Tony Kushner must be used to this by now.
Five years ago Brandeis University almost revoked their offer of an honorary degree to him. Now the board of the City University of New York (CUNY) has vetoed member college John Jay's similar plans to honor the playwright. Why?
The move took place at a meeting of CUNY's board of trustees Monday night after one of its members, Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, raised objections to plans to honor Kushner by John Jay College, one of the system's schools.....Wiesenfeld, a board member of several Jewish organizations and an activist in conservative circles, spoke out against plans to honor Kushner, who, like others receiving honorary degrees, may have spoken at the graduation ceremony. Wiesenfeld cited what he believed were some of Kushner's anti-Israel statements, all of which he said he found on the website of Norman Finkelstein, another figure known for his vehemently anti-Israel views. When people identify themselves with "these types of viewpoints," Wiesenfeld told his fellow trustees, "it's up to all of us to look at fairness and consider these things," especially when Israel sits in such a hostile neighborhood.Yes, "fairness." Right.
Who knew. Tony Kushner used to only be controversial when Angels in America would get banned here and there by Christian homophobes. Now Israel-supporters call him a Jew-hater. (Or, worse, an implied self-hating Jew.)
By the way, Kushner is hardly Norman Finkelstein. When even Kushner perfectly civil and rational questioning of Likud party policy is ruled out of bounds for discourse on a college campus--on a New York City college campus!--then free speech really is threatened.
Almost makes me ashamed to be CUNY student. Yet, there's still time for other board members to come to their senses and for John Jay College to stand up to the bullying by one man intimidating the public university which he claims to "serve."
For more on Wiesenfeld, scroll down to his CUNY profile here.
By the way, he was also in the news lately supporting Glenn Beck against charges of anti-Semitism. So Tony Kushner: out of bounds. Glenn Beck: fine. Glad we got that straight.
And here's even more disturbing background on who this man is and how he got on the board, from the CUNY student paper:
With Jeffery Wiesenfeld on the CUNY Board of Trustees, CUNY seems to be providing sanctuary for yet another opponent of multicultural education who seems unafraid to make inflammatory statements against certain minority groups to achieve his radical ends. In his first confirmation hearing for CUNY Board, State Senator Daniel Hevesi questioned Wiesenfeld sharply about these reports, including allegations from Community Advocate Isaac Abraham that he had called blacks “savages.” As Hevesi remarked, “I don’t know what to believe, but if someone calls blacks ‘savages’ they have no business being on the CUNY Board of Trustees.”
Even though Hevesi went on to say, “I know this nominee does not have the character to sit on the CUNY Board,” Jeffrey Wiesenfeld was confirmed by the full State Senate in June, 1999, and then re-appointed by Pataki in a last minute “emergency” meeting of the state senate, just before the end of Pataki’s term on December 13th, 2006. For more on this see “Pataki Appoints Two Trustees in Last Minute Senate Meeting” in the February, 2007 edition of the GC Advocate.Other highlights include "baseless charges that a new dual language Arabic English public school, the Kahlil Gibran International Academy, would inevitably become a haven for terrorists and was already a radical 'Madrassa' religious school."
So much for "fairness."