Posted on: May 5, 2011 Posted by: Mitchell Plitnick Comments: 6

Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, the champion of anti-Arab bigotry who blocked an honorary degree from the City University of New York (CUNY) has reached a new low. In an op-ed about his contemptible action, he actually has the audacity to compare Kushner to David Duke (as well as to Sonny Carson and Lynne Stewart, rather bizarre trio).

This is because, according to Wiesenfeld, when you criticize Israel, you are an anti-Semite, by definition.

Anti-Arab bigot Jeffrey Wiesenfeld

Wiesenfeld considers anyone a racist who states simple historical fact: that driving Palestinians from their homes was part and parcel of Israel’s creation. This is a fact not open to debate; it is clearly recorded in no less a source than the Hagana archives. Tochnit Dalet (Plan D) clearly called for emptying and destroying Palestinian towns.

The historical debate is over the intent of this plan, not over its existence or execution. Even if you subscribe to the more sympathetic view of that intent, the event – that Palestinians were driven from their homes and not allowed to return – is not in dispute. Except, of course, in the mind of bigots like Wiesenfeld who purport that Israeli motives and actions are always pure and Arab ones always nefarious.

Wiesenfeld has an ugly history of bigotry. It is nothing short of appalling that he, a noted bigot, tries to paint Kushner, a courageous fighter for LGBT rights who was still willing to brave the fire, in his spare time, of defending the rights of Palestinians, and criticizing Israeli policy in an attempt to not only secure justice for the Palestinians but also a better future for Jews in and outside of Israel.


A call has been put out for personal letters to be written to the trustees.

One easy step is to visit the Facebook page set up for this issue and click “like.” You can also write to the trustees and voice your objections. This has actually proven to be effective in the past, so this isn’t just an exercise. The e-mail addresses of the trustees are:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

It’s also worth noting that The Atlantic’s Jeff Goldberg, not someone inclined to defend critics of Israel, has severely criticized this move by CUNY.

6 People reacted on this

  1. Mr Kushner states that he bases his conclusion that Israel ‘ethnically cleansed’ the Palestinians in 1948, on Benny Morris’s book. In being kind to Mr Kushner – this is utterly riduculous. Less charitably, he is being fundamentally dishonest.

    Prof Morris’s book unambigously arrives at exactly the opposite conclusion namely, that the historical facts prove that Israel did NOT engage in any deliberate or planned ethnic cleansing.

    1. Tony Kushner is not an expert on the history of Israel, as some of us are. Nonetheless, his statement is accurate. He does not discuss intent, but rather the actual event, which Morris categorically, in both versions of his book on the creation of the Palestinian refugee issue, does describe in line with Kushner’s description.

      The issue among scholars is the intent, not whether or not it happened. Morris comes to a conclusion, one that is only flimsily supported by the evidence, as conclusions regarding intent often are in matters of history. The facts, however are plain: there was a mixture of popular actions, such as those in Jaffa and Haifa, rogue operations designed to terrorize the Arab populace into flight, such as in Deir Yassin, and planned expulsions such as those involved in Tochnit Dalet and as described by S. Yizhar in Khirbet Khizeh. This is history, and no one other than charlatans like Joan Peters disputes it, no matter how supportive they are of the Yishuv’s actions during the war. Indeed, Morris details a far greater number of intentional deportations and emptying of villages than I can possibly list here.

      In my view, these gave rise, when combined with the fragmentation of Palestinian society in the wake of the 1936 Arab revolt, to a greater exodus of Arabs from what would become Israel than the Yishuv’s leadership expected or planned on, though once it happened, there is no doubt that Ben-Gurion, Yosef Weitz and other key leaders were delighted. There was a significant minority among the Labor Zionists who were concerned to varying degrees as well. Morris goes a bit further than that, as well as lamenting that Ben-Gurion didn’t “finish the job” of ridding Israel of all its Arabs. But he would also agree that my characterization of those events would fit with his research as published.

      But Kushner is correct: the events, combined with Israel’s refusal to allow any refugees back in (again, one can understand the reasoning, but it doesn’t change the fact that this was the case) certainly amounted to a massive reshaping of the demographic map behind the Green Line, with some 80% of the Arab population having been forced, whether directly or by their own quite understandable fear, from their homes and barred from returning. That’s all he claimed, he didn’t mention intent. And he’s quite correct, as well as being quite honest and equally correct that this is precisely what is recorded in both versions of Morris’ book on the refugees. Morris wouldn’t call it ethnic cleansing, of course. neither would I. But the event, which has nothing to do with intent, would fit the definition. And, given the extensive discussion of “transfer” among the Yishuv leadership for at least two decades before the war, intent remains an area ripe for speculation. In any case, The numerous events of emptying villages, sending clear non-combatants across the Transjordanian, Egyptian, and northern borders certainly demonstrates that there was at least some intent to reduce the Arab population. I don’t think the extent of it was planned, but that’s as far as Morris’ own evidence (and my view is drawn from many more sources than that, including a good number to the right of Morris) can possibly be used.

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