Playwright Tony Kushner Supports Boycotting And Divesting From Israel – Yet Brandeis U. Is Honoring Him
May 5, 2006

Kushner accuses Israel of
“ethnic cleansing”

New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), who includes Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis among its former presidents, criticized Brandeis University for planning to give Israel-hater playwright Tony Kushner an honorary doctorate at its commencement on Sunday, May 21, 2006 in the Gosman Sports Center there.

Kushner sits on the Board of Advisors of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which advocates divestment and boycott campaigns against Israel. His name appears on JVP letterhead, including on a letter salut[ing]” the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) for its move toward divesting from companies that do business with Israel. The letter posted on the JVP Web site not only applauds selective divestment focused on particular companies as proposed by the Presbyterians but says “we absolutely reject the accusation that general divestment or boycott campaigns are inherently anti-Semitic.”

JVP also posted a related statement saying:

  • Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the largest grassroots Jewish peace group of its kind in the United States, applauds the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) for its recent vote to explore divesting from companies who profit from the harming of “innocent people.”
  • JVP’s Web site contains additional examples of its anti-Israel activity as well as press releases denouncing Israel in distorted and unbalanced language. JVP opposes Israel’s construction of a security barrier in the West Bank, opposes military aid to Israel, opposes a unified Jerusalem, recommends the notorious Norman Finkelstein’s books and much more.
  • In a press release published on the occasion of Yasir Arafat’s death, JVP condemned Israel for not fulfilling his burial wishes, mentioning only briefly that the Palestinian leader was associated with violence. Although Arafat is the father of modern terrorism, with a grisly record that includes the killing of innocent men, women and children in Israel and beyond, his seminal role in this global scourge was omitted.
  • It should be noted that often news stories referring to JVP’s involvement in anti-Israel activity makes special mention of Tony Kushner as a member of the Board of Advisors

Kushner has also made numerous egregious statements viciously condemning Israel and decrying its very existence. He called Israel’s founding a mistake,” saying “it would have been better if Israel never happened” He also condemned Israel for “ethnic cleansing” and behaving abominably and denounced, ‘the shame of American Jews for failing to denounce Israel.” He called American Jews who support Israel “repulsive,” and Israel a “disgrace.”

Kushner also “deplored the brutal and illegal tactics of the IDF” and “the deliberate destruction of Palestinian culture and a systematic attempt to destroy the identity of the Palestinian people.” He is also on the board of an organization that opposes the security fence, a unified Jerusalem, or military aid to Israel, recommends Norman Finkelstein’s notorious anti-Israel, anti-Jewish books.

Tony Kushner’s recent screenplay of the movie Munich was widely condemned by numerous critics as being grossly inaccurate in ways that were hostile to Israel and inappropriately sympathetic to Palestinian terrorists. The critics include the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens: Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz; Columbia Professor and author Samuel Friedman (Jerusalem Post): the New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier: movie critic and social analyst Michael Medved: former U.S. Holocaust Museum Director Dr. Walter Reich (Washington Post): the New York Times’ Edward Rothstein: Commentary’s Gabe Schoenfeld; Charles Krauthaumer: Variety Magazine and MTV’s Kurt Yoder The anti-media bias organization CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), for example, stated that in Munich, “Kushner repeatedly blamed Israel for supposed ‘ethnic cleaning’ and ‘dispossession’ of Palestinian’s casting the alleged action of denying Palestinians a homeland as the root fo the Arab-Israeli conflict, while disregarding the reality of the Arab world’s rejection of a non-Arab, non-Muslim Jewish homeland in its midst and Israel’s repeated peace overtures.” Only this week on the Charlie Rose Show, Ephrain Halevy, former Director of Mossad, the Israeli secret service, said that Tony Kushner’s screenplay of the movie Munich “had no relation to the truth or the facts.”

It is especially painful to think of the anguish this award to the anti-Zionist Kushner would mean to the ardent pro-Israel Zionist Justice Louis Brandeis. He would be horrified having his name associated with such an Israel-hater. We believe that a man who President Franklin Delano Roosevelt regarded as a model of morality, affectionately nicknaming Brandeis “Isaiah” would consider this award the height of immorality in sullying the good Zionist name of Brandeis.

ZOA National President Morton Klein, Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt and Chair of the Executive Committee Dr. Alan Mazurek has written to Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz and Brandeis Board members saying,

“Would Justice Louis Brandeis be anything but revolted by your honoring Tony Kushner who sits on the Board of the ‘Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP),’ which advocates divestment and boycott campaigns against Israel and condemns Israel for not fulfilling the brutal wishes of the arch-terrorist and killer of Jews Yasser Arafat.

“We are certain that Justice Louis Brandeis would be turning over in his grave if he know this honor was being given to Tony Kushner in the Zionist Justice’s name.

“Tony Kushner is in the same league as MIT Professor Noam Chomsky when it comes to hatred of Israel and Israel-bashing.

“ZOA was surprised by some at Brandeis saying that ‘this award is being given not because of Kushner’s political views, but because of his artistic accomplishments.” Would they support giving a Brandeis honor to David Duke, if Duke was a great playwright? Would they support giving Noam Chomsky a Brandeis honor for his academic work in linguistics, ignoring Chomsky’s virulent attacks on Israel? Would they support giving Wagner, the great German composer who hated Jews, a Brandeis doctorate?

“Given Tony Kushner’s documented record of hateful statements toward Israel and Zionism, we respectfully urge you to reconsider giving Kushner this prestigious honor. Brandeis enjoys the respect of the Jewish and non-Jewish community. We believe following through on this award can only harm its reputation and gives solace, comfort and support to other bashers of the Jewish State of Israel and to those who hate its very existence.

“Please, Mr. President Reinharz and members of Brandeis’s National Board, search your souls, and do what’s right and what’s moral and what Justice Louis Brandeis would have called on you to do. Rescind this honor to the hater Tony Kushner and stop any further harm to Brandeis’s reputation.”

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