CUNY Said to be Reconsidering Kushner Degree

The New York Times is reporting that the CUNY Board of Trustees is plannign an emergency meeting Monday to reconsider the decision to drop Tony Kushner from their list of honorary degree recipients for this year.

I think we can all pat ourselves on the back for this one, but really, the decision was so outrageous, there was hardly any support for the revolting behavior of Jeffrey Wiesenfeld.

I have no doubt that the CUNY trustees were simply cowed by Wiesenfeld, and thought they were taking a path of least resistance. That’s usually how it is with such bodies. University trustees are notoriously leery of controversy, because any controversy tends to be of concern to the parents of prospective students and to donors.

But in this case, they simply underestimated how widespread the opposition would be. Hell, even Ed Koch, another degree recipient and certainly not one who sees Arabs and Muslims, much less Kushner’s views, in a positive light, objected in very strong terms. He even called for CUNY to kick Wiesenfeld off the Board of Trustees, and I can only hoep that plea also doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

Good news here, but until some sense of reason can be brought to debate on the Israel-Palestine conflict and, most particularly, to the US role in it, it’s only a drop in the ocean.

CUNY Gives Award To Bigot, Not To Jewish Opponent of Occupation


[NOTE: My thanks to Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace and editor of the blog Muzzlewatch for alerting me to this story]

Here are some words from a man who is getting an honorary degree from the City University of New York:

“…there are hundreds of millions[of Muslims] who are terrorists. They want to kill every Christian, every Jew, every Hindu who won’t convert.”

Tony Kushner

Congressman King is now seeking to protect America and the Muslim American community.  How?  By holding hearings on whether or not the American Muslim community is becoming radicalized and giving aid and comfort to America’s enemies. “

Do we side with the repressive governments that are friendly to the U.S. – Mubarak of Egypt and Abdullah of Jordan and others as well – or do we simply support those mouthing the chants of democracy and take our chances, knowing that many in those mobs would, if given the chance, slit the throats of every Christian and Jew who won’t willingly convert to Islam.”

The man has made many similar comments, demonstrating his deep and abiding bigotry against Muslims.

These are the words of Ed Koch. In fairness, Koch was mayor of New York and during his term… uh, well…um…hey, both the Mets and Yankees won World Series while he was in office. No other mayor of New York can say that. So there!

Why do I care if CUNY gives Koch an award? Because of who they dropped from their list of awardees.

They dropped playwright Tony Kushner, a fierce fighter for just causes, and a writer whose play, Angels in America, was a groundbreaking dramatization of the experience with AIDS in the 1980s. Kushner, who has plainly stated his support for Israel — “I want the state of Israel to continue to exist. I’ve always said that. I’ve never said anything else. My positions have been lied about and misrepresented in so many ways. People claim that I’m for a one-state solution, which is not true,”—is being barred because of his opposition to Israel’s occupation and to what Zionism has become today.

Here are the statements which the report in the NY Jewish Week cites as the basis of the demonization of Kushner: Continue reading

Prescription for Survival

Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian Israeli citizen who lives in Haifa has been arrested and a gag order has been placed over the case, demonstrating that the embarrassing Anat Kamm affair taught Israel nothing. I wrote about this and the implications for Israeli democracy for Zeek Magazine.