr. Wiesenfeld described viewpoints and comments, which he ascribed to Mr. Kushner, that he had found on the Web site of Norman Finkelstein, a political scientist and critic of Israel.

Mr. Wiesenfeld, an investment adviser and onetime aide to former Gov. George E. Pataki and former Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato, said that Mr. Kushner had tied the founding of Israel to a policy of ethnic cleansing, criticized the Israel Defense Forces and supported a boycott of Israel.

“I think it’s up to all of us to look at fairness and consider these things,” Mr. Wiesenfeld said. “Especially when the State of Israel, which is our sole democratic ally in the area, sits in the neighborhood which is almost universally dominated by administrations which are almost universally misogynist, antigay, anti-Christian.”


Support from 9 of the 12 trustees was needed to move forward a full slate of honorary degrees, including Mr. Kushner’s, according to state law. Seven trustees indicated support for the full slate, and five opposed. After that, Mr. Kushner’s name was removed from the slate of degrees, and it passed overwhelmingly. The trustees then voted, 11 to 1, to table the Kushner degree. The board chairman is Benno C. Schmidt Jr., a former president of Yale.

Jay Hershenson, CUNY’s senior vice chancellor for university relations and secretary of the trustees, said that since 1961, no other honorary degree nomination had been tabled after reaching the board.

Regarding the Kushner degree, Mr. Hershenson said, “The CUNY board of trustees acted independently and exercised its authority.” Responding to Mr. Kushner’s charge of slander, Mr. Hershenson repeated his comment.
I'd love to meet up with Mr. Wiesenfeld the next time he's in Israel or I'm in New York. Among other things, he deserves to be reading better blogs. Heh.

By the way, you can find a podcast of the CUNY trustees meeting here and here. The relevant portion starts about ten minutes from the end.

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At 11:24 AM, Blogger Eliana said...

It's interesting that when he defends himself from accusations that he attacks Israel, he attacks Israel to explain why he isn't really attacking Israel.

The bottom line is that he thinks Israel deserves to be attacked but he also thinks that he doesn't deserve to be criticized for smearing Israel with lies (which is what he's really doing).

At 1:44 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Jewish anti-Semites don't deserve acknowledgment, honor or recognition. They deserve to be treated as the black sheep of the Jewish people.

If you hate the Jews and Israel, there should be real consequences from the Jewish community associated with that stand.

There should be zero tolerance for anti-Semitism among the Jewish people.

At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sinat chinam in the name of an abstract self-righteous moralism cannot be rebottled as the new Judaism. Toxic swill is toxic swill. Slapping on some pseudo intellectual hechsher can't change spiritual goat piss into wine.

At 7:11 AM, Blogger JTG said...

"Originally, this was a story that only concerned the Jewish community"

Really? CUNY, New York theater, American theater, world theater, political censorship in public universities (tax-FUNDED universities) in NYC, NYS, USA - all are matters/issues "that only concerned the Jewish community"? Or do you mean that CUNY is somehow the property of said community?

To whom, then, should those of us NOT of what YOU consider "the Jewish community" apply for license to become concerned with these matters?

At 5:22 PM, Blogger betty berenson said...

Yasher coach to Jeffrey Wiesenfeld.


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