ZOA Supports CUNY’s Cancelling Honorary Degree To Playwright Tony Kushner, Who Opposes Israel’s Existence
May 6, 2011


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly supports the City University of New York (CUNY) for cancelling awarding an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner, who is opposed to Israel’s existence, has promoted vicious lies about Israel and called for boycotts and sanctions against the Jewish state, not merely expressed criticism of individual Israeli policies. Holocaust minimizer and Israel-hater Norman Finkelstein has also strongly praised Kushner and urged support for him for the very reasons we condemn him.



Past vicious anti-Israel statements by Tony Kushner:


·         “..the historical record shows, incontrovertibly, that the forced removal of Palestinians from their homes as part of the creation of the state of Israel was ethnic cleansing” (Letter to CUNY Chairman of the Board, Benno Schmidt, and the Trustees, May 4, 2011).

·         “I have a problem with the idea of a Jewish state. It would have been better if it never happened” (New York Sun, reporting Kushner comments made at a conference in New York, October 14, 2002).

·         “[Israel was] founded in a program that, if you really want to be blunt about it, was ethnic cleansing, and that today is behaving abominably towards the Palestinian people” (Yale Israel Review, Winter 2005).

·         “The founding of the state of Israel required the dispossession of an indigenous group, the Palestinians” (ed. Tony Kushner & Alisa Solomon, Wrestling With Zion, Grove Press, 2003, p. 2).

·         “The existence of the state of Israel, because of the terrible way that the Palestinian people have been treated, is now in great peril and the world is in peril as a consequence of it” (In These Times interview, March 4, 2002).

·         “The biggest supporters of Israel are the most repulsive members of the Jewish community and Israel itself has got this disgraceful record … Israel is a creation of the U.S., bought and paid for…There are lots of beautiful little orange groves and olive groves which the Palestinians had before the Jews were there, and some very attractive European-looking cities, too…” (Quoted in ed. Robert Vorlicky, Conversation, University of Michigan Press, 1998, pp. 83-4).

·         “I think the founding of the State of Israel was for the Jewish people a historical, moral, political calamity” (Accompanying essay for the release Klezmatics CD, Possessed).



ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We strongly support CUNY’s decision to cancel the award of an honorary degree upon Tony Kushner. Kushner is not merely a critic of Israel – he opposes its very existence and drips vitriol about it and its supporters. As his ethnic cleansing canard shows, he is also lies about the history surrounding the Arab attack on Israel which produced the Arab refugee problem.


“Mr. Kushner’s hostility to Israel is also perverse, since it is the only country in the Middle East in which he would be free to live openly as a homosexual.


“If Mr. Kushner had expressed opposition to the allegedly calamitous existence of literally any other democratic state and blamed it for all the world’s problems, he would never have been offered an honorary doctorate in the first place. In fact, numerous Arabs homosexuals have fled to Israel to escape the horrific abuse and life-threatening dangers they face in Arab states.


“CUNY’s decision repudiates a sinister double standard in public debate whereby vitriolic and extremist views, which would immediately prevent an institution bestowing an honor on someone uttering them about any other democratic country, are permitted in the case of Israel.”



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